What is the Difference Between a Felony and Misdemeanor?

Most people realize that felony criminal offenses are more serious than misdemeanor criminal offenses, but not many more details than that. There are significant differences between misdemeanor and felony crimes under Texas law, and everyone who has any contact with the criminal justice system whatsoever should be knowledgeable about those differences.

Felony crimes typically require some element of physical harm to another person. However, there are some crimes classified as felonies, such as white-collar crimes, which also are felonies under Texas law. As a general rule, a felony conviction carries a minimum sentence of one year in prison, up to a maximum of life in prison. Additionally, a capital felony can lead to the death penalty. The practical repercussions of a felony conviction are more serious than for a misdemeanor conviction, as well. For instance, a felony conviction can keep you from working certain jobs or pursuing careers in certain fields.

Misdemeanor crimes are much less serious crimes on the whole, but they also are punishable by jail time and fines, as well as by probation, community service requirements, and payment of restitution. The jail term for a misdemeanor conviction is usually one year or less.

Penalties for both felonies and misdemeanors also differ depending on whether the party convicted is an individual or a corporation. If the defendant is a corporation, it typically does not receive jail time. Rather, the corporation will be subject to significant fines for a criminal conviction.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a boutique law firm focusing on large, complex business and criminal financial-related litigation, including white collar criminal defense, securities fraud, health care fraud investigation, criminal appeals and state criminal defense. Whether your charges are misdemeanors, felonies, or both, we have what it takes to resolve your situation in the most effective manner possible. When you need dedicated legal advice and counsel from a Texas criminal defense lawyer, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244, email us at dan@cogdell-law.com, or fill out the online form located here.