Felonies Versus Misdemeanors

Justice Scales

A misdemeanor or a felony could mean much longer jail time

Though both are classifications of crime, some may not know the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. While a third classification, a petty offense, is the least serious offense, normally just a ticket and fine with no jail time, a felony or misdemeanor are a more serious offense.

Misdemeanors are the least serious of the two. A misdemeanor normally means a fine higher than a petty offense fine, and possible jail time for less than a year. Jail time for a misdemeanor would be served in a local or county jail, rather than a state or federal correctional institute like a felony charge. Additionally, misdemeanor trials are normally much shorter than felony trials, and like a petty offense trial, defendants are not allowed a court-appointed lawyer if they can’t afford one.

Felonies, as the most serious offenses, often involve longer trials, and are classified by degrees, with a first-degree felony being the most serious. Those that are convicted of felonies must be provided with a lawyer if they cannot afford one. Felony trials involve juries if necessary, and those convicted may serve prison sentences for over a year in a state or federal correctional facility.

Outside of prison, if you are convicted of a felony you may face other restrictions. Some states may prevent you from purchasing firearms, or you may be blocked from employment from certain professions.

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