Differences Between Felony and Misdemeanor?

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on March 23, 2012 7:07 AM

There is a difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. Most Americans are familiar with the notion that a crime's classification has certain implications.

After all, felonies are typically regarded as more serious crimes. They also typically carry heftier punishments.

But that isn't all that is different between the two types of crimes.

For example, criminal procedure often governs how a trial is run and where it takes place. A court that only has jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases will not be able to hear felonies.

And the process may become vastly different. Individuals charged with capital felonies typically need to have their case heard by a jury of 12 peers. The decision made by the jury must be unanimous.

This is different compared to the procedural process afforded to other felonies and misdemeanors. Some misdemeanors and felonies only guarantee the right to have the case heard by six jurors. And sometimes jurors do not need to give out a unanimous decision.

Those charged with felonies are sometimes entitled to court-appointed counsel. Individuals charged with misdemeanors or infractions that do not result in jail time usually are not.

Criminal procedure laws may vary depending on what state you're in. So the process and jury requirements will usually be different from one state to the next.

The effects of a misdemeanor or felony conviction will also vary. For example, those who are convicted of felonies often lose their right to vote and serve on a jury. Ex-felons are also often unable to hold public office. For more information about a crime's classifications and how it may affect your case, contact a local criminal defense attorney.

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