What is The Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

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The Damianakos Law Firm represents people in Tucson that have been charged with both
felonies and misdemeanors. Both types of crimes require an aggressive defense, although most
people are more intimidated by the potential consequences of a felony conviction.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, it’s crucial to understand the gravity of the charges you’re
facing and the possible outcomes you may face.

Not All Crimes are Created Equal

The lowest form of crime is an infraction. Infractions are crimes that are victimless, and they
typically fall in line with “not following the rules.” Minor violations like rolling through a stop sign,
littering, or jaywalking would be considered infractions.

Infractions are punishable by fines, and they don’t appear on your criminal record. Although you
shouldn’t commit infractions, you don’t have to fear that a future employer will see that you have
a history of littering. You usually do not need to face the court for an infraction. All you have to
do is pay the fine in full by a specified date, and the issue is resolved.

Misdemeanors are more serious than infractions. Misdemeanors appear on your criminal
record, and you’ll need to appear in court. Many misdemeanors are punished with fines,
although short periods of jail time are a possibility for some first offenses and most second

Felonies are serious crimes that involve substantial fines and jail time. Some felonies may be
punishable by probation, particularly if they’re among the lowest level of felony and the
individual convicted doesn’t have a criminal record.

Common Misdemeanor Charges

● Aggressive speeding or aggressive driving
● Some DUI cases
● Shoplifting
● Vandalism
● Leaving the scene of an accident
● Disorderly conduct
● Possession of drug paraphernalia

● Minor in possession or consumption

Common Felony Charges

● Aggravated assault
● Sex crimes
● Homicide
● Manslaughter
● Burglary
● Arson
● Some DUI cases

Misdemeanor Classifications

In Arizona, misdemeanor crimes have 3 classifications.

  1. Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanors. If convicted, you may serve
    up to six months in jail and pay a maximum of $2,500 in fines.
  2. Class 2 misdemeanors are punished by a maximum of 4 months in jail and $750 in fines.
  3. Class 3 misdemeanors are punished with a maximum of $500 in fines and a maximum
    of 30 days in jail.

Misdemeanors send you to jail. Felonies send you to prison. Neither is an enjoyable place to be.
Many people charged with misdemeanors will not face jail time if they’re represented by an
experienced attorney. First offenses are typically the easiest for an attorney to navigate,
although the circumstances surrounding offenses will give an aggressive attorney plenty of
room to maneuver.

Felony Classifications

Arizona felonies have 6 classifications. Felony penalties are far more complicated. There are
presumptive sentences, but each felony can be treated in as many as five different ways. Many
people may not face the presumptive sentence for the class of felony they’re charged with.

  1. Class 1 felonies are exclusive to murder in the first or second degree. There is no clearly
    defined presumptive sentence for either of these crimes. Penalties are defined by a
    lengthy series of statutes.
  2. Class 2 felonies have a presumptive sentence of 5 years in prison.
  3. Class 3 felonies may carry a penalty of 3.5 years in prison.
  4. Class 4 felonies can result in a punishment of 2.5 years in prison upon conviction.
  5. For Class 5 felonies, the presumptive prison term is 1.5 years.
  6. Class 6 felonies come with a presumptive sentence of 1 year in prison, but can often
    result in longer periods of probation.

Felonies are far more complicated crimes. They involve fines and many stipulations outside of
these presumptive sentences. Fines and other requirements largely depend on the crime
committed, and may involve payment of restitution, loss of driving privileges, or other
consequences that will throttle your freedom and negatively impact your future.
Felonies aren’t something you can take your chances with. The presumptive punishment is
almost always a significant amount of prison time. An experienced attorney can thoroughly
examine the case and advocate for fair justice. In some circumstances, this may eliminate the
possibility of prison time or reduce it below the presumptive incarceration period.

You Need an Attorney No Matter What You’re Charged With

You don’t need an attorney if you’re facing an infraction. That’s something you can typically
handle on your own, unless you believe you’re wrongfully facing that infraction. You do need an
attorney if you’re facing a misdemeanor or felony charge.

Many people don’t contact an attorney when they’re contending with a low level misdemeanor
because they aren’t concerned with the possibility of jail time. While you may not go to jail, that
misdemeanor will still follow you for the rest of your life. Every time you apply for a new job or
attempt to rent an apartment, the person considering you as an applicant will see that you have
a criminal record.

While some potential employers or landlords may be willing to overlook certain misdemeanor
charges, most will be unwilling to overlook felonies. Even if you only serve a year in jail, you’ll be
facing the consequences for the rest of your life. Don’t take your chances with inadequate legal

Call Us When You’re Facing Misdemeanor or Felony Charges

Elias Damiankos brings unique experience to the table. As a former Arizona prosecutor, he
possesses personal insight into the way the court works for misdemeanors and felonies. He
knows how to thoroughly examine every detail of a case and aggressively pursue the best
possible outcome for every client. No two cases are the same, and not everyone should be
subjected to the presumptive sentence.
When you’ve been arrested, your right to an attorney is the most important right you have. Call
us for a free consultation. We accept collect calls from jail, and our lines are open 24/7. The

sooner you call us, the sooner we can begin to prepare the most thorough defense for you.
Don’t answer any questions until you speak to us.

24/7 Phones Answered Collect Calls from Jail also Accepted. 
177 N. Church Ave. 85701

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Elias Damianakos Criminal Defense Attorney

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