How Is a Felony Different from a Misdemeanor?


If you are facing criminal charges, it’s essential to fully understand the severity of your charges. Not all criminal accusations are the same, and there are two very important classifications for crime that are used in Washington and throughout the U.S.

You’ve probably heard the terms “misdemeanor” and “felony” before, but have you given much thought to what these terms really convey? If you’re like most people, you probably know that a felony is a more serious criminal offense than a misdemeanor is. This is one of the primary distinctions between these types of crimes, but how exactly are they different?

Misdemeanor Charges

In Washington, misdemeanor crimes aren’t as serious as felonies – but keep in mind that they’re still crimes and a conviction will show up on your criminal record. Misdemeanors can range from petty theft to disorderly conduct, and even relatively minor violent crimes.

Misdemeanors are further distinguished from felonies in their sentencing. Someone convicted of a misdemeanor often serves up to 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, while someone convicted of a gross (serious) misdemeanor can face up to a year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.

Incarceration isn’t always included as a punishment for a misdemeanor conviction. In many of the common and less serious offenses, those who are convicted are only responsible for fines and court fees.

Felony Charges

As mentioned previously, felonies are more serious crimes than even gross misdemeanors. These are crimes that can include aggravated assault, most sex crimes, high-value theft, and homicide crimes like murder.

If you are convicted of a felony, you can expect to serve a prison sentence beyond a year. Depending upon the nature of the crime and sentencing guidelines, you may be sentenced to several years, decades, or life in prison. In October 2018, the death penalty was abolished in Washington.

Are You Facing Criminal Charges?

Regardless of whether you are accused of a misdemeanor, felony, or a combination of these charges, you need an attorney to help you with your defense! At Hester Law Group, our lawyers have many years of experience helping our clients fight the charges against them.

Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online today!