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Understanding the differences between misdemeanor and felony charges

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2024 | Criminal Defense

When it comes to criminal charges in North Carolina, it is important to grasp the distinctions between misdemeanors and felonies.

These categories significantly impact the severity of the offense and the potential consequences individuals may face.

Misdemeanor offenses

Misdemeanors are less serious crimes that typically involve minor infractions. Individuals charged with misdemeanors may face consequences such as fines, probation or a short jail sentence. In 2021, 24% of misdemeanor convictions included an active punishment. Common misdemeanor offenses include petty theft, disorderly conduct or simple assault.

Felony offenses

On the other hand, felony charges in North Carolina involve more serious crimes that carry substantial penalties. Felonies range from property crimes like burglary to violent offenses such as armed robbery or assault with intent to cause serious harm. The consequences for felony convictions are severe, often leading to lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines and a lasting impact on an individual’s life.

Key differences in sentencing

One important distinction between misdemeanors and felonies is the potential length of imprisonment. Misdemeanors typically result in shorter jail sentences, usually less than a year, while felonies can lead to much lengthier terms of incarceration. Additionally, the fines associated with felony convictions are generally more substantial than those for misdemeanors.

Impact on civil rights

The classification of the crime also affects an individual’s civil rights. Conviction of a felony may result in the loss of certain rights, such as the right to vote or own firearms. Misdemeanor convictions, while serious, often do not carry the same long-term consequences for civil rights.

Whether facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, the right defense may help bring about a more favorable resolution.