Understanding the Criminal Law Process-Felonies and Misdemeanors

When accused of a crime, a person may wonder if they are dealing with a felony or a misdemeanor charge as they don’t understand the Criminal law process. The difference between the two can be very confusing, as the classification is typically nothing more than an indication of the potential punishment the person is facing. As a result, the question a person needs to ask is how much time he or she could get behind bars. This will offer more information about the charges being faced and which classification they fall under. Following are some guidelines to help distinguish between felonies and misdemeanors.

Felonies

If the person is possibly looking at more than one year of jail time, the crime is likely a felony. Furthermore, felonies typically result in the individual being sent to a prison as opposed to a jail. The actual time to be served doesn’t play a role in the classification. It’s the punishment allowed that is taken into account.

Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors typically come with less severe penalties. For example, a person who commits a misdemeanor will likely serve no more than one year in jail. Furthermore, crimes that cannot be punished through prison time will fall into this category. Again, many other factors come into play, so this should not be the only guideline used when determining if a person is facing a felony charge or a misdemeanor one.

The Confusion

Where many people become confused is in the fact that the same crime may be considered either a felony or a misdemeanor. For instance, a state could consider a crime a misdemeanor. However, when the same crime is tried under federal law, it might be bumped up to a felony. For this reason, any person accused of a crime needs to seek legal representation immediately. An attorney can help clarify the charges, the time the individual might spend in jail or prison, and whether it is being tried as a state or federal crime.

Regardless of whether a person is facing a felony or misdemeanor charge, he or she could have fines imposed along with other penalties. A good example of an additional penalty is the sex offender registration requirement imposed on people found guilty of this crime. The fines and penalties may be in place of or in addition to incarceration. Speak to an attorney today for more information.

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