The legal system can be confusing, and in criminal law one of the biggest areas of confusion is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. Understanding the difference between the two will give you a better idea of the consequences of each type of conviction.

Finding Future Employment

One of the ways a felony can be more problematic than a misdemeanor is in the pursuit of a job. For some positions, people with felonies are not able to apply. Some specific employers choose not to employ felons, while other whole industries have standards preventing the hiring of people with felonies. Misdemeanors are considered more minor and generally have less of an impact on one’s ability to get a job. However, there is still significant prejudice against people with any conviction, which can make finding a job more difficult in either case.

Serving a Sentence

Another big difference between felonies and misdemeanors is the actual punishments for the crimes themselves. In California, the minimum sentence for a felony is one year in state prison, which can have serious consequences for your future and freedom. In addition to prison time, felonies can also come with large fines and significant legal ramifications in the future. The kinds of facilities for felony punishment can be more difficult and even dangerous for inmates. People with misdemeanors may spend their sentence in jail rather than prison and have less severe punishments overall.

Removal of Rights

One of the biggest differences between a misdemeanor and a felony is that in many places citizens lose more of their rights if one is convicted of a felony. Depending on where a person lives, a felony on their record can prevent them from serving on a jury, working in particular professions, or buying a firearm. In some states, people lose the right to vote after being convicted of a felony or may have to go through a specific process to receive that right again. That means that a felony can have a significant negative impact on a convicted person’s life not only now but also in the future.

Understanding the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor can be helpful as you navigate and learn more about the legal system. The consequences of a felony can be much more severe than a misdemeanor for a person convicted of a crime and may put parts of their life on hold.