Many people understand that a felony is far more serious than a misdemeanor but not many people understand further details beyond that. However, there are significant differences between felonies and misdemeanors under the law. If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to understand the differences.
While the information contained here will offer some important insight, it is good to be aware that it is not designed to replace one on one consultation with a lawyer about your particular situation.
The law treats misdemeanors and felonies differently. The most significant difference is power of imprisonment and the severity of the penalty.
It is good to note that the distinction is not due to the conviction of a particular crime being punished by a particular jail term. The difference comes in whether the person convicted can be punished in a specific prison or for a particular length of time.Click here to read some more serious crimes and your criminal rights
The definition of a felony varies between states. States in which capital punishment is still legal, define felonies as all crimes punishable by death. Other states define felonies as those crimes that attract a prison term exceeding one year. Still other states define felonies as those crimes punishable by imprisonment in a state prison.
Misdemeanors are defined as those crimes punishable by a sentence not exceeding one year in a local county jail or prison. Misdemeanors are also punishable by fines in some cases. Some states such as California have crimes known as wobblers that can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors depending on the situation.
While misdemeanors and felonies have many apparent differences, the procedural prosecution still remains the same across the board. Both criminal charges require the prosecution to bring charges forth against the person, which are subject to legal proceeding thereafter. The prosecution is then required to follow additional federal protocols when prosecuting felonies.
A felony conviction typically results in a loss of rights for the individual. The person convicted of a felony loses the right to obtain some licenses or even to possess firearms. Some states will even prohibit convicted felons from voting. Convicted felons are bound by the law to disclose their history when they are applying for jobs, which makes it hard for them to find jobs. People convicted of misdemeanors don’t experience any of that.