Understanding the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony

Nobody hopes to end up in legal trouble, but if you ever do, it is essential to understand the differences between a misdemeanor crime and a felony crime. In addition to different punishments and consequences, each category carries a different amount of weight in court. This brief introduction can help you become familiar with misdemeanors and felonies, and a criminal defense attorney like Maj Vasigh of Tampa, Florida can provide the legal backing you need if you’re ever charged with either.

Defining a Misdemeanor

A misdemeanor is a lower-class crime defined as any criminal offense punishable by less than one year in jail. Though they aren’t as severe, misdemeanors still carry significant consequences and have the potential to derail your life. The most common misdemeanors include petit theft, minor marijuana possession, prostitution, disorderly conduct, and battery.

Misdemeanors are divided between the first and second degree. A misdemeanor of the first degree is the most serious type in Florida. It is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. A second degree misdemeanor, meanwhile, is less serious. It is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Understanding a Felony

Felony crimes are no laughing matter. They carry more weight than misdemeanor crimes and, depending on the exact crime, can lead to decades of jail time and accelerated fines. Felonies range from third degree to capital felonies.

Third degree felonies carry the lightest consequences, with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. In Florida, third degree felony charges might include carrying a handgun without a permit or theft of a vehicle. Conviction of a second degree felony, meanwhile, carries more intense consequences of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Aggravated battery with a weapon, serious child abuse, and sexual battery are all second degree felonies. A first degree felony like homicide, human trafficking, or forgery of prescription drugs is even more serious. Such crimes can be punished with up to 30 years in prison along with a hefty fine.

If you find yourself facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, Attorney Maj Vasigh is the lawyer you want sitting next to you. He specializes in criminal defense and will pursue your charges aggressively. Call (813) 800-1111 to schedule your free initial consultation now.

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