26 Jun 20

Differences Between Class A Misdemeanor Vs Felony

| by

Last Updated on: 6th August 2023, 02:18 am

Differences Between Class A Misdemeanor Vs Felony

Any individual who is navigating the criminal justice system must become familiar with it. They must know what charges they are facing and the nature of the laws behind them. Individuals should also know about the differences between types of charges and what those charge types mean for their cases. Knowing the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is essential

Limits to punishments

The most obvious difference between the class A misdemeanor and the felony is the degree of potential punishment that a person may receive. Perhaps the most basic definition of any misdemeanor is a crime for which a person can only be sentenced to a maximum of one year in jail or a particular fine. No matter how severe the misdemeanor is, it is always bound by those statutory parameters. A felony, on the other hand, does not have an upper limit. The death penalty is still prescribed by courts for the most heinous murders. In less severe cases, individuals can face years or even decades in prison. There are statutes that guide sentencing in felonies, but the hard limit is often incredibly severe.

States and the federal government also approach these two types of cases differently. They will often press for jail time for felonies, even those committed by first-time offenders. With misdemeanors, jurisdictions almost always push for pre-trial interventions and other methods of punishment. A person may face a significant stretch of probation and a hefty fine in lieu of jail.

Nature of the crimes

Misdemeanor charges are often significantly different from felony charges. They are different in kind and involve less serious offenses that do not do as much damage to society or other individuals. The crimes that make up a large number of misdemeanors include petty theft and traffic violations. Many of these crimes are either understandable or do not involve serious injury or malicious intent to another party. They do not show a depraved or inherently criminal attitude. But some charges change in class depending on the size and severity. For instance, a person may steal a small amount of money and receive a misdemeanor while a larger amount would have resulted in a felony.

There are also crimes that a person commits multiple times which are upgraded to a felony. The most common example of this is drunk driving. An initial drunk driving charge is considered a minor misdemeanor in most states. But the severity of that charge increases significantly with each instance. It becomes a felony at a certain point and can result in a hefty jail sentence and the permanent revocation of a person’s license.

Restrictions to freedom

The simple status of misdemeanor versus felony means that there are a number of differences in the way different institutions and companies treat a person with a misdemeanor compared to a felony. The process of expunging a record is much easier with a misdemeanor. A person only has to wait a few years and can go through a relatively simple process. Many landlords deny housing to people who have committed a misdemeanor in the past three years or a felony in the past five years. Some of the bans that are permanent with a felony are only temporary with a misdemeanor. A number of professions will ban someone from serving in that profession with a felony conviction on their record. They will treat a person with a similar misdemeanor charge less harshly.


Anyone who is facing a class A misdemeanor should not dismiss its severity because it is not a felony charge. Instead, they should retain a lawyer and bail out of jail as quickly as possible. While it may not do as much damage as a felony, a misdemeanor is still an incredibly damaging part of a person’s life and a stain on their criminal record. It should be treated with the utmost seriousness and severity by anyone afflicted with such a charge.

Misdemeanors vs Felonies What are the Differences?

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony? A misdemeanor is a lesser offense criminal act. Usually, a misdemeanor is punished less severely than other crimes. A monetary fine is typically the consequence of a misdemeanor charge.

In contrast, a felony is the most serious type of crime. A felony conviction involves jail time. In addition to jail time, a felony can also come with a fine and other long-term impacts.

The Categories of Crimes

Not all crimes are evaluated the same. Within the United States, each state separates crimes into categories. The seriousness of the crime is what determines the classification. The following are the most common categories of crimes:

• Infractions
• Misdemeanors
• Felonies

It is important to note that within each category, there are subcategories and classes. Each category has different punishments and regulations.


If you create a ranking system for crimes, the infraction is the least severe. About other crimes, an infraction is the least serious. You can receive an infraction if you violate a law, ordinance, or rule.

In most cases, an infraction does not result in any jail time. The main punishment of an infraction is a required fine payment. At most, an infraction can result in up to 5 days in jail. A common infraction is a traffic violation.


A misdemeanor is a step above an infraction. A crime classified as a misdemeanor can result in jail time that is less than one year. There are different classes of a misdemeanor. The classes are determined by the amount of required jail time.

The major classes of misdemeanor offenses are:

• Class A Misdemeanor – More than 6 months of jail time, but less than 1 year
• Class B Misdemeanor – More than 30 days of jail time, but less than 6- months
• Class C Misdemeanor – 30 days or less jail time, but more than 5-days

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor and required to serve time, it will most likely be in county jail. Ultimately, the prison term is decided upon by the prosecutor.


The most serious type of crime you can commit is a felony. Trying to classify a felony can be confusing. The federal government and states can classify the term differently. According to the government, a felony conviction is required to have a minimum punishment of one year. Some states are not as strict with their classification.

For example, some states do not define the term felony. The te of New Jersey does not use classification for their criminal offenses.

The facts mentioned above are not the majority ruling. Most states define a felony by the length of jail time required. Also, where you serve your jail time is a factor of a felony charge.

A felony is a crime that requires more than a 1-year jail sentence in a federal or state prison.

Felony Classifications

Similar to a misdemeanor, a felony is divided into classes. They include:

• Class A Felony – The most severe felony class. Requires life in prison or the death penalty
• Class B Felony – Mandates 25 years or more in prison
• Class C Felony – More than 10-years, but less than 25-year
• Class D Felony – More than 5-years, but less than 10-years
• Class E Felony – More than 1-year, but less than 5-years

Misdemeanor vs. Felony

The type of crime determines the severity of the punishment. In most cases, a felony will result in jail time. You can expect to spend more time in jail for a felony charge, as opposed to a misdemeanor.

Fines are usually more associated with misdemeanor charges. A felony crime will show up on your record. A felony can potentially prevent you from getting a job or applying for federal assistance programs. In most cases, a misdemeanor will not show up on your criminal record.

If you are battling a felony case, seeking the advice of an attorney is wise. A lawyer can help you to understand your rights and the severity of the case. A misdemeanor may not require the counsel of an attorney.

Both a felony and misdemeanor is a crime. The difference is, one is less severe than the other.