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Misdemeanor vs Felony: What’s the Difference?

Have you ever been arrested for a crime?

Many people who’ve been arrested, whether rightfully or not, aren’t aware of what that arrest means, or what it will mean for their futures. To figure this out, you need to learn the difference between misdemeanors and felony offenses. 

Different crimes have different punishments, and these sometimes vary by state or even situation. It’s hard to determine the outcome before you’re in the courtroom.

We’re here to help. Keep reading to learn all about misdemeanors and felony offenses, and what you can expect from both. 

What Is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a relatively minor crime in the eyes of the law. Misdemeanors are more serious than summary offenses, but they’re not considered serious enough to warrant harsh punishments, and many employers won’t be concerned with a misdemeanor on your record.

Misdemeanors often result in jail time, but that time can range from five days to one year, depending on the crime. These include minor physical (but not sexual) assault situations, shoplifting, or a first instance of driving under the influence. Often, multiple offenses will result in felonies. 

If you have a good DUI lawyer, you should have a decent chance at having little to no jail time after drunk driving, though you will still have to pay fines and have your license suspended, among other things. 

The court doesn’t consider the perpetrators of these crimes dangerous enough to lock away for longer periods. 

What Are Felony Offenses? 

Felony offenses are far more serious than misdemeanors, and they always result in jail time. Felons have a harder time finding work after they’re released, and some felons can’t even vote

Felonies result in a year or more of time in state prison. Imprisonment can be as short as a year or as long as several life sentences depending on the severity of the crime. 

Felonies vary, and what might be a felony in one instance could be a misdemeanor in another. Certain drug offenses, for example, will result in different charges depending on the situation. 

Other felony offenses include the sale of illicit drugs, murder, sexual assault, and burglary. 

As we mentioned before, while committing a crime once may result in a misdemeanor, committing it again could be a felony. It shows that you didn’t learn or attempt to correct your behavior, and that may make you dangerous to the general public. 

It becomes a lot harder to make a strong DUI defense when you are a repeat offender

Finding a good criminal defense lawyer could make your sentence shorter or bring your crime down to a misdemeanor, but you should expect serious consequences for felony crimes. 

Felonies and Misdemeanors: The Difference Is Crucial

Misdemeanors, while not ideal, are fairly inconsequential. The punishment is there to help you learn your lesson and reconsider your behavior, and while it’s not great to have a misdemeanor in your history, it won’t ruin your future.

Felony offenses, on the other hand, are a big deal. Even if you have a brief prison stay, these offenses are life-changing for both the criminal and the victim. 

Have you recently been arrested? We want to hear from you. Having a good criminal defense lawyer can be the difference between jail time and a slap on the wrist. 

Contact us so we can discuss your case.

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