A lot of people often interchange felonies with misdemeanors and vice-versa. Although they both suggest infractions of the law, the severity of the case and the subsequent penalties differ depending on the formal charge. If the police have charged you with either of the two, it would be much easier to understand how you should respond to the situation if you know the implications of each charge.
Basic Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor
The main difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the degree and severity of the crime. A felony charge is more serious, often classified into degrees. A first-degree felony (Class A felony) usually involves murder, kidnapping, arson, fraud, and rape.
On the other side of the spectrum are fourth-degree felonies (Class D felonies). They usually involve burglary, resisting arrest, involuntary manslaughter, and larceny. Depending on the degree of your felony, you can be sentenced from 6 months to 11 years or more. You can also be fined $5000 or more depending on your felony degree.
A misdemeanor, on the other hand, is a lesser criminal act relative to felonies. This type of crime also has fines and possible jail time, but the range and length of these penalties are not as severe as felonies. Some examples of misdemeanors are driving under the influence (DUI), speeding, driving without insurance, and driving without a license.
Effect of Felonies and Misdemeanors on Civil Liberties
Usually, when the state charges people with felonies, some of their civil liberties get waived. A murderer or rapist, for example, would completely lose their second amendment right (right to bear arms). They also would not be able to vote, hold public office, or serve on a jury. Misdemeanor charges have no effect on the limitation of one’s civil liberties. They also have higher likelihood of being granted expungement by the state.
Consult with an Experienced Law Firm When Charged with a Felony or Misdemeanor
Different states have varying classifications when it comes to felonies and misdemeanors. An example would be a charge on possession of small amounts of marijuana. Some states charge people guilty of marijuana possession with a felony. Other states have downgraded the charge to strictly misdemeanors only.
To know the specifics when it comes to dealing with formal charges per state, it would be wise to approach criminal defense lawyers with years of experience in the craft.
These charges have the possibility of staying with you for life. If you want to be protected from such charges, it would be best to seek the help of trusted law firms around your area. Contact one today.
Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney at Bandre, Hunt and Snider in Jefferson City, MO. Bandre, Hunt and Snider are the best attorneys Jefferson City MO have to offer.