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The Difference Between Misdemeanor & Felony Charges

All crimes are classified into one of three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Most people have heard these terms before, especially on television when watching the news or their favorite crime drama. While these different terms are fairly well-known, the difference between them isn’t so much. However, this difference could play a huge role in your case, including determining what types of penalties you could be facing and what consequences you can expect to face after you have completed your sentence. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between these three types of crimes.

Violations

Violations are the most common type of crime, and also the least serious. If you run a stop sign, get cited for speeding, or park in a handicapped spot without a permit, you will be cited for a violation, which means you’ll simply have to pay a fine. As you can imagine, the vast majority of violations are things like traffic tickets, though there are a few non-vehicle related crimes that are also violations. These are pretty mundane however: they carry no jail time and have no permanent criminal history, although you may get a few points on your driving record, which your insurance company will probably use to increase your rates.

Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are a major step above a violation, and this is where you could start seeing jail time as part of your sentences. However, misdemeanors are usually served in local or county jails as opposed to state or federal prisons. The other signifying factor is that misdemeanors carry a 12 month prison sentence at the absolute longest. Anything longer than that would automatically be upgraded to a felony charge. Misdemeanors almost always feature a fine as part of their penalties as well, although they too are quite a bit lower than a felony charge.

Felonies

Felony charges are the most serious type of crime. Often reserved for the most serious violations, including major thefts, acts of extreme violence, and substantial harm to victims, these crimes can carry penalties well in excess of a year, with some of the most serious even carrying decades’ worth of prison time in a state or federal facility for a guilty conviction on a single charge. Unlike a misdemeanor, many felony crimes carry the “presumption of probation,” which means you will be entitled to a contract of probation, allowing you to serve your sentence outside of prison. However, this is not guaranteed, and you will be sent to prison if you violate the terms of your probation agreement.

Felonies also carry an abundance of added consequences after you have completed your sentence. Convicted felons lose a number of rights that those who have clean criminal records are automatically granted, including the right to vote in elections on all levels (federal, state, county, and local), the right to own a firearm, and the right to work in certain professions. Some professions require a criminal record that is free of certain types of convictions, such as medical professionals who are forbidden from having any violent crime history.

Do I Need an Attorney?

In short, yes, you absolutely should retain the services of a Kansas City criminal defense attorney in order to give yourself the best possible chance at a successful outcome. A skilled lawyer will have the knowledge and experience needed to combat against the judge and jury, and present your arguments in an impactful and effective way. When so much is on the line in terms of penalties, which can include large fines, incarceration, probation, and many other options, you need an ally on your side who can stand up for you and your freedoms.

Rokusek Stein Law, LLC can provide you with this much needed counsel! Contact us today by dialing (913) 583-0465 and ask to receive a free initial case evaluation!

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criminal defense firm

attorney rokusek is a mock trial instructor for the johnson county police academy and serves on the federal criminal justice academy (cja) panel for the district of kansas and on the federal attorney appointment list. she is also a master attorney in the earl e. o'connor american inn of court.

at rokusek law, llc, our lawyers have a reputation for offering a high-standard of professional service. this is shown by the multiple honors that we’ve been awarded over the years.

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