Felony Versus Misdemeanor: What It Means for Your Case

Indiana has two categories of criminal offenses: misdemeanors and felonies. The primary difference is that a felony charge is reserved for more serious offenses, while a misdemeanor applies to a less severe crime. However, both types of charges can impact your future in many ways, so you always want to take every criminal charge seriously. Your first step should be to contact an Indiana criminal defense lawyer for assistance. 

Different Potential Penalties

Because a felony charge follows allegations of more serious crimes, the law allows harsher penalties for felony charges than for misdemeanors. This means that if you face felony charges, the stakes are higher in your case. 

Some potential penalties for a felony conviction in Indiana include:

  • Level 6 felony = Six months to 2.5 years of imprisonment
  • Level 5 felony = One to six years of imprisonment
  • Level 4 felony = Two to 12 years  of imprisonment
  • Level 3 felony = Three to 16 years of imprisonment
  • Level 2 felony = Ten to 30 years of imprisonment
  • Level 1 felony = 20 to 40 years of imprisonment
  • Murder = 45 years to life in prison or the death penalty

One difference with misdemeanor charges is that the length of imprisonment is limited under the law to one year. Possible penalties include:

  • Class C misdemeanor = Up to 60 days in jail
  • Class B misdemeanor = Up to 180 days in jail
  • Class A misdemeanor = Up to one year in jail

Note that jail time is still a very real possibility for misdemeanor convictions, so you still need a defense attorney working to keep you out of jail in a misdemeanor case. 

Bench vs. Jury Trials

Because the jail time is limited to one year for misdemeanors, these cases are automatically scheduled for bench trials instead of jury trials. A bench trial happens in front of a judge only, who will be the trier of fact and decide whether to convict you. If you want a jury trial for a misdemeanor, your defense lawyer must request one promptly. For felony charges, you automatically have a jury trial set. 

Convictions on Your Record

If you are convicted of a felony, having that record can impact your life and freedom in many ways. For example, you cannot possess a firearm with a felony conviction, which is not the case for all misdemeanor convictions. You also might have a more difficult time finding work or housing with a felony conviction on your record, though some employers will not hire applicants with certain misdemeanors, as well. All-in-all, it is best to avoid a criminal record whenever possible.

Always Seek Help from an Indiana Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing an infraction, misdemeanor, or even a felony charge in Indiana, you should turn to the law firm of Arshad, Pangere, and Warring LLP. We have dedicated and experienced criminal defense lawyers who know how to fight all of these classifications of charges, and we obtain the most favorable results possible for our clients. Do not hesitate to contact us today to learn more about our defense services. 

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