Misdemeanors and felonies are both charged under criminal law.

However, both consist of crimes of very different severity and thus, lead to punishments of varying nature.

If you have been convicted of a crime, it’s vital to know the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony to understand how you will proceed with the court hearings.

Here’s a brief overview of the two crime categories:

What is a Misdemeanor?

There is no fixed definition of a misdemeanor. Usually, it refers to non-violent crimes and has low periods of jail time.

Some offenses that qualify as misdemeanors include shoplifting, drug possession, petty theft, indecent exposure, and simple assault.

They are less severe than a felony, and you can get jail time of a maximum of one year in a local prison. Besides getting a prison charge, you may get fines as a punishment.

Moreover, the judge has a high flexibility level in deciding the fines and the criminal punishment.

Usually, three following classes of misdemeanors set the imprisonment time for convicts.

  • Class A: one year or less, but more than six months
  • Class B: six months or less, but more than thirty days
  • Class C: thirty days or less, but more than five days

What is a Felony?

In contrast to a misdemeanor, felonies include physically violent crimes that are collectively viewed by society as severe.

Crimes that can severely harm a person psychologically and non-violent crimes like robberies, heists, hijacking, and drug abuse are also considered felonies.

Sometimes, a misdemeanor can transform into a felony on second-time offenses.

Depending on the crime, a felon may be sentenced to several severe punishments, including:

  • losing the right to vote
  • exemption to qualify for some professions like a jury
  • maximum-security state prison sentence

These are the classes that differentiate between different felony sentences:

  • Class A: life imprisonment or the death penalty
  • Class B: 25 years or more
  • Class C: less than twenty-five years but more than ten
  • Class D: Less than ten but more than five years
  • Class E: Less than five but more than one year

Moreover, a person with felony charges, even after serving their sentence, often faces difficulty in getting a job, renting an apartment, or starting a business. On the other hand, people with misdemeanors don’t find it as difficult, although it still does come into notice and can have implications.


It’s essential to understand the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony before you begin your defense. After all, even a slight weakness in your defense can lead to a very severe sentence.

That’s why it’s always important to have the best legal team with you.

Reach out to LCPL Legal and consult the best criminal lawyers in the country!