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How is a Felony Different than a Misdemeanor?

The criminal justice system of the United States breaks all criminal acts down into two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Other than that basic knowledge, not many people actually know the differences between the two, or that a third type exists as well.

Misdemeanors Vs. Felonies Vs. Infractions

A misdemeanor is generally considered a crime that causes harm, financial damage, or considerable inconvenience to a moderate degree, or to only one or two people. Most criminal acts on the books are misdemeanors because of this broad definition. The penalties associated with misdemeanor convictions are generally capped at a few thousand dollars in fines – most cap at $1,000 – and less than a year in jail; additional forms of penalty may be used, such as mandatory counseling or community service.

A felony is any crime that is inarguably serious by nature, causes widespread or severe harm, or violates federal law. Due to the fact that most people do not actually want to cause serious harm or a major inconvenience to another person, felony charges are infrequent, but they must be taken seriously whenever they arise. Penalties upon a felony conviction, by definition, must include at least one year in prison; sentences can be extended all the way to life without parole for violent felonies or those that disenfranchised many. Fines related to felony convictions may also be steep, often ranging over $5,000 but capable of going into the millions.

Lastly, an infraction is an action that constitutes the very minimal form of a crime. Punishments for infractions cannot carry jail time and rarely put a mark on a person’s criminal record. At most, a person can expect to pay a few hundred dollars in fines. Infractions do not usually go through the criminal court system, so a person ticketed for one is expected to pay the fine without having a chance to defend themselves. Minor traffic violations, such as failing to stop at a stop sign, are common examples of infractions.

If you have been arrested in Las Vegas for a misdemeanor or felony, let the Law Office of David R. Fischer know. Our highly-experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney may be able to fight on your behalf and have your charges reduced or dismissed. Call 702.866.9864 and ask about our free case evaluations.