The most essential difference between a felony and a misdemeanor rests mainly with the penalty and imprisonment for each. The duration of punishment and where someone serves their time is also a major factor. There are nuances, twists, and turns with every inch of these laws.
Felony vs Misdemeanor
There isn’t much difference when you look at how the law prosecutes a felony or a misdemeanor. Both types require that a formal charge is brought, but a felony’s charge is slightly more formal.
With a felony, you can tell how serious the crime was based on the degree. First degree is the most serious, then second degree, and so on. Felonies are usually punished by a substantial fine, time served in prison, or even death based on the state in which you are sentenced. Felonies include serious crimes with which we are all familiar: murder, grand theft, aggravated assault with a weapon, etc.
Misdemeanors are widely accepted to be less serious crimes. DUIs and minor drug offenses are routinely considered misdemeanors and are punishable by a fine and jail time. Some states, like Kansas and Missouri, have different classes of misdemeanors. With a misdemeanor, jail time is usually served in a local or county jail rather than a state or federal prison.
In Kansas, a complicated system is used to categorize felonies. The sentencing guidelines are used by judges to choose a sentence for a crime. These guidelines divide crimes by severity and prior offenses. Based on where you may fall on the grid, that’s how your sentencing is determined. There are some crimes that are considered off-grid and they are usually very serious.
Misdemeanors in Kansas are separated into classes. Class A Misdemeanors, such a possessing marijuana, are the most serious while Class C Misdemeanors are the least serious and will usually result in no more than one month in jail and a $500 fine.
Missouri categorizes felonies on a scale from Class A as the most serious to Class E as the least serious. The felony scale decides penalties so that courts have a clear guideline to follow. The penalties are:
- Class A: The punishment can’t be less than 10 years and can’t exceed 30 years, or life imprisonment
- Class B: Defendant can’t be given less than 5 years, and the punishment can’t exceed 15 years
- Class C: Not less than 3 years, not to exceed 10 years
- Class D: Cannot exceed 7 years
- Class E: Cannot exceed 4 years
In Missouri, misdemeanors also have a similar class system, but there is no Class E. Rather, there is an Unclassified category and the punishment may be found in an applicable statute in Missouri law.
As you can see, trying to navigate the penal system without legal advice and assistance can be extremely difficult. That’s why it’s helpful to have a knowledgeable criminal attorney to guide you through the process.