What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

Criminal offenses are broken into two different categories throughout most states here in the U.S. and those are misdemeanors and felonies. Both misdemeanors and felonies can lead to a trial where your case will be heard before a judge. Sometimes a jury trial can be attainable for certain misdemeanor offenses. When facing either a misdemeanor or a felony crime, it is vital that you obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.

Misdemeanor crimes carry substantial fines and sometimes jail time, whereas a petty offense just results in a ticket. An example of a petty offense would be a traffic infraction, which only results in a fine and would not lead to trial. The main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is that a misdemeanor is only punishable for up to one year in a local or county jail. The differentiation in penalties is what makes the most difference. The court will have to determine the length of time the offender should serve and in what type of prison they should serve it in- this is the dividing line between misdemeanors and felonies.

Felonies, on the other hand, are the more austere crimes which are broken up in varying degrees of severity- a first degree felony is considered to be the worst. These types of crimes always carry prison sentences of one year or longer, along with substantial fines. Felony offenders serve out there sentences in a state or federal prison, rather than a local or county jail. Jury trials are also available when it comes to prosecuting felony crimes. In many states through the U.S. the prosecutor in the case must attain an indictment from a grand jury prior to pressing felony charges.

There are many lasting consequences that you may face in the aftermath of a felony conviction. For example, convicted felons are not permitted by law to possess or purchase a firearm, to serve on a jury, or to go into a legal, teaching or military profession. Some states even revoke your right to vote if you are convicted of a felony. Misdemeanors and felonies are also prosecuted differently. Felony charges require that you follow the formal prosecution protocol, whereas a misdemeanor does not require an indictment or preliminary hearing.

However, there are certain crimes that can be considered “wobblers,” which means that the prosecutor could charge you with a misdemeanor of a felony. When dealing with wobblers, the charge that you face will all depend on the specifics of your crimes. If you would like to learn more about the different levels of crime in the state of Minnesota, speak with a Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer from Grostyan & Associates, PLC today. My firm offers aggressive legal representation, so call today at (612) 341-6575.