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What Is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

What Is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense, you are in serious trouble and you need to consult with an experienced attorney. Individuals who break state laws are charged with either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the type of crime committed and other factors, including your criminal history. Following are some of the main differences between felonies and misdemeanors:


  • Less serious offenses including certain drug crimes, DUI and shoplifting
  • Punishable by less than one year in the county jail


  • More serious crimes such as aggravated assault, trafficking drugs and fraud
  • Punishable by one year or more of incarceration in the state prison
  • Convicted felons lose the right to vote
  • A person convicted of any felony crime involving violence or any offense involving the unlawful possession, sale, use, administration, distribution, or trafficking of any drug is prohibited from knowingly acquiring, having, carrying, or using any firearm or dangerous ordnance

What is the difference between county jail and the state prison?

The county jail is designed to house individuals awaiting trial or serving a short sentence. Jails are usually run by sheriffs and local governments. Prisons are operated by state governments and are designed to hold individuals serving sentences of one year or more for more serious offenses.

Regardless of the charges you face, consulting with a criminal defense lawyer is the single most important decision you can make. With the help of a skilled attorney and depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to have the charges against you reduced or, possibly, dropped.


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