Difference between Misdemeanor and Felony
The United States legal system punishes criminals based on the type of crime committed. Crimes are categorized based on the subject and severity, known as grading. Whether a crime is charged as an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony depends on the circumstances of every case. Each type of criminal offense falls into one of these categories, whether it’s a DUI or drug paraphernalia, or any other kind.
Infractions are the most minor offenses. These violations often only result in fines, such as a speeding ticket, and don’t carry with them the same long-term consequences that a misdemeanor and especially a felony charge carry. However, a misdemeanor or a felony could lead to detention in either jail or prison if convicted. If you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge for a drug crime, violent crime, gun charges, or white-collar crime, then you will need to seek the services of a criminal defense attorney.
What is a misdemeanor?A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction, but it is still a minor, non-violent crime. Misdemeanors are broken up into different classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C, with Class C being the least serious. With a misdemeanor charge, you do not lose the right to own a gun, hold public office, or vote. Examples of misdemeanors include:
? Driving under the influence (DUI)
? Domestic violence
? Driving with a suspended license
? Giving alcohol to a minor
? Resisting arrest
? Drug paraphernalia
? Disorderly conduct
? Assault with injury
A misdemeanor carries punishments that are determined by each state. For example, in Arizona, misdemeanors carry potential sentences of up to six months in city or county jail and fines not to exceed $2,500. A criminal defense attorney in Tucson may be able to have your charges reduced to a Class 3 misdemeanor, which carries with it a sentence of only 30 days in jail and a $500 fine or even have your misdemeanor charges dismissed.
What is a felony?These are the most serious types of crime, and they are punished more severely. Felony crimes include rape, robbery, kidnapping, arson, and murder. If your charges are upgraded to a felony, then you are looking at spending at least a year at a federal prison rather than a city or county jail. The fines for a felony charge are also much higher than a misdemeanor and could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Notably, you lose your civil liberties when convicted of a felony and may have difficulty finding a job. If you are convicted of a sex crime, that will impact where you live for the rest of your life. Just like misdemeanors are classified, there are five different classes of felonies under federal law:
? Class A, which are the most serious and can result in life imprisonment or the death penalty
? Class B
? Class C
? Class D
? Class E, which are the least serious and can lead to a sentence of 1 to 5 years in prison
When you face a criminal conviction, your future is on the line, but a criminal defense lawyer can help you keep your freedoms. Therefore, it is highly advised to consult with a criminal defense attorney. Most offer a risk-free consultation, but there is significant risk in representing yourself.
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