Misdemeanor & Felony FAQ

Tallahassee Criminal Defense Lawyer Answers Your Questions

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
A misdemeanor is a less serious classification of a crime while a felony is the more serious classification. Misdemeanors are crimes in which the possible penalty of imprisonment is only one year or less in a county jail (unless the offender receives an extended term). A person convicted of a misdemeanor may be sentenced to jail time, probation, or even just a fine.

Infractions such as noncriminal traffic violations are considered misdemeanors. On the other hand, felonies are crimes in which a person can be sentenced to confinement in a state prison. Prison sentences range from just one year to several decades, or even a lifetime. The most serious felony offenses can result in sentences of the death penalty.

What are some examples of misdemeanors and felonies?
A few examples of crimes that are usually misdemeanors include disorderly conduct, basic DUI offenses, petty theft, and prostitution. Some examples of offenses that are usually felonies include grand theft, robbery, kidnapping, and murder. There are many crimes, such as domestic violence, that can easily be classified as either type of offense, depending on the severity.

Do misdemeanors and felonies impact your criminal record in the same way?
While both misdemeanors and felonies are harmful to your record, felonies are much more damaging. When a person is labeled convicted felon, he or she will face many difficulties when finding a job, renting an apartment or a home, or even qualifying for financial aid for college. Even if a person has a compelling story about why the conviction was unfair or the individual has greatly turned his or her life around, employers, landlords, and other official decision-makers are usually hesitant to take a chance on someone with a felony conviction.

Is it possible to get a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor charge?
Yes, this is a possibility in many cases. This usually occurs when the defense is able to prove that certain elements of the alleged crime are not present. For example, a defendant in a drug case may be able to get a charge for possession with intent to sell reduced to a simple possession charge if the defense can show that the offender only possessed the drug for his or her own personal use. A felony may also be reduced to a misdemeanor if a plea deal is arranged.

What should I do if I am arrested for a misdemeanor or felony crime?
The first thing you should do after being arrested for any crime, misdemeanor or a felony, is to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A trained legal professional that fully understands the criminal justice system will be able to identify and implement the best defense for challenging your charges in court. Without experienced legal representation, you could end up being at a much higher risk of being convicted or receiving the maximum penalty. At Jansen and Davis, P.A., we offer 50 years of experience in the area of criminal defense.

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