Felonies and misdemeanors are very different charges. Although to make matters confusing, some crimes can have either type of charge. Circumstances may determine the type of charge someone gets for a crime. Defense attorneys must know the difference between a misdemeanor and felony as should their clients. This distinction is crucial because it could determine the type of punishment possible and other fallout from the charge.
What Is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and Felony Charge?
A misdemeanor refers to a lesser crime that typically carries a lighter maximum sentence in jail. However, a felony charge can carry a much longer sentence, typically in prison. Either type of punishment may involve probation. Some types of felony convictions will also count against the individual toward the three strikes law.
What Is an Infraction?
In California, a third type of charge exists – an infraction. This type of charge is not technically a crime but may fall under the category of an offense to the public. Those charged with an infraction cannot go to prison. Instead, most people will pay a fine. Additionally, those charged with an infraction do not have jury trials or an attorney appointed by the court. Examples of infractions include traffic violations, such as running a red light or parking in a no-parking zone.
Why the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and Felony Matters
The difference between a misdemeanor and felony can determine the outcome of a trial. For example, someone convicted of a misdemeanor will likely have a shorter sentence than someone convicted of a felony.
Whether a crime falls under the category of a felony or misdemeanor may depend on how the prosecutor wants to charge it. For instance, the history of the defendant and the specifics of the case may change how it goes to trial.
A qualified lawyer can guide the defendant and advise them on what the type of charge means for their case.
Contact the Law Office of Steven K. Bloom for a Consultation
Get a free consultation on the specifics of your case. Contact the Law Office of Steven K. Bloom to get in touch with an experienced defense attorney who knows the differences between types of crimes and how to best use the information to help his clients. Don’t stand alone in your case. Get help from a professional.