What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony
There is a sharp difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. A misdemeanor is a less severe crime, and a felony is the most severe crime category that a person can commit. Being convicted of a felony will typically result in prolonged jail or prison sentencing, monetized fines, and being stripped permanently of freedoms.
Misdemeanors, on the other hand, do tend to come with jail time, but the duration will be shorter. Fines are also another element, but again, the amount will be smaller. As for freedoms, they will be taken away, but typically this is temporary. For instance, if someone was charged with a DUI, they may get their license taken removed, but will get it back eventually. Many times, a criminal lawyer can help you keep these freedoms even if you were charged with a misdemeanor.
Types of Crimes
In most states across the United States, the criminal systems divide crimes into a few different categories depending on the severity of the act performed. The main types are summaries, misdemeanors, and felonies. Each one has a sub-level or class based on the actual offense. Each level, or class, will help determine what the amount of jail time will be and other punishment that should be associated, such as fines.
If you have been convicted of a crime in one of these three categories, it is essential for you to know how the court system treats each case and understand the differences so you can be prepared. It is highly suggested you talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney for more details regarding your particular situation. As a general overview, the main difference between a misdemeanor and felony punishments is the potential jail time the offender could face.
What is a Summary?
A summary offence is the least serious crime you can commit. It is when someone violates a rule, ordinance, or law, such as running a red light or fishing without a permit. The majority of jurisdictions do not punish someone with jail time for these types of crimes, and they will also not appear on a criminal record. You can expect to pay a fine with a price ranging higher or lower based on the specific violation.
What is a Misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is more serious than a summary, but less severe than a felony. Most states and Federal Law state these as criminal offenses and jail time could be a punishment for usually less than a year. Not all states handle this the same, but in general, this category is broken out into three classes: Class A, B, and C. Class A could land someone in jail for six months to a year. Class B is thirty days to six months or less of jail time, and Class C is five days to thirty days. Usually, the time served is at a local county jail, and with an excellent criminal lawyer in Pennsylvania, the sentencing can be negotiated down.
What is a Felony?
A felony is the most severe crime category. Crimes that fall into this include murder, rape, kidnapping, arson, and burglary. It is not the same throughout the states, but the federal government defines a felony as a crime that consists of a punishment for more than a year. However, 43 states right now define felonies and use it to determine punishment, such as elongated incarceration or, in some states, the death penalty. If serving jail time, the offender will be a state of federal prison. For Federal Law felony classes, here is each one and their respected punishment.
- Class A – life imprisonment or the death penalty
- Class B – 25+ of jail time
- Class C – Less than 25 years, but more than 10 years
- Class D – less than 10 years, but more than 5 years
- Class E – less than 5 years, but more than 1 year
Speak with a Criminal Lawyer
Being charged with any of the categories mentioned above, especially misdemeanors and felonies, require a reliable and experienced Erie criminal lawyer. They can help make your case as favorable as possible, which can drastically reduce your punishment. Having a professional who knows how to research and negotiate and build solid arguments is something you will want to have for the best chance at getting reduced or perhaps even eliminated punishments if called for.