We hear a lot of talk about felonies and misdemeanors these days and some of you may be wondering what makes up the difference between these terms. Let’s take a quick look at some of the disparities.
What is a felony?
In general, felonies are the most serious crimes that are committed by individuals, and they are typically any offense that is punishable by death or imprisonment for more than one year. Prosecutors and courts handle felony cases much differently than misdemeanors, due in large part to the severity of the offenses and the length of incarcerations (i.e. jail sentences) that can be imposed. Misdemeanors may or may not include jail sentences, however, if they do, they are usually shorter than one year.
What types of felonies are there?
There are a myriad of offensives defined as felonies that run afoul of both federal and state laws, and what follows are just a few common ones briefly explained:
Felony Drug Possession
Felony charges for drug possession occur when a person/defendant is found to be in possession of a particular illegal substance, or for any illegal possession of a certain quantity of specified drugs. For example, in most states, possessing any amount of heroin or cocaine (considered Schedule I substances) is a felony.
Felony Possession of a Fire Arm
Possession of a firearm by a felon (a person who has previously been convicted of a felony) is considered a serious crime and is also a felony. Usually someone convicted of this offense is sentenced to prison in terms ranging from one to three years depending on the specific state’s laws. A jail sentence for this type of felony can also bring with it other punishments which may include fines and much longer prison sentences. For example, under federal law, the crime of Felon in Possession of a Firearm is considered a Class D felony which is punishable by up to ten years in prison, three years of supervised release, and $250,000 in fines.
Felony Possession of Property
Felony possession of property can come into play if you are found to be in possession of a stolen credit card or if the property or goods that you illegally possess is over $1,000 in value. The charge would typically be a misdemeanor if the property was found to be worth less than $1,000. However, even if the value of the property in your possession is less than this amount, if a store or merchant claims you shoplifted their goods but cannot necessarily prove it, the police may still charge you with possession of stolen property.
Felony possession of a Fake ID
Though many would assume this to not be a serious crime, serious consequences can come with this charge as it relates to misrepresenting a person’s identity (i.e. illegal voting), or committing fraud or even forgery. Felony possession of a fake ID can be punishable for up to 3 years in state prison and may include formal probation, community service, and/or monetary fines up to $10,000. Misdemeanor possession of a fake ID can be punishable by up to 1 year in jail and may include summary probation, community service, and/or monetary fines up to $1,000.
As always, reach out to us at TCMSC Law if you would like more information about felony offenses or need our help with defending you or someone else in your family against these types of charges.