The Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies

The nature of any punishment will depend on if you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. The main distinction between the two is the potential prison time, with misdemeanors only carrying a maximum jail sentence of one year.

If you have been recently arrested or charged with a crime, do not hesitate to contact our Cumming, Georgia criminal defense lawyers at your earliest convenience.

Misdemeanors versus Felonies

The penalties for a misdemeanor are less severe than a felony crime, with misdemeanor crimes carrying a maximum prison sentence of 12 Months in jail or probation and a maximum fine of $1,000. However, many first-time misdemeanor offenders are sentenced to probation and are able to avoid prison time entirely.

On the other hand, felonies carry a minimum prison sentence of one year, with the potential for a life sentence for some offenses. In addition to incarceration, fines may also be issued.

However, in cases where the law does not specify the maximum fine, the court cannot impose a fine that is in excess of $100,000.

Examples of Misdemeanor Crimes

Common examples of misdemeanor crimes in Georgia include:

  • Assault
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Shoplifting ($500 or less)
  • Marijuana Possession (less than 1 oz.)
  • Theft ($1,500 or less)
  • Vandalism

Examples of Felony Crimes

Common examples of felony crimes in Georgia include:

  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Child Molestation
  • Possession of Controlled Substances

Differences in the Legal Process

In 2022, it is estimated that a crime took place in The Peach State every 2 minutes and 35 seconds. Depending on if you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor, there will be noteworthy differences in how your case will be handled. 

Bail or Bond

If you are given the option to post bail, you can expect to pay significantly more for a felony charge. Felony bail can start upwards of $5,000, while bail for a misdemeanor offense can start at around $200.

The more serious the offense, the higher bail will be set. For violent crimes, such as rape, kidnapping, or murder, a local judge or magistrate will not have the authority to set bail, making them “non-bondable” crimes.

Investigation and Trial

Generally, felonies will involve a more thorough investigation than a misdemeanor offense. Due to the gravity of a felony crime, you can expect more witnesses to be called to the stand, more evidence to be examined, and for your trial to last several months or even over a year.

Court System

If you are charged with a felony, your case will be heard in Superior Court. The Superior Court hears serious crimes, real estate matters, and family and domestic issues. State Court handles misdemeanors, most civil matters, and some traffic offenses.

Schedule Your Complimentary Consultation with Our Cumming, Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

No matter the charges against you, if you have been charged with a crime, you need legal counsel you can depend on. If you are facing criminal allegations, our legal team can help you. Contact us online or by calling 866-455-4701 to schedule your complimentary consultation.