Felony vs. Misdemeanor

Felony
Misdemeanor

Felonies are more serious crimes that carry much higher penalties (jail term) than misdemeanor. In states like Texas, California, Washington and several others that have the 3 strikes law, persons convicted of a felony who have been previously convicted of two or more violent crimes or serious felonies usually receive a life sentence.

For example, murder or armed robbery are felonies while shoplifting is a misdemeanor. In several states, possession of small amounts of marijuana has been downgraded to a misdemeanor. The penalty for misdemeanors often involve only a fine and no jail term. If a jail term has been ordered, it is usually less than 1 year.

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Felony

Misdemeanor

Severity More severe crimes Less severe crimes
Examples Murder, robbery, grand theft Shoplifting, domestic fight
Punishment Can go to state prison for more than 1 year A sentence of less than 1 yr in county jail and/or fine
Effect on civil liberties Complete loss of second amendment rights, right to vote, serve on jury and hold public office No effect on civil liberties

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