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What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?


If you have ever been charged for allegedly committing a criminal violation, you were probably told that you had either A) committed a misdemeanor, or B) committed a felony. Is this something that should actually be concerning to you, or are the differences moot? In simple terms, a felony is a much more serious crime than a misdemeanor.

To be charged with a felony you need to have either allegedly done something that is widely considered egregious and unacceptable, break a federal law, or commit one crime across multiple state boundaries.

Common examples of felonies in Arizona State, and most other states, include:

To be charged with a misdemeanor, you must commit nearly any other crime that is not serious enough to be a felony. Generally, the harm or damages caused by a misdemeanor crime are readily addressed and do not affect a great number of people.

Common examples of misdemeanors in Arizona include:

Criminal Penalties for Felonies and Misdemeanors

By definition, a felony is a crime that can be penalized with more than one year of prison time, whereas a misdemeanor cannot lock you up for more than 364 consecutive days. In addition to greater incarceration durations, felonies carry higher fines in most situations – the average felony conviction requires you to pay the state at least $4,000, whereas most misdemeanors will never demand more than $2,500.

Felonies are also more intensely prosecuted by the state, as they know that “more is on the line.” This is not to say that misdemeanors are taken lightly, though; if you have been arrested and charged with a crime of any sort, you must believe that the criminal justice system intends to penalize you in one way or another.

If you have been arrested in Arizona, you should contact our Mesa criminal defense attorneys right away. We have a long record of successful case results and happy client testimonials that speak well on our behalf. We also offer free initial consultations – call 480.418.0776 to claim yours today.

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