What's the difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

If you have been charged with a crime, you will hear a lot of legal terms you might not know.

The #1 most important thing to remember is that you cannot be forced to say anything.

The #2 most important thing to remember is that you have the right to an attorney.

Exercise your rights and call us!

Number 3 on the list is: what are your charges? There are significant differences between trial procedure, punishment, fines, even bond for a felony and a misdemeanor, so it is important to know the difference.

Hiring an experienced attorney can mean the difference between a conviction and a dismissal. I was in criminal court every working day from 2008 to 2015. Know that you are getting an experienced criminal trial attorney!

What is a misdemeanor?

Indiana classifies crimes by the level of seriousness. Generally, traffic offenses and noise disturbances are called "ordinance violations" (OV cases) or "infractions" (IF cases). One level up are lower level crimes misdemeanors, either A, B, or C. What difference does it make? Take a look:

Class A misdemeanors- A Class A misdemeanor is the highest level misdemeanor. The maximum possible sentence is 365 days in the county jail. The minimum sentence is 0 days in jail. If your jail sentence is suspended, that means you won't be in custody, but you may be on probation or have other conditions. Some examples of a class A misdemeanor are DUI/OVWI, and Battery resulting in bodily injury, Invasion of Privacy (or violating a restraining order), and Theft. The maximum fine is $5,000.

Class B misdemeanors- Class B misdemeanors have a maximum possible penalty of 180 days in jail. Public intoxication and possession of paraphernalia are both B misdemeanors. The maximum possible fine is $1,000.

Class C misdemeanors- Class C misdemeanor is the lowest misdemeanor category. The penalties range from 0 to 60 days in jail. Some examples of class C misdemeanors are Minor in Possession of Alcohol and Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol with a BAC between .08 and .15, if there is no danger to another person. (Most of the time, though, if you're charged w/ DUI, it will be charged as both an A misdemeanor and a C misdemeanor). The maximum possible fine is $500.

What is a Felony?

Indiana classifies a felony as a crime that is punishable by law more than a year in prison. In Indiana, jail sentences longer than Three Hundred Sixty-Five (365) days are served in the Indiana Department of Corrections. Sentences shorter than one year, are served in jail in the county where you were convicted.

Felonies in Indiana range from Murder being the most serious, followed by Level 1 felonies, and then decreasing in severity to level 6.

Murder: Murder is so serious, it doesn't have a felony level. Generally, a murder sentence ranges from a term of 45-65 years in the Department of Corrections (DOC) and up to a $10,000 fine. If you were 16 or older at the time of the murder, you may be sentenced to life without parole. If you were 18 or older at the time of the murder, you could be sentenced to death, unless you lacked mental capacity. The maximum fine is $10,000.

Leve 1 Felony-A level 1 felony is the most serious felony. It's penalty ranges from 20 and 40 years in prison. An example of a level 1 felony is attempted murder, depending on the circumstances alleged in the probable cause affidavit. The maximum possible fine for every felony is $10,000.

Level 2 Felony- A level 2 felony carries a penalty of 10-30 years in prison, an example of a level 2 felony may be voluntary manslaughter, depending on the facts of the case.

Level 3 Felony- A level 3 felony can give you 3-16 years in prison, some examples of a level 3 felony are causing Suicide, Aggravated Battery, Rape, Child Molesting.

Level 4 Felony- A level 4 felony carries an imprisonment of 2-12 years; an example is arson.

Level 5 Felony- A level 5 felony gives you a penalty of 1-6 years in prison, some examples of this felony are involuntary Manslaughter, Reckless Homicide, Vicarious Sexual Gratification, Child Solicitation, Sexual Misconduct with a Minor, Robbery, Burglary.

Level 6 Felony-A level 6 felony is the lowest level of seriousness in the category of felonies it carries a penalty 0.5-2.5 year in prison, some examples of a level 6 felony are theft, Auto Theft, Fraud, Forgery, Possession of a Controlled Substance, OWI with a Prior Conviction with 5 Years, Neglect of a Dependent, Criminal Confinement, Strangulation.

Give me a call if you are charged with a crime, I will be able to help you every step of the way. I'm a solo practitioner which means you will get more personalized attention. If I can't take your call, one of our knowledgeable and kind staff members will answer and assist you. Always leave a message. We will call you back within 24 hours.