When it comes to committing a crime, that crime is usually considered either a misdemeanor or a felony. There is also a third category called a petty offense that is used in some places, though that is typically just a fine and possibly probation, but it rarely has jail time. With felonies and misdemeanors, the classification depends on a number of different factors, from the type of crime committed to who was injured in that crime. Knowing whether it was a felony or misdemeanor can give you more insight into the type of penalty to expect. Here are some things to know about felonies and misdemeanors.
What is a felony?
The more serious of these two types of crimes is the felony. There are different degrees of felonies, which define how serious of a crime it was. The most serious degree is a first degree felony, while a third degree felony is the least serious. With a felony charge, the penalty is usually jail time, though sometimes a very large fine is all you will get. This also depends on the degree. A first degree felony, which is often a murder, will guarantee you jail time if you are found guilty. Other examples of a felony include kidnapping, fraud, espionage, fraud, rape, and illegal drug abuse or selling.
Before your case goes to trial, you must first be indicted by a grand jury. You can avoid a trial by pleading guilty at your arraignment, which grants you a more speedy process. Once you are convicted of a felony, even after being released from prison, you will have certain rights taken away from you. The felony is always on your record and you may lose your right to purchase firearms, be employed by a government institution, and will no longer be able to serve on a jury.
What is a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a less serious charge, but still considered a crime and you can also face some hefty fines. Some misdemeanors also have jail time, but it is usually for less time, and many people charged with a misdemeanor only get a fine and possibly community service. Misdemeanors are similar to petty crimes in that they rarely go to trial, and even if they do, it is a fast trial. Examples of misdemeanors include minor theft or shoplifting, vandalism, disorderly conduct, assault and battery, and harassment.
Whether you have committed a misdemeanor or a felony, it is a good idea to have an attorney. Even if your case does not go to trial, the attorney (from Law Office of Michael Marinaro & Associates or another firm) can help gather evidence of your innocence or at least get you the least severe penalty possible.