Any criminal offense is a serious matter, but some crimes have more significant consequences than others. Because not all offenses are equal, the criminal justice system divides them into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Understanding the difference between these two types of crimes will help you select an attorney and guide your decisions about how to handle your case.
The Difference Between Misdemeanors & Felonies
What Is a Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are considered the least severe criminal charges, including offenses ranging from simple drug possession to petty theft. In North Carolina, misdemeanors are classified into four categories, according to the severity of the offense and maximum sentence.
Class 3 misdemeanors are considered the least serious crimes, usually resulting in no more than a fine if you have fewer than four previous convictions. Simple assault, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest are considered Class 2 misdemeanors, with maximum jail terms of 60 days and fines of up to $1,000. Class 1 and Class 1A misdemeanors are more serious, resulting in longer jail terms and significant discretionary penalties.
What Is a Felony?
More serious crimes are considered felonies, with penalties ranging from three months in jail to life in prison without parole. In North Carolina, these crimes are divided into ten different categories, each with consequences that depend on the defendant’s criminal record.
These often range from assault and battery to first-degree murder, so the legal challenges can vary significantly from one felony to the next. Defendants accused of stealing a dog or making terroristic threats may face a Class I felony, potentially resulting in jail terms of three to 12 months. The most severe offenses, such as murder, are considered Class A felonies, punishable by life in prison or the death penalty. If you’re facing felony charges, finding an attorney with experience handling similar cases can be instrumental in achieving a favorable outcome.
If you’ve been accused of a crime anywhere in the High Point, NC, area, turn to the attorneys at Hill & Hovis. With over 60 years’ combined experience and an impressive track record of results, you can rely on their team to provide the aggressive representation you deserve. Their licensed attorneys can help you navigate your current legal situation and craft a defense strategy that will give you the best possible result. Visit their website for more on their criminal law services, and call (336) 883-6000 to discuss your case with a respected defense attorney today.