Is a Felony or a Misdemeanor Worse?

misdemeanor ticket

Is a misdemeanor better than a felony?

In the United States, the majority of criminal systems for states have different categories for crimes committed, based on the seriousness. There are three major categories, infractions, felony, and misdemeanors, each having different classes or levels. For this piece, we’re going to discuss the differences between felonies vs misdemeanors, and answer questions like which is more serious, felony and misdemeanor charges, and more.

Any arrest is severe, some more than others. Still, between felony and misdemeanors, a felony is the most severe crime and is punished with fines, lengthy incarceration sentencing, and possible loss of freedoms. A misdemeanor will usually be sentenced to smaller fines, shorter incarceration, and temporary loss of freedom and privileges.

How is a felony different from a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a crime that is sorted into classes. The following is maximum imprisonment and punishment for the offense.

  • Class A misdemeanor – six to twelve months
  • Class B misdemeanor – thirty days to six months
  • Class C misdemeanor – five days to thirty days

The jail time is usually in the local county jail, and there is some flexibility with the prosecutors as to the level of punishment to sentenced.

A felony is different throughout the United States and is a crime defined by the federal government to be sentenced to no less than twelve months. Some states are lighter with their definition, while other states do not define what classifies as a felony.

Any sentence of twelve months or more of prison time is regarded as a felony. There are different classifications of felonies with the following sentencing guidelines of prison time:

  • Class A felony – life in prison or the death penalty;
  • Class B felony – minimum twenty-five years;
  • Class C felony – ten to twenty-five years;
  • Class D felony – five to ten years;
  • Class E felony – one to five years.

A defendant’s rights are protected with careful and strict observation of the criminal procedure due to the severity of felony sentencing, so they are protected. Felony crimes include arson, burglary, kidnapping, murder, or rape. There is a range in how felonies so that the punishment matches the crime.

What is the lowest misdemeanor?

In the states that use classifications for misdemeanors, the lowest level is Class C. This is for charges where the defendant has little to no criminal history. This misdemeanor level is eligible for the defendant’s attorney to petition they be given deferred adjudication orprobation, which is typically no less than six months and no more than two years.

How many misdemeanors is a felony?

From state to state, this can vary, but there isn’t a set number of misdemeanors that make a felony. It would take a string of misdemeanors of certain classifications that would change a misdemeanor charge into a felony. These charges are designed for the habitual criminal or the serial offender, and would work in one of the following two ways:

  • Three convictions or more, would make the defendant considered a habitual criminal. They would be sentenced to life in prison with possible parole.
  • Three to five convictions for theft or moral turpitude would make the defendant considered as a habitual criminal and sentenced to a minimum of twenty years, up to life in prison.

Keep in mind these numbers are basics. For example, each state would have its prerequisites.

Can a felony be dropped to a misdemeanor?

In the state of Louisiana, a defendant’s attorney may see to have felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor. If the judge grants the reduced charges, the defendant can legally state they have never had a felony conviction. With charges reduced to a misdemeanor, and the defendant completes any probation the judge set, their attorney can file a request to have the misdemeanor expunged from their records.

arrested man hearing if charge is misdemeanor or felony

What happens if a felon gets a misdemeanor?

As stated, a felony is a more serious crime and is punished more severely. An ex-felony that is charged with a misdemeanor could end up back in prison. Factors that are considered by a judge would be the original felony crime, the current misdemeanor charge, and the defendant’s criminal history.

There are different types of felonies, with seven common types. What are the seven felonies? The following are basic outlines of a felony, each state having its measurement of degree.

  • ASSAULT: Depending on the situation, this can be tried as a felony or misdemeanor. If there were a dangerous weapon used during the assault, it would be tried as a Class B felony. A simple assault, like punching with the intent to cause harm, would be tried as a Class A misdemeanor.
  • RAPE/SEXUAL ASSAULT: The level of the crime and consequences vary on different things such as the type of misconduct, the victim’s age, or if the defendant was an authoritative figure. There are severe consequences for rape, sexual abuse, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration, and other acts.
  • KIDNAPPING: A first-degree charge is considered a Class A felony, a second-degree charge is a Class B felony. Kidnapping is defined as when a person(s) take another person or group of people against their will to a location undisclosed for ransom, or another crime is engaged. Custodial interference is considered kidnapping when a person is removed from their place of lawful custody, or they are being held, hostage.
  • THEFT: In some states, theft is a Class C felony when the property was stolen valued at $1,000 or more, or if the property was taken during a riot is a firearm, explosive, livestock, or a substance that is used for manufacturing synthetic drugs.
  • PROSTITUTION: In some states, this is considered a Class C felony, and the punishment can vary based on the defendant owns, controls, or manages a place of prostitution.
  • ARSON: This charge is a Class A or Class C felony when committed with the intention of burning a structure, forest, or land and results in bodily injury.
  • DRUG CRIMES: Each state has its level of what makes a drug crime. It could be a possession of a small number of drugs for the first-time offender. Or delivery of or manufacturing of controlled substances.

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