The Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor

felony and misdemeanor

A question was recently sent to us through the Best Self Defense Weapons Mailbag. The question reads, “In the articles under Gun Laws by State, I keep on encountering the terms ‘felony’ and ‘misdemeanor’. I know that these two are charges resulting from breaking the law but what makes them different from each other?”

So many people are indeed confused on the nature of felony and misdemeanor, so let’s tackle their differences in a very simple and understandable way.


Basically, a felony charge arises when a person commits a very severe crime that may result to grave injury, loss of life, huge damage to property, loss of expensive property or other serious consequences. Some examples of crimes that fall under this category are arson, grand theft, robbery and murder.

The punishment for a felony goes more than one year, which can be served in a state prison, and the resulting claims in civil damages are definitely more than misdemeanor charges. The amount varies though depending on the gravity of the crime and the law of the state where the conviction occurred.

Another notable feature of felony is it results to the complete loss of civil liberties listed under the Second Amendment, loss of right to vote, loss of the right to hold a position in a public office and loss of the right to serve on jury.


Misdemeanor, on the other hand, is a simple misconduct. The charge is served for less severe crimes like simple domestic violence, DUI (driving under the influence), shoplifting, simple battery, jaywalking, and other conducts that are offensive in nature but with a degree lesser than felony.

It should be remembered that a misdemeanor can turn into a felony if there are circumstances that aggravates it (for example, if there was someone injured during an episode of DUI) or a certain misdemeanor has been committed repeatedly. The view of some state laws in acts that constitute felony and misdemeanor may also vary (for example, some states take jaywalking seriously and penalizes offenders with felony charges).

For the punishment, a misdemeanor carries less than a year of imprisonment which can be served in a county jail. Some misdemeanor offenses can only carry a fine though while others may have both imprisonment and a fine depending on its nature.

Source: Diffen

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