If you have ever taken the time to look at someone’s criminal record or research criminal charges, you probably saw two words again and again: misdemeanor and felony. In fact, other than the rare and “harmless” infraction, every criminal violation in the country is considered either a misdemeanor or a felony. But what does that mean? And is it something you should be concerned with if you have been charged for a crime?
Misdemeanors Compared to Felonies
A misdemeanor charge is generally reserved for a crime that will not have widespread consequences or did not cause anyone serious bodily harm. There is usually not much planning or plotting when a misdemeanor crime is committed and, although the intent may sometimes be malicious, it is not so harmful to cause permanent damage.
Examples of common misdemeanors would include:
- Stealing a low-priced item.
- Possessing a few ounces of marijuana.
- Threats of violence without physical contact.
Despite the less-severe nature of misdemeanors, a conviction for one may still result in fines in the thousands and lock you away for weeks or months. If you can fight your misdemeanor charges, you should do so. Do not take them lightly just because they are not as intense as felonies.
On the other hand, a felony is a crime that either has causes serious consequences or damages to one or more people, broke a federal law, or occurred in more than one state. The mere act of premeditating a criminal act can escalate it from a misdemeanor to a felony, and criminal justice officials will typically assume that someone who is committing a felony violation is doing so with malicious intent.
More serious crimes will constitute a felony, such as:
- Stealing a high-priced item or firearm.
- Possessing pounds or marijuana or selling an illicit drug.
- Assault and battery causing serious injury.
Each felony conviction must also be accompanied by at least one full year in prison. Fines imposed upon felony offenders can be more than double what a similar misdemeanor charge would bring, with some of the highest-class felonies slamming the convicted with fines greater than $100,000.
The Wiseman Law Firm – We’re the Wise Choice
Have you been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Florida? Your future stability, finances, and freedoms are all on the line. The only way to have confidence in your chances of success is to know that you are hitting back with the powerhouse advocacy from an Orlando criminal defense attorney like Mr. Wiseman. See what his 15+ years of legal experience can do for you during an over-the-phone or in-person consultation at zero cost to you.