Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor (With Table)

Felony vs Misdemeanor

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

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

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

Misdemeanor includes crimes such as shoplifting, etc. which is non-violent in nature. Therefore the punishment here often involves a fine imposed by the court. In some rare cases, a jail sentence can also be given to the guilty, in case of a misdemeanor, but that is not more than a year or so.

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


 

Comparison Table Between Felony and Misdemeanor (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonFelonyMisdemeanor
Nature of crimeFelonies are very severe crime as it imposes harm to others.However, misdemeanor comes under the category of less severe crimes.
PunishmentAs felony is a pretty serious crime, the guilty has to go under the jail-time of more than a year.In misdemeanor, usually, a fine is imposed on the person who is guilty. He or she might also have to serve jail time, which would be less than a year.
Affects of committing the crimeIn the case of a felony, the second amendment rights along with the right to vote and others get dismissed by the court.However, in misdemeanor, there is 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.The attorney is not provided if an accused can’t afford to have it.
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 the felonies in their area. Usually, a jail-time of more than a year is ordered by the court in such cases. This jail time has to be spent in the federal prison 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, etc. 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 felony simply, we can say that crime done against a person or property clarifies to be a felony.

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What is Misdemeanor?

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

The punishments in the case of a misdemeanor are usually a fine that is imposed on the convicted person. However, jail time is also ordered by a court in some cases, which is generally of less than a year. The jail time, in the case of a misdemeanor, has to be spent in county jail rather than a state prison.

There is another classification of crimes, you should know about, which is wobblers. Wobblers are crimes that might be considered as a felony or a misdemeanor, 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 in a misdemeanor is typical of 1000$. However, this amount does change from state to state, depending on the laws there.

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

Felony and Misdemeanor
Felony and Misdemeanor

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, misdemeanors are not as serious as facing a felony.
  2. Taking into account the seriousness of the crime in felony, one might have to face jail time of more than one year.
    On the other hand, in misdemeanor, 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 case of a felony, the convicted person loses their rights, including the right to vote, second amendment rights, etc.
    However, in misdemeanor, 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 misdemeanor.
  5. Some examples of felonies are murder, robbery, aggravated assault, etc.
    General assault, larceny, drunken driving are examples of the misdemeanor.

 

Conclusion

The crimes are classified into two main categories, based on their nature, namely felony and misdemeanor.

Felonies are crimes that are very severe in nature. Crimes such as homicide, robbery, rape, etc. come under a felony.

On the other hand, misdemeanors are crimes that are not very serious in nature as in comparison to felonies. Such misconducts include larceny, drunken driving, trespassing, etc.

In a felony, the punishment is usually the jail time of more than a year, whereas, in misdemeanor, a fine is imposed on the convicted as punishment. Sometimes, jail time of no more than a year is also ordered by the judge in a misdemeanor.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Felony and Misdemeanor. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

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Word Cloud for Felony and Misdemeanor

 

References

  1. https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/35147/1/Barkai_126UPaLRev88.pdf
  2. https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/abstractdb/AbstractDBDetails.aspx?id=114035