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How do felonies and misdemeanors differ?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

If you’re arrested in the state of Texas, you will likely get charged with either a misdemeanor or felony. Felonies and misdemeanors are two different types of crimes, making it important to understand the potential impact of each.

Misdemeanor crimes

Misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felonies, and they carry lighter sentences. They usually come in the form of fines or short prison terms that last no more than a year. One of the most common misdemeanors is driving under the influence or DUI. Typically, a first DUI offense will result in up to six months of jail time and a $2,000 fine. However, misdemeanor offenses can also include more serious crimes, like sexual assault or theft.

Felony crimes

On the other hand, felonies are more serious crimes. They come with much harsher penalties than misdemeanors, including prison sentences of years or decades and fines in the thousands of dollars. Some examples of felonies include drug trafficking, murder, rape, assault, burglary, robbery, fraud, and even DUI if it results in injury or death.

Increased charges

Some misdemeanors may turn into felonies if the crime is particularly severe. For example, a misdemeanor assault can turn into a felony if the victim suffers serious bodily injury or disability as a result of the attack.

On top of that, felonies can be “enhanced” if certain factors are present. For example, a misdemeanor assault may become an enhanced felony if the victim is pregnant or elderly or if the defendant has a prior criminal record. For example, a man who was previously convicted of misdemeanor assault can face harsher charges if he commits a second assault.

Because felony convictions come with longer prison sentences and higher fines, you may want to try getting felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor after you’ve been arrested. It may also be possible to get the charges completely dismissed.