What’s the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

What’s the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor

Joey B. had never been in trouble with the law before. So, being arrested was confusing. He didn’t know the procedures that the police should be using. Joey wasn’t even sure about his rights. But one of the biggest problems was that Joey did not know the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. His criminal defense lawyer could help him understand some key differences and how to craft a defense.

A Felony and Misdemeanor Both Involve Criminal Charges

First, we need to understand that criminal charges generally fall into two categories: felony or misdemeanor. An individual who is arrested and charged with either type has violated a law. The difference becomes what law did they break and how badly.

Someone might be charged with a misdemeanor for:

  • Traffic infractions
  • Vandalism
  • Shoplifting
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Reckless driving
  • First or second drunk driving offenses

Examples of felony charges include:

Grand theft auto, arson, disorderly conduct, fraud, violent crimes, weapons charges, some theft, and larceny charges.

The Michigan legislature passed a law in October of 2020 that added certain voter fraud actions to the list of felonies.

The Severity of the Charge Matters

Some state laws break the two categories – felony and misdemeanor – into subcategories, levels, or classes. For example, Michigan splits misdemeanors into three categories  as punishable by up to:

  1. 93 days in jail
  2. one year in jail
  3. two years in jail (high court misdemeanors)

However, Michigan recognizes eight classes of felonies, all with different jail sentences:

A (up to life in prison)

B (20 years)

C (15 years)

D (10 years)

E (5 years)

F (4 years)

G (up to two years)

H (time served, probation, treatment, or electronic monitoring)

As you might imagine, people charged with serious felonies are more likely to get higher jail sentences. Additionally, felonies may carry fines and court costs.

The Punishment Usually Fits the Crime

A key difference between a felony and a misdemeanor involves legal consequences. Misdemeanors typically carry less jail time than felonies. As noted above, there’s a variation of punishment even within the classes of felonies.

Have You Been Charged with a Felony or Misdemeanor?

Knowing the difference is essential to how you and your criminal defense attorney proceed with a defense.

At the Dailey Law Firm, P.C., our team of skilled lawyers and professionals provide the high-quality legal services you need. Call us at 844-342-5353 to set up a free consultation or use the Contact Form on our website. It won’t cost you a penny to chat with us.

We represent clients throughout the entire United States. You can reach us online or visit one of our offices in Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL; or Valparaiso, IN.

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