10 Differences Between a misdemeanor and felony

What is a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a type of criminal offense that is considered less serious than a felony. It refers to a crime that is punishable by a maximum of one year in a county or local jail, rather than a state or federal prison.

Examples of a misdemeanor

Some common examples of misdemeanor offenses include petty theft, disorderly conduct, trespassing, public intoxication, simple assault, and drug possession in small amounts.

What is a felony?

A felony is a more serious criminal offense compared to a misdemeanor. It typically involves crimes that are punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or even by death in some cases, depending on the jurisdiction and severity of the crime.

Examples of felony

Examples of felony offenses include murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, arson, burglary, fraud, drug trafficking, and certain types of white-collar crimes like embezzlement and money laundering.

Differences between a misdemeanor and felony

Difference Area Misdemeanor Felony
Punishment Punishable by up to one year in a county or local jail Punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death
Severity Less severe crimes More severe crimes
Impact Usually has a lesser impact on a person’s future opportunities Can have significant consequences on a person’s future, such as restricting employment and housing options
Investigation Usually requires less extensive investigation Often requires more extensive investigation due to the seriousness and complexity of the crimes
Jurisdiction Trials typically take place in local or district courts Trials usually take place in higher courts, such as state or federal courts
Legal Terminology Referred to as “misdemeanor” in legal terminology Referred to as “felony” in legal terminology
Intent Often involves a lower level of intent or negligence Typically involves a higher level of intent, such as premeditation or malice aforethought
Collateral Consequences May have limited long-term collateral consequences Can result in severe long-term collateral consequences, including loss of voting rights or firearm ownership
Public Perception Generally viewed as less serious offenses by the public Generally viewed as more serious offenses by the public
Statute of Limitations Often have shorter statute of limitations Often have longer statute of limitations due to the seriousness and complexity of the crimes


In summary, misdemeanors and felonies differ in terms of severity, punishment, impact on future opportunities, investigation requirements, legal terminology, intent, collateral consequences, jurisdiction, public perception, and statute of limitations. Understanding the differences between these two categories of crimes is essential for both individuals involved in the criminal justice system and the general public.

People Also Ask:

1. Can a misdemeanor be expunged from your record?
In certain jurisdictions, it is possible to have a misdemeanor conviction expunged, which means it will be removed from your criminal record. However, expungement eligibility and procedures vary by jurisdiction.

2. Can a felony be reduced to a misdemeanor?
In some cases, a felony charge can be reduced to a misdemeanor through a plea bargain or upon successful completion of a diversion or rehabilitation program. The specific conditions and possibilities for reducing a felony charge vary by jurisdiction and the nature of the offense.

3. Can a misdemeanor prevent you from getting a job?
While misdemeanors are generally considered less severe, they can still have an impact on employment opportunities. Some employers may conduct background checks and may consider misdemeanor convictions in their hiring decisions, especially if the offense is related to the job duties or workplace conduct.

4. Are misdemeanors heard by a jury?
In some cases, misdemeanors may be heard by a jury, especially if the accused individual chooses to exercise their right to a jury trial. However, misdemeanor cases are often resolved through bench trials, where a judge makes the decision, particularly for less serious offenses.

5. Can a felony be reduced to a misdemeanor after conviction?
In certain cases, a felony conviction may be reduced to a misdemeanor after the conviction through a legal process called “felony reduction” or “wobbler reduction.” Specific eligibility criteria and procedures vary by jurisdiction, and it is advisable to seek legal counsel for guidance.

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