What Is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and Felony?
There is a common misconception that most crimes are similar in terms of type and punishment simply because it is convenient to group the majority of illegal activity together in a single basket. Those who comply with the law do not develop an in-depth understanding of the nuances of different crimes and punishment for good reason.
However, everyone should have a basic understanding of the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. Even if you are completely innocent and law abiding, there is a chance that you will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and need the assistance of A Way Out Bail Bonds to get out of jail.
When it comes to criminal offenses, the severity and implications of the charges can range significantly. In the legal world, crimes are categorized mainly as misdemeanors or felonies. But what do these terms mean, and how do they affect the defendant? Read on to find out.
The Basics of Misdemeanors
Misdemeanors are more common than felonies simply because most crimes are not severe to the point that they can be classified as felonies. Misdemeanors are comparably less severe crimes. Misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, yet they are much more serious than basic infractions. The vast majority of states have decided it is appropriate for misdemeanors to have a jail term of a year or less.
It is also worth noting that some states consider misdemeanors to be a level of crime that falls in between the extremes of the uber-serious felony and the relatively less serious infraction. Infractions are still considered crimes, yet they aren’t as severe as other crimes as they are mere violations of a law, ordinance, or rule. The punishment for an infraction does not include jail time. In most cases, infractions result in a fine. As an example, receiving a ticket for a traffic violation is considered an infraction.
The Basics of Felonies
If you are found guilty of a felony, your life will become much more difficult. Felons lack the rights of those without a serious criminal record. Felonies carry extensive jail/prison sentences, freedom restrictions/complete loss of freedom, hefty fines, and social exclusion. Felons find it difficult to obtain employment, find a place to live, exercise their political voice, and receive respect from community members. The bottom line is it is in your interest to avoid the addition of a felony to your record at all costs.
It is interesting to note that a misdemeanor has the potential to quickly escalate to the level of a felony. As an example, if a driver is over the legal limit for alcohol and is stopped for a suspected DUI, the stage is set for a misdemeanor criminal charge. However, the misdemeanor charge has the potential to elevate to a felony if there are kids in the vehicle or if the driver’s blood alcohol level is well beyond the legal limit.
Misdemeanors vs. Felonies
The primary difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is severity of the crime, meaning the egregiousness of the illegal action. Felonies are considered more serious than misdemeanors. As a result, the punishments for felony crimes are more severe than those for misdemeanor crimes. As an example, an individual found guilty of a misdemeanor crime will likely be sentenced to community service as ordered by the court, probation, and/or fines.
Alternatively, those who are found guilty of a felony will face comparably stiff penalties. Felonies are serious crimes, often categorized into categories based on severity. The most serious of felonies, sometimes referred to as capital felonies, have the potential to be punishable by death or life in prison. Felonies of the first degree typically carry prison sentences between half a decade and 99 years to life.
A first-degree felony also has the potential to carry a fine of several thousand dollars. Second-degree felonies are punishable by a prison sentence typically between a couple years and a couple decades, along with a fine of several thousand dollars. Third-degree felonies have the potential to carry a prison sentence of two years to a decade along with a fine.
Punishments for Misdemeanors & Felonies
The punishments for these two categories differ considerably:
- Misdemeanors: Often result in a fine and can lead to jail time up to a year, usually served in a local county jail. Sometimes, there might be probation or community service attached.
- Felonies: Consequences for felonies are much more severe, typically involving prison sentences that can range from a year to life imprisonment, depending on the crime’s severity. In some cases, certain felonies can even warrant the death penalty.
The Effects of Criminal Convictions
Having a criminal conviction on your record, whether misdemeanor or felony, can have long-lasting impacts. Such a record can affect employment opportunities, housing applications, and even educational chances. Felonies, given their severity, carry an even more profound impact. Felons may lose their right to vote, possess firearms, or even access certain licensed professions.
In both cases, having experienced legal counsel and support can make a difference in the outcome of your case and its long-term implications.
It’s essential to understand the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, especially if you or a loved one faces charges. Remember, the right legal representation can guide you through the process, help reduce potential punishments, and advise on next steps post-conviction.
For anyone in Dallas County or Tarrant County dealing with the complexities of the legal system after an arrest, know that there’s a trusted ally you can turn to: A Way Out Bail Bonds.
Contact A Way Out Bail Bonds
If you or a loved one are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, don’t panic. A Way Out Bail Bonds is here for you, your family, and your friends during times of need. With over 35 years of experience, our licensed and qualified bail bond agents are here to guide you through every step. Contact A Way Out Bail Bonds 24/7 at (214) 760-9978 in Dallas County and (817) 261-2828 in Tarrant County. Your peace of mind is just a call away.”