Felony Vs. Misdemeanor: What’s the Difference and What Does It Mean for Your Case?
Felony or misdemeanor — two seemingly simple words that hold the power to reshape lives drastically. If you’re facing criminal charges, the distinction between these two can have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the courtroom.
In this blog, our criminal defense attorneys delve into the critical differences between felonies and misdemeanors, including the penalties, consequences, and how these cases are processed. Read on or contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
What’s the Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Criminal Offenses?
So, what’s the deal with criminal offenses? When it comes to categorizing crimes, they’re generally divided into two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies.
Felonies: Serious and High-Stakes
Felony crimes are more serious offenses that often involve violence or significant harm to others. Some examples of felony crimes include murder, rape, robbery, arson, and drug trafficking. Felonies carry harsher penalties than misdemeanors and can result in lengthy prison sentences or even capital punishment, depending on the jurisdiction.
The severity of these crimes reflects society’s recognition of their potential for causing grave harm to individuals or society as a whole.
Misdemeanors: Less Serious, but Not Without Consequences
On the other hand, misdemeanor offenses are less serious crimes that typically carry lighter penalties compared to felonies. These types of offenses include things like petty theft, public intoxication, vandalism, and simple assault. While misdemeanors can still result in fines and possible jail time, the consequences usually aren’t as severe as those associated with felony crimes.
Penalties for Misdemeanor and Felony Charges in Minneapolis
Each class of felony and misdemeanor charge is further divided into different degrees or levels based on the severity of the offense. The classification of the crime determines the potential penalties that may be imposed upon conviction.
Misdemeanor Convictions in Minneapolis
Misdemeanors in Minneapolis are less serious offenses compared to felonies and are generally classified into three levels:
- Gross Misdemeanor: punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000
- Ex: Theft of property worth between $500 and $1,000
- Misdemeanor: punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
- Ex: First-time DWI
- Petty Misdemeanor (not considered a crime): punishable by up to a $300 fine
- Ex: Most traffic violations
Felony Convictions in Minneapolis
Unlike some other states, Minnesota takes a different approach to felony classification. Instead of categorizing felonies, it assigns a maximum penalty for each offense. If convicted of a felony in Minnesota, individuals may face significant prison sentences ranging from several years to life imprisonment and substantial fines. Additionally, they could be subjected to probation and the loss of specific civil rights.
Collateral Consequences of a Felony or Misdemeanor Conviction
When someone is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, the immediate penalties, such as prison time or fines, are only part of the picture. In addition to these direct consequences, collateral consequences can significantly impact an individual’s life even after serving their sentence.
These collateral consequences can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific offense, but some common examples include:
- Loss of Voting Rights: In many states, felony convictions result in the temporary or permanent loss of the right to vote, which can hinder an individual’s participation in the democratic process.
- Restricted Employment Opportunities: A criminal record can make it challenging for individuals to find employment, as many employers conduct background checks and may be hesitant to hire someone with a past conviction.
- Limited Housing Options: Convictions can also affect access to housing, as landlords may be cautious about renting to individuals with a criminal history.
- Professional Licensing Restrictions: Some professions require specific licenses, and a criminal record may disqualify individuals from obtaining or maintaining these licenses.
- Loss of Firearm Rights: Felony convictions can permanently lose the right to own or possess firearms, which can be a significant restriction for some individuals.
- Limited Educational Opportunities: Certain educational institutions may consider an applicant’s criminal record during the admissions process, potentially impacting opportunities for higher education.
- Social Stigma and Relationships: A criminal record can result in social stigma and strained relationships with family, friends, and the community.
- Immigration Consequences: Non-U.S. citizens with felony convictions may face deportation or other immigration-related consequences.
These collateral consequences can have long-lasting effects on individuals, making it challenging for them to rebuild their lives after serving their sentences.
How Felony and Misdemeanor Cases Are Processed
The legal processes for felony and misdemeanor charges differ significantly. Felonies involve more serious offenses and often require a more extensive police investigation.
Felony suspects may be held in custody until a bail hearing, whereas misdemeanor suspects may be released with a citation. Felony cases typically go through multiple court appearances, including arraignment, preliminary hearings, and trials.
Defendants in felony cases have the right to a jury trial. In contrast, misdemeanor cases may proceed more quickly and may offer the option of a jury trial or a bench trial where a judge decides the case.
Contact Martine Law For Defense Against All Criminal Charges
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, whether a misdemeanor or felony, trust Martine Law to protect your rights and provide a robust defense. Our team of criminal defense attorneys is dedicated to securing a favorable outcome for your case.
We understand the legal system and will tirelessly advocate on your behalf. Don’t navigate this alone – let Martine Law be your guide.
Contact us today for a confidential consultation, and together, we’ll work towards safeguarding your future.