Know Your Rights

Penalty Differences with Misdemeanor and Felony Charges

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Crimes are often classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the level of severity. The crime one is charged with may fall into several different categories which may raise the seriousness, penalty and fine when the charge moves from a misdemeanor to a felony. The severity of a crime may also be viewed differently by the court system as to how much potential jail time one may face.

Reduce Penalty Differences with Legal Guidance

When it comes to criminal charges, Retaining the services of a qualified attorney can help ensure you have the best defense for either a misdemeanor or felony charge. Both types of crimes can result in jail time, fines, job loss, not to mention a criminal record which can follow you wherever you go. You want a lawyer that seeks the best outcome, the lowest charge, and the least amount of risk to your future.

Misdemeanor Charges Explained

Misdemeanors are generally defined as a crime which may be punishable by up to a year of jail time. There is some flexibility in the legal decision of what crime to charge you with, what type of punishment you may be faced with, and what kind of plea bargain you may be able to negotiate.  Examples of misdemeanors include:

  • Assault that results in bodily injury
  • DUI or DWI
  • Burglary
  • Resisting arrest
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Misdemeanor domestic violence
  • Making a false report
  • Obscenity
  • Unlawful possession of a weapon
  • Property theft (over $1,000)
  • Violating a restraining order

Felony Charges Explained

Felonies are typically defined by those crimes punishable by prison sentences of greater than one year. Felony crimes are viewed severely by society, the legal system and the courts. Punishments vary, typically matching the severity of the crime. Some examples of felony crimes include:


  • Murder / Homicide
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Arson
  • Aggravated assault and/or battery
  • Manslaughter
  • Animal cruelty
  • Burglary – Grand Theft
  • Tax evasion
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Distribution/Sale of illegal drugs
  • Multiple violations of DUI
  • Leaving the scene of an accident

When Misdemeanors Change into Felonies

Committing a crime may have multiple levels of severity which change the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. Examples of this transition from one level of severity to another include:

  • Assault – threatening to harm another may be a misdemeanor, however assault with bodily injury, or assault with a weapon is considered a felony
  • Indecent Exposure – exposing oneself in public may be considered a misdemeanor, but when the exposure of private parts is before a child then the crime rises to become a felony
  • Traffic Violations – speeding, driving without a license or insurance, or even DUI generally brings a misdemeanor charge; leaving the scene of an accident, vehicular homicide or multiple DUI’s are felony traffic violations
  • Theft – whether the crime is viewed as a misdemeanor or a felony is dependent on the value of the cash or property stolen. Multiple violations can result in a felony charge that brings harsher punishments.

Penalty Differences Criminal Attorney

Call the office of Joel Baskin, the attorney to call when facing a criminal charge. Before you make a statement, strike any deals, or admit your guilt, make the call to the attorney with the experience to protect and defend you.

Request a Free Consultation


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