Misdemeanors versus felonies: Distinguishing factors

Misdemeanors versus felonies: Distinguishing factors

If you’re charged with a crime, you may be concerned about the severity
of the charge. You will either be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
There are a few major differences between the two that you should understand,
so you know how to approach your case with the help of your attorney.

What is a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a crime that is able to be punished with up to a year
spent in jail. The time spent in jail may take place in a local county
jail instead of a high-security prison in some cases, which is helpful
to those who are not violent or who committed only minor crimes. This
also helps keep younger children or teens out of major prisons, as they
are more likely to go to a juvenile facility.

Misdemeanors are typically minor enough that prosecutors have some leeway
in the way they decide how to charge you and in how they request penalties
to be carried out. That means you have a better chance of negotiating
a plea bargain or lower sentence for the crime if you feel you’ll
be convicted.

What is a felony?

A felony is the most serious type of crime you can be charged with. They
are punishable by prison sentences of over a year. Punishments can be
severe in these cases, so the court has to be very strict. Defendants’
rights are of the utmost concern in these cases, and their defense attorneys
must be present. Felony punishments can range in severity, but it’s
important that they match the crime.