The difference between felonies and misdemeanors in Maryland

A misdemeanor is distinguished from a felony in a number of ways. As a rule, the type of crime is differentiated by the amount of time you could spend in jail. Knowing the difference can help you understand how long you could potentially go to jail if you’re accused and convicted of a crime.

Did you know that a misdemeanor is defined as a crime that is punishable with up to a year in jail? You may not have to go to a high-security prison if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, which means you could go to a local jail instead. In some states, a misdemeanor is instead defined as not being an infraction or felony, which means in those states it can be harder to guess the amount of jail time that you could receive.

A felony is the most serious kind of crime, and it’s treated much differently than a misdemeanor. They are defined by having prison terms longer than a year, but punishments can extend to life-long sentences. Courtrooms must be careful to protect the person being charged, because mistakes could mean long sentences that aren’t deserved by the person being prosecuted.

Felonies are most typically crimes such as murders, homicides, burglaries, arson, kidnappings, rapes and other serious or violent actions. Felonies can also be given for lesser crimes for multiple offenses, though.

If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, it’s important to protect your rights. You can take steps to prevent the media from running amok with your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide additional information about felonies and misdemeanors.

Source: FindLaw, “What Distinguishes a Misdemeanor From a Felony?” Oct. 17, 2014