What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

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By: Ollena Bennett, Esq.

When you hear that someone has been charged of a crime, the first thing most people wonder is, “Was it a felony or misdemeanor?” Well, let’s briefly explore the difference between the two.


While it is best to stay out of trouble altogether, you would rather be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony because a misdemeanor charge is less severe than a felony charge. You can go to jail for up to one year for a misdemeanor conviction in addition to being fined for up to $1,000.00. It is also important to note that some misdemeanor crimes can be upgraded to what is called a “high and aggravated misdemeanor offense” under certain circumstances. This usually happens when someone has been convicted of the same offense multiple times within a certain time period.


Misdemeanor crimes in Georgia include, but are not limited to:

  • Petty Theft
  • Prostitution
  • Public Intoxication
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Trespass
  • Vandalism
  • Reckless Driving
  • Possession of Cannabis for Personal Use


A felony is the worst level of crime that you can be charged with. Being convicted of a felony crime typically results in serving more than one year in prison. When most people think of felony crimes, they immediately think of crimes like murder and robbery. But even less severe crimes, like fraud, can be classified as felonies. Speaking with a criminal defense lawyer will assist you in understanding the breakdown of the different levels of crime.


Felony crimes in Georgia include, but are not limited to:

  • Possession of Cocaine, Heroin, And Other Drugs
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Battery
  • Theft by Taking
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping


No matter the offense, a criminal defense attorney will do their best to keep someone charged with a crime out of prison while utilizing the rights provided to citizens by the United States Constitution. It is important to contact a defense attorney as soon as you have been arrested and/or charged with any crime, even if you do not think it is severe. Your record, reputation, and freedom is at stake, and there is no time to waste.

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