No one ever wants to be charged with a crime, but sometimes you may unfortunately find yourself in that position. This is not only frightening, but it can also be very confusing. Not all crimes are equal, and depending on the severity, you could be in only a little trouble or possibly face prison time. There is a big difference between a felony and a misdemeanor, though it is not always obvious which you are facing.
All cases are different, and many factors are at play. However, some key differences help differentiate the two. Your future and record are on the line, so it is important to understand those differences and know how to handle such a situation should it arise. A reputable Colorado criminal defense attorney should be consulted as soon as possible if you hope to protect your future.
The Key Difference Between Felonies and Misdemeanors
Felonies and misdemeanors are how we broadly categorize crime based on the severity of the offense. A felony offense is generally the worst crime you can commit, such as murder, armed robbery, arson, child abuse, and rape. A felony will carry heavy fines, long prison sentences, and perhaps even a permanent loss of freedom.
A misdemeanor offense, on the other hand, while still illegal, is categorized as a less extreme crime. Petty theft, vandalism, battery, and disorderly conduct count as misdemeanors. While some of these do still carry jail time, the sentences are much lighter and will leave a lighter mark on your record.
A lawyer will also have an easier time arguing down your sentence and perhaps even getting you off with a warning in some cases. Ideally, you will only be facing a misdemeanor charge. However, even with a felony, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can work to reduce your potential sentence. It all depends on the details of the case.
Can a Misdemeanor Become a Felony?
While you may feel safer with only a misdemeanor charge, that can be raised to a felony. During the investigation and trial, other evidence can be brought to light, which enhances your charge. If you are a repeat offender, you also will likely face a more severe penalty for a misdemeanor charge.
For example, simple assault is usually a misdemeanor. However, if it is found that a weapon was involved, that changes it to aggravated assault, which is a felony. The extent to which the victim was hurt affects this, as well.
Aggravating factors are circumstances that can arise in your case that add to your sentence. A judge may find that you are unremorseful or that you committed the crime in front of a child. These are only examples, but they can and will make your sentence that much harsher. This can be more fines, longer jail time, or even increasing a misdemeanor to a felony charge.
Fight Your Charges With a Criminal Defense Attorney
When you find yourself facing criminal charges, you do not have to face them alone. An aggressive criminal defense attorney will be on your side, working with their full skill and experience to defend your innocence and protect you from steep sentencing if possible.
The Harrell Law Firm, PLLC is a trusted, experienced law firm serving the entire state of Colorado. Our firm is more than happy to take on any criminal defense needs you may have, so reach out for a consultation by calling or completing our online contact form.