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Understanding your charges: Misdemeanors vs. felonies

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

When you break the law, the courts assess relevant factors before receiving appropriate punishments for the crime you committed.

In Georgia, the crime categories – either a misdemeanor or a felony – vary depending on the severity of penalties. In comparison, a misdemeanor is a less severe offense than a felony. The state also considers infractions, which are basically violations too petty to be criminal. An example would be a traffic ticket that often only necessitates paying a fine. In some cases, there is little to no jail time.

By breaking down key differences, you or a loved one may prepare to face criminal charges and anticipate what the future holds.

Crime-to-crime basis

Georgia law identifies criminal differences in exhaustive detail to allow for suitable sentencing, while also looking at other unique considerations, such as an offender’s criminal history and the impact of the crime they committed.

  • Misdemeanors: These may be standard cases, like theft and simple assault, which often become of high and aggravated classification if it tends to be a violent and repeated crime against vulnerable groups or authorities.
    • Imprisonment: Not exceeding a year
    • Fines: Ranging from $1,000 for less violent cases to $5,000 maximum for more severe offenses
    • Expungement or restricting records from public view: Automatic removal for dismissed or not guilty charges
  • Felonies: Some of the most violent felony examples include murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. Other examples are varying degrees of arson, and privacy or home invasion.
    • Imprisonment: Minimum of one year and lasts up to 25 years, and a death sentence for extreme cases
    • Fines: At least $1,000 minimum
    • Expungement or restricting records from public view: Possible for dismissed or not guilty charges, depending on the overall circumstances of your case, but a felony conviction means you can’t have your records removed no matter how much time has passed or even if you received a pardon.

If you fall into a life of crime, it could significantly impact other aspects of your life, such as your job or education, living conditions, relationships and reputation. If you can return to your previous lifestyle and try to rebuild, you may soon experience daunting challenges, especially with societal judgment.

Build your defenses

You can protect your future if you have a good understanding of your current circumstances. Your defense team can explain the state’s complex laws, answer all your questions and guide you through all possible defense strategies. They will work with you for a fighting chance during these dark times.