Misdemeanors and felonies are both charges that you don’t want to have on your record. Both can affect your ability to obtain a job or to rent an apartment you love. Some may make it harder for you socially, whereas others could hold you back when you’re looking to go to college.

Misdemeanors and felonies have similarities, but they’re not the same. The main difference comes down to the required jail time.

Misdemeanors usually are punishable by up to a year in jail, whereas felonies are usually punished with a year or longer in prison. With a misdemeanor, the prosecution has a great amount of leeway when deciding how to charge a crime and what penalties to seek. Felonies, on the other hand, are strict. They still have a range of penalties, but there are sometimes mandatory sentences that have to be carried out upon conviction.

Felonious crimes tend to be more severe than misdemeanors. For example, felonies may include arson, burglary or murder. Misdemeanors might include drug possession or trespassing. Although both include various criminal acts, felonies tend to be those seen as particularly negative by society.

If you’re accused of a felony or misdemeanor, it’s important to defend yourself. Regardless of the severity of the crime, it’s still possible to face an unfair penalty. Having an attorney on your side helps you be certain that any biases against you aren’t present during sentencing if you end up with a conviction. He or she will help you be certain you understand the law, any plea deals offered and what steps to take next.

Source: FindLaw, “What Distinguishes a Misdemeanor From a Felony?,” accessed Jan. 18, 2018