The Difference between Felonies and Misdemeanors

How can a layperson tell the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor? To begin with, the terms “felony” and “misdemeanor” are characterizations of the seriousness of a crime. All states label crimes by their level of seriousness, and felonies and misdemeanors are the two main categories.

Generally, one can say that the amount of jail time a criminal could face is the main difference between a felony and misdemeanor. But there are other factors that differentiate the two categories of criminal acts and it’s important that we all have an overview of both.



  • Severe crimes, such as murder, assault, rape, grand theft and robbery
  • The convicted criminal could face more than 1 year in state prison
  • Complete loss of all 2nd Amendment rights, such as voting, acting as a juror, and holding public office


  • Less severe criminal acts, such as shoplifting, domestic fights, and disturbing the peace
  • 1 year of incarceration is the maximum fine/punishment one can receive for a misdemeanor
  • Those convicted of misdemeanors retain all of their 2nd Amendment rights

Depending upon the state, certain crimes may be felonies, while in other states they are considered misdemeanors.  Marijuana possession is one of these crimes that may differ in seriousness from state to state.

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