Most states in the U.S. – including Texas – divide crimes into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. The category that a crime falls under affects the subsequent penalties and the impact of a conviction. If you have been charged with a crime, you'll want to know whether you're facing misdemeanor or felony charges to understand exactly how a conviction could affect you.
The Difference between a Misdemeanor & a Felony
Technically speaking, the key difference between a misdemeanor and a felony crime is that a misdemeanor is punishable by no more than one year in jail, whereas felonies can be punished by a year or more in jail.
Generally, misdemeanors tend to be non-violent crimes. They are considered less severe or serious in nature than felonies.
Misdemeanors are further categorized by the seriousness of the offense.
There are three levels of misdemeanors:
- Class A misdemeanors (the most serious)
- Class B misdemeanors
- Class C misdemeanors (the least serious, punishable by no more than a $500 fine)
Potential punishments for a misdemeanor conviction include fines (including court fees and restitution), mandatory community service, court-ordered education classes or treatment sessions, probation, and less than one year in jail.
Examples of misdemeanor crimes include:
- Minor drug possession
- Unlawful carry of a weapon
- Lying to a police officer
In contrast to misdemeanors, felony crimes are more serious and carry harsher penalties. Felonies are generally crimes that cause financial harm or physical injury to a victim or victims.
Felonies are further divided into categories including:
- State jail felony (the least serious)
- Third-degree felony
- Second-degree felony
- First-degree felony
- Capital felony (the most serious, eligible for life imprisonment or the death sentence)
Punishments for a felony conviction can include over one year in jail or federal prison, fines, and more.
Examples of felonies include:
- Credit card fraud
- Third-offense DWI
- Child pornography possession or manufacture
- Aggravated robbery
You Deserve an Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney
Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, the fact remains that your future is on the line. With so much at stake, you can't afford to rely on an overworked public defender or to face your charges alone. Instead, retain the aggressive representation we offer at Labovitz Law Firm. Our criminal defense team is ready to fight for you.
Give us a call at (817) 374-4056 to request an initial consultation.