When you are not being investigated for or facing criminal charges, the differences between a misdemeanor and a felony are probably pretty low on your priority list. But once you are up against the prosecution and fighting for your freedom and your rights, knowing the similarities and dissimilarities between the two can help you empower your case.
As a general rule of thumb, you can think of a misdemeanor as a "less serious" crime that only affected or would have only affected a limited number of people, and caused or would have caused a limited amount of damages. Stealing someone's watch affects one person; breaking a storefront's window only costs a couple hundred dollars to replace. Either situation would likely constitute a misdemeanor. Do not make the mistake of thinking the prosecution will not want to land a conviction, though. Misdemeanor convictions make up the majority of convictions, bolster a prosecutor's record, and still get the state money through fines. Additionally, you could be put in jail for up to one year.
A felony, on the other hand, is a "severe crime" that can, by legal definition, put you behind bars for one year or more. In fact, some felony convictions can be so harsh, you may be given life in prison without parole. In relation to the previously mentioned examples, if you stole 100 watches from 100 people, you will have committed a felony; if you broke every window in a store, the cost to replace them would be so high, it would probably be felony vandalism. The root actions are similar but the widespread or heavier consequences have elevated the crimes to felonies.
If you still have some questions about misdemeanors versus felonies and you think you need to know them to strengthen your defense case, call 803.938.4952 to connect with Masella Law Firm. Our Columbus criminal defense attorneys can protect your rights in the face of any prosecution, whether you are being accused of a misdemeanor or a felony.