What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?


Understanding The Classification of Crimes

If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a crime, you probably have many questions, especially when feeling unsure about the future. When it comes to yourcriminal defense, it’s critical to be prepared and knowledgeable about the type of crime with which you’ve been charged — as well as the consequences you could face.

Crimes are classified into three categories: felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions — with felonies being the most serious of charges and infractions the least serious. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Felony?

Felonies are the most severe criminal offenses. In Michigan, a felony crime is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. Felony sentences are typically served in a federal or state prison. Someone who has been convicted of a felony is known as a felon. Repeat felons (someone who has been convicted of a crime twice for various crimes) often face harsher sentences.

Felony Examples and Classification of Penalties

Felonies are categorized into eight different categories. Here are the penalties associated with each:

Class A Felony

A Class A Felony is the highest felony degree and is punishable up to life in prison. Common Class A felony charges may include:

Class B Felony

A Class B Felony is punishable up to 20 years in prison. Common Class B felony charges may include:

  • First degree reckless homicide
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Child abuse
  • Child pornography or child sexually abusive material
  • Second degree kidnapping
  • Assault and battery
  • Second degree arson
  • Gambling fraud
  • Aggravated stalking
  • Attempted murder
  • Possession of cocaine or heroin

Class C Felony

A Class C Felony is punishable for up to 15 years in prison. Common Class C felony charges may include:

  • Human trafficking that results in harm to another person
  • Manslaughter
  • Injury to another person
  • Robbery

Class D Felony

A Class D Felony is punishable for up to 10 years in prison. Common Class D felony charges may include:

  • Human Trafficking
  • Larceny (theft of property valued at $20,000 or more)
  • Embezzlement (theft or misappropriation of funds valued at 20,000 or more)

Class E Felony

A Class E Felony is punishable for up to 5 years in prison. Common Class E felony charges may include:

  • Carrying a firearm or other weapon with unlawful intent
  • First degree retail fraud/shoplifting
  • Third degree home invasion

Class F Felony

A Class F felony is punishable up to 5 years in prison. Common Class F felony charges often are related to manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with intent to manufacture, create, or deliver a controlled substance.

If you've been charged with a felony relating to marijuana, it’s critical to speak to an attorney to learn your rights, as cannabis laws in Michigan can be complicated.

Class G Felony

A Class G felony is punishable up to 2 years in prison. Common Class G felony charges may include:

  • Knowingly drawing on insufficient funds for over $500 (writing a bad check)
  • Domestic assault
  • Lobbyist giving gifts

Class H Felony

Facing a Class H felony may be punishable by serving jail time or probation. Common Class H felony charges may include:

  • Stealing state-issued identification cards to commit a felony
  • False representation to obtain or misuse personal information

Loss of Rights as a Felon

In Michigan, individuals convicted of a felony crime will lose the right to:

  • Own or possess firearms/ carry a concealed weapon
  • Own a liquor license
  • Own a gaming/casino license
  • File a civil rights complaint
  • Serve on a grand jury
  • Join the military

Despite being arrested and charged with a felony, in the state of Michigan, felons will still have the right to vote except when they are incarcerated at the election time. Someone with a felony conviction may also lose their right to hold a job in specific fields that require state or federal licensing such as healthcare or childcare.

What is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is punishable for up to one year in prison. Misdemeanors are sorted into classes with varying parameters of how long someone can be imprisoned for each type of misdemeanor offense.

Misdemeanor Examples and Classification of Penalties

Misdemeanors are categorized into three different categories. Depending on the severity of the criminal offense, the following penalties may apply:

93-Day Misdemeanors

Someone charged with the following misdemeanor crimes could face up to 93 days in jail as well as a $500 fine or 3x the value of stolen times plus court costs:

  • First offense DUI
  • Driving without a license
  • Assault and battery
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Shoplifting, embezzling, or destroying goods worth less than $200

1-Year Misdemeanors

  • Someone charged with the following misdemeanor crimes could face up to 1 year in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, or 3x the value of stolen items as well as court costs:
  • Shoplifting, embezzling, or destroying goods worth between $200 and $1,000.
  • Second-offense DUI
  • Intentional discharge of a firearm (without intent to harm)

High Court Misdemeanors

A high court misdemeanor is a crime that is less serious than a felony but is punishable up to years in prison, a fine up to $2,000, or both. Some examples of a high court misdemeanor include:

  • Aggravated indecent exposure
  • Negligent homicide by vehicle
  • Resisting and obstructing arrest
  • Possession of analogs (Vicodin, Oxycontin, Xanax)

What is an Infraction?

Infractions are the least serious offenses and can be defined as a violation of a rule, ordinance, or law. Infractions are typically punishable by fines; however, federal law classifies infractions as a crime with a jail sentence of five days or less. Some common examples of infractions include:
Traffic violations

  • Trespassing
  • Littering
  • Drinking in public

Charged with a Crime? We Are Here to Help You.

Being charged with a crime is a frightening situation, and when you fear all hope is lost and don’t know where to turn for help, it can make it that much more taxing. At Grewal Law PLLC, our team of attorneys is experienced and skilled in handling criminal cases and understand how to navigate the legal system. You can rest assured that your best interests are in mind in achieving the best possible outcome involving your criminal charge.

Call Grewal Law PLLC at (888) 211-5798 to schedule a consultation and learn your rights.

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