June 19, 2024


General Attorneys

What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

2 min read

What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

Criminal charges fall into three general categories. The first, infractions, are relatively minor traffic-related charges that involve no threat of jail time. The maximum fine for an infraction is usually around $250.

More serious crimes are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. The classification of the charge depends on a variety of factors, as does the punishment. If you were arrested on criminal charges in San Francisco, a good criminal law attorney can help advise you of the best possible way to build your defense.

What is a misdemeanor?

Misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in local county jail, and fines of up to $2,500. Examples of misdemeanors include:

Petty theft


Public intoxication

Simple assault

Reckless driving



Drug possession

While a misdemeanor conviction can be seen on your public record, the severity of the offense affects how long it stays on your record. Misdemeanor sentences can also include community service, probation, suspension of your drivers license, and restitution to the victim. Misdemeanors can be wiped from your record after your sentence is served, and you are not required to inform employers about them. This allows more privacy for the defendant.

What is a felony?

Felonies are more serious crimes punishable by incarceration in state prison in excess of one year and fines of up to $150,000. Felonies are subject to death penalty sentences as well. Examples of felonies include:






Property damage exceeding $500

Grand theft

Aside from imprisonment, being convicted of a felony has long-term consequences such as loss of voting rights, ineligibility for public office or jury duty, and inability to possess firearms. A felony conviction can stay on your record forever. If you are accused of violating criminal laws and face felony charges in the San Francisco area, contacting a criminal law attorney is the best thing you can do to help your case.

What are wobblers?

Several charges are considered wobblers in California-meaning that they could be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. If you are facing criminal charges for a wobbler, hiring the right criminal law attorney is absolutely essential to providing the best possible outcome for your case. The right attorney can help make sure you are charged with a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

What to do if you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony

If you are facing criminal charges, contacting a competent criminal law attorney as soon as possible is the best thing that you can do for your case.

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