What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

| Feb 21, 2020 | Federal Crimes

If you were being charged with a federal crime, it is important to understand all parts of the criminal law process, including the nature of the sentencing statutes that you are being charged under. All federal charges are divided into either misdemeanors or felonies. According to Findlaw, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is that misdemeanors are far less serious than felonies and tend to have fewer punishments for a shorter duration.

According to the sentencing guidelines put out by the federal government, the three classes of misdemeanors are divided by letter. They are Class A, Class B, and Class C. The Class A misdemeanors are the most serious and come with a jail sentence of up to one year but more than 6 months. One of the hallmarks of a misdemeanor is that the time in jail is no longer than one year. Additionally, the time is spent in a county jail as opposed to a prison. Finally, prosecutors tend to have a lot of flexibility when it comes to charging people with misdemeanors, and plea bargains are extremely common.

On the other hand, felony crimes are far more serious. Federal guidelines divide felonies up into five different classes: Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class E. Felonious crimes are considered some of society’s most egregious, including all of the murder charges, rape, kidnapping, and arson. The most serious felonies are charged under the Class A statutes, which involve either life imprisonment or the death penalty. A Class E felony is the least serious and involves a charge of up to five years but more than one year.