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Felony VS Misdemeanor: What’s the Difference?

Have you been accused of a felony or misdemeanor? Are you facing a sentence and are not sure about the difference between them? Both can incur different sentences and fines, and it can help to know which is better or worse. 

Below, we have laid out a guide, so you know the difference when it comes down to a felony vs misdemeanor. Read on to hear the must-known facts on sentencing and the laws surrounding these two key legal terms.  

Crime Categories 

Crimes are often divided into several different categories. They differentiate the seriousness of crimes committed or allegedly committed. The biggest three categories are infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies, and each has several subcategories.  

Categories are determined by the amount of jail time each can incur. While courts will treat each case differently, you can generally assume that the amount of jail time associated will determine if it is a felony or misdemeanor. Minor infringements that incur fines and no jail time are commonly known as infractions.  

What is an Infraction? 

An infraction is the violation of a rule of law and is the least serious type of crime. They do not normally appear on criminal records and do not incur jail time. Most punishments will be a fine, and at the most serious can have five days in jail served as a penalty.  

Many minor crimes come under the banner of infractions. Littering, disturbing the peace, traffic tickets, and petty crimes will fall under this banner. In general, a member of law enforcement will see an infraction and hand out a fine, which will have to be paid on a specified date.  

If they are left unpaid, they can turn into more serious offenses. However, even if unpaid they very seldom end in jail sentences. You will get nothing more than trouble from the fine boards, and the fine may increase in value.   

What is a Misdemeanor? 

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is much more serious than an infraction. They incur a jail term of less than one year. Any prison sentences are usually spent in a country jail as opposed to a high-security prison.  

Misdemeanors divide into classes. Class A is the most serious with sentencing between 6 months to a year. For 30 days to 6 months, is a class B misdemeanor.  

Class C is for misdemeanors with a sentence under 30 days. Prosecutors generally have a great degree of freedom in deciding the charge, what for, and how sentencing is administered. 

What is a Felony? 

Felonies have the highest sentencing and are the most serious type of crime. Its definition is a crime with a punishment of more than one year. It will result in a serious criminal record.  

However, the definition can be fluid depending upon the state. Some states do not classify their crimes at all. As such, the boundaries between a felony and a misdemeanor can have no bearing at all.  

Most states do however use the term. Sometimes, it is even used as a term to reference the method of imprisonment, such as a defined amount of time in state prison. In summary, it is denoted by the place and/or length of the sentence incurred.  

In the same manner that misdemeanors break down into categories, so do felonies. However, there are more classifications due to the severity of crimes usually known as a felony.  

Class E felonies run from one to five years. Class D is from five to ten. Ten to twenty-five is a class C. 

The two most serious are B and A. Class B is a 25 or more-year sentence, with class A being life or the death penalty.  

As you can see by the length of sentencing, felonies are extremely serious crimes. They may involve murders, kidnapping, arson, and any crimes that society views as serious. They can have many forms of sentencing so that the crime is judged accordingly, and its severity punished correctly.  

Finding the right Representation 

In the battle of the felony vs misdemeanor, you should always hope for the misdemeanor. It has shorter sentencing and is a less serious crime. If accused of a felony and sentenced, it is possible that it may be downgraded.  

If you have been accused of either, then you need the best representation available. CAM Law is a criminal defense, personal injury, and family law attorney serving Carroll, Coweta, and Troup Georgia. Contact us today to discuss your case so we can start building your defense immediately.   

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