Understanding Your Charge
Being charged with a criminal offense can have a devastating impact on your reputation, finances, employment prospects, and your ability to own a home — almost every aspect of your life.
Unfortunately, many people who are charged with a crime enter the criminal justice system without any knowledge of its workings at all, and even worse, without any knowledge of their rights. As someone who believes that knowledge truly is power, I found this to be unacceptable. That’s why I took it upon myself to research some of the ins and outs of the criminal court system — starting with felonies vs. misdemeanors. While this is by no means a complete list of everything you need to know, it can certainly be beneficial to you in your loved ones if needed.
Felonies vs. Misdemeanors
All crimes are, in fact, not created equal. If you have been charged with a crime, you can be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. Understanding the difference between both is crucial to understanding both your case and your rights.
A misdemeanor is a charge for less serious crimes — such as possession of marijuana or shoplifting — and thus, they usually carry far less severe punishments. While the punishments for misdemeanors depend on the state in which they are tired, they involve less than one year in a county jail and a fine. Being convicted of a misdemeanor has no effect on any of your civil liberties, meaning you will still be able to possess a firearm, vote, serve on a jury, and hold public office if you are convicted.
Misdemeanors usually come in three types: Class A, Class B, and Class C misdemeanors. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious, and thus carry more serious penalties compared to Class B and Class misdemeanors.
A felony, on the other hand, is a much more serious conviction. Examples of felony crimes include first-degree murder or embezzlement. The penalties for these crimes depend on the crime and the state of course, but they can be far longer than the one year in county jail sometimes required by misdemeanors. In cases of first-degree murder, convicted felons may face capital punishment in some states — otherwise known as the death penalty.
Those who are convicted of a felony also lose many of their civil liberties, or at least have them severely limited. For example, felons are often barred from exercising their Second Amendment rights and owning a gun. They are usually not able to vote while serving their sentences, and may face restrictions on when they can vote after prison. They usually are not able to serve on juries or run for public office, either.
What You Should Do
Whether you’ve been accused of a felony or misdemeanor crime, the first thing you should do is reach out to a defense attorney like Ian Inglis Attorney at Law. A defense attorney can help represent you in court so that you can avoid being charged with the crime or have your penalty sufficiently reduced.