Felonies and Misdemeanors: How Are They Different?

Many people have heard the terms “felony” and “misdemeanor.” But what exactly do these terms mean? The difference between the two is an important part of the justice system.

Felonies and Misdemeanors: What’s the Difference?

In general, these terms are used to categorize types of crimes. Felonies are usually serious offenses while misdemeanors can be relatively minor.

For example, armed robbery is a felony while petty theft is usually a misdemeanor.

In some cases, crimes can be upgraded or downgraded based on the circumstances of the crime. This means that a misdemeanor crime can become a felony offense and vice-versa. A misdemeanor might be upgraded to a felony if the crime is a repeat offense. A felony might be downgraded as part of a plea deal.

What Is a Felony?

Felonies have a few major characteristics:

  • Jail or prison terms over one year
  • Steep fines
  • Strict probation terms

Felonies are the most serious criminal offense. They can get you locked up for a long time and they almost always stay on your record for life. Even worse, a felony conviction may mean that certain employers won’t hire you. The government denies most benefits to felons and, in some cases, felons can’t vote or own firearms.

To put it simply, a felony conviction can seriously mess up your life. If you’re facing felony charges, don’t fight them alone. You will need expert legal representation to beat the charges.

What Is a Misdemeanor?

Misdemeanors are some of the most common criminal offenses. They can cover everything from traffic crimes to drug possession. Punishment for misdemeanor offenses usually includes:

  • One year or less in jail
  • Fines
  • Probation and/or community service

It’s true that misdemeanor penalties are less severe than penalties for felony crimes. However, that doesn’t mean that misdemeanor charges should be taken lightly. Being charged with any crime is very serious. A conviction for a minor offense could have drastic consequences. After being charged with any crime, it’s important to talk to a lawyer.

Dealing with Felony and Misdemeanor Charges

No matter what kind of crime a person is charged with, it’s always possible to fight for a reduced sentence.

Felony assault charges? A lawyer can fight to get them reduced to misdemeanor charges.

Misdemeanor drug charges? A lawyer can try to negotiate with the judge so that the defendant gets treatment instead of jail time.

If you’re accused of a crime, the best step you can take is to call a lawyer. Setting up a free consultation won’t cost you anything and you can learn what your options are. Your future may be at stake and that’s worth fighting for.

Hire an Attorney Right Away

It doesn’t matter if you have been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor; you need to get legal consultation right away to avoid getting a criminal conviction. Hiring an experienced attorney is one of the best things you can do to win your case.

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About the Author

Law Office of James Alston. serves people who need legal assistance in their Criminal Defense Cases in Texas.

Houston Criminal Lawyer James Alston represents clients in the Houston area, including Pasadena, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Channelview, Conroe, Galveston, Angleton, Richmond, Rosenberg, Beaumont, Galveston County, Ft. Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Harris County and Jefferson County in Texas.