10 Differences Between Felonies and Misdemeanors
Crimes are typically divided into two categories, misdemeanors and felonies. Though what defines these titles can vary from state to state, it is important to recognize the differences between the two. Here are 10 categories where discrepancies between misdemeanors and felonies exists.
1.The Severity of the Crimes
Misdemeanors are thought to be less severe in nature than felonies. Criminal offenses comprising misdemeanors can include, but are not limited to:
- Minor thefts.
- Common traffic offenses.
- Minor drug possession.
- Assault not involving a weapon.
Felonies are considered the most serious crimes in the American penal system. These offenses can be violent and disturbing and include, but are not limited to:
- Grand theft.
- White collar crimes like identity theft.
2. Potential Amount of Incarceration Time
Those convicted of a misdemeanor often serve no longer than one year. Someone sentenced for a felony offense typically serves at least one year and, depending upon the severity of the crime, may receive life in jail or the death penalty.
3. The Type of Facility a Sentence Would Be Carried out In
Misdemeanor offenders sentenced to jail time usually serve their time inside a municipal or county jail. Someone convicted of a felony would typically carry out their sentence inside a state or federal penitentiary.
4. The Right to a Jury Trial
While certain trials for more serious misdemeanor offenses might necessitate the involvement of a jury, the defendant is not guaranteed a trial by jury. An individual on trial for felony charges is entitled to a jury trial.
5. The Loss of Civil Liberties
Someone who has served his or her time for a misdemeanor conviction does not lose any of their civil liberties. An individual who has completed a felony sentence, however, will or might lose the right to:
- Run for or be elected to political office.
- Serve on a jury.
- Purchase of bear firearms.
- Apply for, or be hired for certain jobs.
6. Latitude for Prosecutors
Prosecuting attorneys often have more leniency to determine how misdemeanors should be punished and/or whether to offer the accused arrangements like plea bargains. The punishment structure of felonies, due to their severe, violent and disturbing nature, are more rigid.
7. Length of Trials
Misdemeanor trials are often short. Trials for felony crimes are often longer because of the greater severity and complexity of the offenses.
8. Degrees of Crimes Committed
Though more serious misdemeanor offenses are sometimes categorized in classes and degrees, felonies are almost always divided into specific degrees of severity, with the first degree being considered the most egregious.
9. Time It Takes to Have the Crime Expunged from a Personal Record
Though there is no specific period of time established for which a crime can be removed from someone’s personal record, misdemeanor offenses can typically be expunged with much greater expediency than that of a felony. With certain felonies, particularly those involving violent or sexually-driven crimes, the offense may never be able to be removed from an individual’s permanent record.
10. Other Punishments Levied
In addition to jail time, some convicted of a misdemeanor might be required to pay a fine. These fines typically are not large. However, fines for those convicted of a felony may be tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, those convicted of white collar felony offenses might be ordered to pay restitution.
Consultation with a criminal offenses attorney DC relies on is highly recommended for anyone charged with a crime. Choose a firm with experienced criminal attorneys who can provide you with the legal assistance that you need.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from the Law Firm Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into different criminal charges.