If you want to increase the strength of your defense against criminal charges, it helps tremendously to know what you have been accused of doing. Does your charge say it is a misdemeanor? Or is it a felony accusation you are facing? Understanding the differences between misdemeanors and felonies is something that everyone should know, especially before stepping into the courtroom.
Misdemeanor & Felony Imprisonment Differences
According to the Texas Penal Code, and put into non-legalese, a misdemeanor is a semi-serious crime and a felony is a serious crime. Specifically, a misdemeanor is any crime that cannot be punished by more than 1 year behind bars, and a felony really has no limitations. If you are accused of a misdemeanor, you know you will be spending 364 days or less in jail upon conviction. A felony conviction will typically never produce a prison sentence less than 6 months and they often cap at 10 years. However, capital felony charges can be as excessive as life in prison without parole, or the death sentence.
Fines Related to Misdemeanors & Felonies
As jail and prison times escalate from misdemeanors up to felonies, so do the potential fines a convict can face. Class C misdemeanors are considered so nonthreatening that not only can there be no prison time attached to a sentencing but fines will max out at $500. For Class B and Class A misdemeanors, fines can range between $501 and $4,000. Felonies, on the other hand, can all be penalized by a fine up to $10,000 and usually no less than $2,000. It is worth noting that fines are not the same as fees; for any criminal conviction, you will be expected to pay an unpredictable amount of court fees, legal fees, processing fees, and so on, often totaling at least another $1,000.
Clearing Your Record & Defending Your Name
Misdemeanors are also different from felonies in the way that it is often much easier to expunge or close a criminal record of misdemeanors compared to felony counts. The criminal justice system is generally more forgiving for those convicted of lesser crimes.
One of the main similarities between misdemeanors and felonies is that you should always do all you can to lessen the severity of your charges and conviction. Both types of crimes can be entirely dismissed if the evidence against you is shown to be inadmissible in court, or if the prosecution has other reasons to drop its case. If you would like to explore your options and potential defenses after being arrested in Texas, contact Peveto Law and our Plano criminal defense attorney today. We have managed more than 1,000 criminal cases throughout the years!