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What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2023 | Misdemeanors

Crimes fall under two categories. They can be misdemeanors or felonies.

These categories denote differences in the types of criminal charges you may face. Understanding the difference between them can help you if you face charges in the future.


A misdemeanor is generally less severe of a charge than a felony. Misdemeanors under Michigan law are crimes where the statute does not impose a penalty. While these crimes will come with penalties, the actual criminal code does not specify what that must be. Misdemeanors also constitute crimes that do not otherwise fall under the category of a felony. Generally, the maximum prison sentence allowable for a misdemeanor is one year.


A felony is any crime under which a person could face life in prison or the death penalty. They also include crimes with longer prison sentences or those in which the crime is of a severe nature.

Other points

Felonies often carry heavier consequences. People are more likely to have trouble finding housing and employment with a felony than they are with a misdemeanor. The weight of a misdemeanor is typically less because these are less severe crimes. Although, it is important to note that many crimes can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. For example, state law allows the crime of theft to be either one, but it depends on the circumstances. Because of this, it is often possible to plea bargain to get a charge dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor. That is something to keep in mind. If you face criminal charges, it is generally more favorable to have a misdemeanor charge than a felony.

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