What's the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?


Quick Answer

Felonies are more serious than misdemeanors and they often carry higher fines and longer jail terms, notes HG Legal Resources. Jail sentences for misdemeanors are typically served in local or country jails, while felony sentences are served at state or federal prisons.

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What's the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
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Full Answer

In most states, there are three types of crimes. The first, and least serious, are petty offenses. Petty offenses may not be tried by a jury trial and a defendant is notified of being charged with a petty offense by receiving a citation. There is usually no jail time associated with a petty offense.

Misdemeanors sometimes come with jail time and often carry substantial fines. Depending on the offense, a trial by jury is sometimes available to those charged with a more serious misdemeanor. States have varying degrees of misdemeanors and the laws regarding these crimes vary.

Felonies are the most serious types of crimes and like misdemeanors, felonies are classified by degrees. In order to be tried for a felony, some states require the accused be indicted by a jury. Most felonies come with substantial fines and jail time in excess of 1 year. For felony trials, if the accused cannot afford an attorney, the court must appoint one.

Each state is different when it comes to charging someone with a crime. For more information, it is recommended that the accused seek the advice of an attorney, states HG Legal Resources.

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