Going through the criminal law system is confusing for the uninitiated. Many people have heard the terms “felony” and “misdemeanor” before, but actually do not know the difference between them.
It is common knowledge that felonies are more serious than misdemeanors, but the definition is much more technical. Speaking specifically, a federal misdemeanor is a crime that carries a jail sentence of no longer than a year.
Federal definition of a misdemeanor
There is a possibility of misdemeanors differing between states. However, the federal guidelines for misdemeanors are the same wherever you are in the country. Under federal sentencing guidelines, there are three different types of misdemeanors: Class A, Class B, and Class C.
A Class C misdemeanor is the least serious with a jail time of 30 days or less but more than 5 days. A Class B misdemeanor is in the Middle with a potential jail sentence of less than 6 months but more than 30 days. The class A misdemeanor is the most serious, and carries a jail sentence of one year or less but it must be more than six months.
What are the future consequences of a misdemeanor?
Even though misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, they can cause you many problems. For example, it is possible for a misdemeanor to be a “crime of moral turpitude.” Crimes of moral turpitude can cause you problems with finding jobs, getting scholarships or even traveling abroad.
Even if the court finds you innocent of a misdemeanor, you may wish for the court to offer you a certified finding of factual innocence. This can help you with future employers.