Felony vs Misdemeanor: Difference and Comparison

The crimes have been classified into two categories, namely felony and misdemeanour. The seriousness of a crime is what decides whether a crime will fall under the category of a felony or misdemeanour.

Key Takeaways

  1. Felonies and misdemeanors are two categories of criminal offenses.
  2. Felonies are serious crimes punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. Misdemeanors are less severe crimes punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to one year.
  3. Felonies include murder, robbery, and fraud, while misdemeanors include minor theft, disorderly conduct, and traffic violations.

Felony vs Misdemeanor

The difference between felony and misdemeanour is that felony includes crimes like murder, theft, etc. which are pretty severe in nature. However, misdemeanour involves less severe crimes that do not impose any life danger on others.

Felony vs Misdemeanor

As felonies are crimes, which are more severe than that misdemeanours, the jail sentence time here is pretty long.

Misdemeanour includes crimes such as shoplifting, etc. which is non-violent in nature. Therefore the punishment here often involves a fine imposed by the court.


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In some rare cases, a jail sentence can also be given to the guilty, in case of a misdemeanour, but that is not more than a year or so.

There are degrees in a felony to describe the seriousness of a crime. A first-degree felony is the most serious of all crimes. In misdemeanour, if the guilty has provided the jail time, then that time has to be served in the local jail of the state.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonFelonyMisdemeanour
Nature of crimeFelonies are very severe crime as it imposes harm on others.However, misdemeanour comes under the category of less severe crimes.
PunishmentAs a felony is a serious crime, the guilty must go to jail for over a year.In misdemeanours, a fine is imposed on the guilty person. He or she might also have to serve jail time for less than a year.
Affects of committing the crimeIn the case of a felony, the court dismisses the second amendment rights, the right to vote, and others.However, a misdemeanour has no effect on a person’s amendment or any other rights.
Right to have an attorneyA person who is accused of a crime is provided with an attorney by the court if he or she is not able to afford one on their own.An attorney is not provided if an accused can’t afford to have one.
ExamplesRobbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, murder, etc.Trespassing, shoplifting, general assault, etc


What is Felony?

The types of crimes that are considered to be much more severe than others are called felonies. They can either be violent or non-violent in nature.

Every state has different laws to deal with felonies in their area. Usually, the court orders a jail time of more than a year in such cases. This jail time must be spent in the federal rather than the local or county jail.

The one who is convicted of a felony is known as a felon. Some of the crimes that come under the category of felonies are murder, aggravated assault, rape, kidnapping, robbery, etc. However, crimes like tax evasion are also included in the felony.

This includes the most serious crimes, so the death penalty could also be imposed on the person who is guilty here. To understand a felony simply, we can say that a crime done against a person or property clarifies to be a felony.


What is Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanour includes crimes that are not as serious as a felony. Some of these misconducts include shoplifting, trespassing, violation of traffic rules, larceny, etc.

The punishments in the case of a misdemeanour are a fine that is imposed on the convicted person. However, a court also orders jail time in some cases, which is generally less than a year.

In the case of a misdemeanour, jail time must be spent in a county jail rather than a state prison.

There is another classification of crimes you should know about: wobblers. Wobblers are crimes that might be considered a felony or a misdemeanour, depending on the amount of harm you have done to a person or property.

Various states do not have this classification of wobblers in their state laws.

The punishment fine for a misdemeanour is 1000$. However, this amount changes from state to state, depending on the laws.

A misdemeanour might be a less severe crime, but if one does not consider hiring a lawyer, this could severely affect them. An attorney will help you understand your rights better while they represent you in the hearing.


Main Differences Between Felony and Misdemeanor

  1. Felonies are the type of crimes that are considered to be very severe as it imposes harm on others. However, misdemeanours are not as severe as facing a felony.
  2. Considering the seriousness of the crime, a felony, one might have to face jail time of more than one year.
    On the other hand, in a misdemeanour, the convicted gets charged with a punishment fine. However, in some cases, jail time of less than a year is also ordered as punishment.
  3. In a felony, the convicted person loses their rights, including the right to vote, second amendment rights, etc.
    However, in a misdemeanour, one doesn’t have to go through losing such rights.
  4. In the case of a felony, if a person is not in a situation to be able to hire an attorney, then the court provides them with one. However, no such thing happens in the case of a misdemeanour.
  5. Some examples of felonies are murder, robbery, aggravated assault, etc.
    General assault, larceny, and drunken driving are examples of misdemeanours.
Difference Between X and Y 28
  1. https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/35147/1/Barkai_126UPaLRev88.pdf
  2. https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/abstractdb/AbstractDBDetails.aspx?id=114035
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