Standing Beside You – Fighting For Justice
Photo of Royce Russell

Differences between misdemeanors and felonies

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you are convicted of a crime in New York, you could face jail time or other penalties. However, the severity of your sentence depends on several factors such as your criminal record, aggravating factors and whether your charge is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally speaking, misdemeanors are considered to be less serious than felonies.

Characteristics of a misdemeanor

A misdemeanor charge is generally classified as one that carries a sentence of less than a year in jail. However, depending on the factors in your case, you could spend many years in jail or prison after being convicted of a relatively minor offense. For instance, a criminal record may trigger mandatory minimum sentencing rules if convicted of DUI or possession of marijuana.

Characteristics of a felony

A felony is a serious offense such as murder, arson or rape. If convicted of a felony, you may be sentenced to prison. You may also be subject to fines of $10,000 or more as part of your sentence, which may be true even if you lack a criminal record. A felony conviction may also impede your right to own a gun or vote in an election.

Plea bargains may be available

A plea deal in your case could result in a felony charge being reduced to a misdemeanor. It’s also possible that a plea deal could significantly reduce your sentence even if you are charged and convicted of a felony. Deals may be offered if you successfully have evidence suppressed as part of your criminal defense strategy or otherwise convince a prosecutor that one is warranted in your case.

A conviction on any charge may make it harder to find housing, go to school or find employment. You may also find it harder to retain custody of your kids or live a normal life. However, casting doubt upon the evidence introduced in your case may result in a plea deal or an acquittal.