Felony vs Misdemeanor – Difference and Comparison

What is Felony?

Felony is a type of offense whereby the punishment is “rigorous imprisonment”, which normally comes with a long period of serving time. The imprisonment punishment for a Felony might come with or without a fine.

A felony is a crime that results in the confiscation of a convicted person’s property. In England, punishments that come with felonies always had the possibility of being capital punishment.

The above-named reason is one reason that’s at the center of reasons why for some time, a felony suspect trying to flee can be stopped or chased around with lethal force in the USA.

This has been re-modified, as the United States Supreme Court has concluded that deadly force is not ALWAYS justified for a fleeing felony suspect.

Also, a felony is an offense punishable by death and has a higher period or jail term.

However, after serving criminal sentences: the supposed term for being a felon, the status of being an ex-felon does not just go off the records easily.

Being an ex-felon in the books can result in the denial of professional licenses, denial of the right to vote, exclusion from the ability to purchase and or possess firearms, ammunition, etc.

Other denials include ineligibility for government assistance, prohibition from serving on a jury, and many more.

Common examples of Felonies include murder, attempt to murder, rape, and armed robbery.

What is Misdemeanor?

In Criminal Law, if a kind of offense committed has its punishment to be either fine or simple imprisonment – with or without a fine, this is what’s called a misdemeanor.

Misdemeanors are low-level charges with less severe penalties. Most than not, some misdemeanor charges are considered felonies wrongly in some states.

But this yardstick used in determining if a crime is a misdemeanor depends on the state you are in.

A misdemeanor can also be charged as a felony, depending on who is charging you and how they decide to charge you.

An example of this situation is when you get into a fight at the bar, then you break a bottle and haul it at someone. This type of offense can be pressed either as a felony or as a misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor conviction can result in a criminal record, which can make it difficult for you to find a job or secure a house, as business owners and house owners request to see your criminal record at the point of taking you in.

Common examples of misdemeanors include petty theft, trespassing, and minor assault.

Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor

  1. A felony is a more serious offense that is punishable by death or imprisonment for more than one year while a misdemeanor is a less serious offense that is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for less than one year.
  2. Felonies involve violence, and they, therefore, have much harsher penalties while a misdemeanor conviction doesn’t involve violence.
  3. Felonies are more difficult to prosecute compared to misdemeanors, as the burden of proof is higher for felonies than it is for misdemeanors.
  4. Felonies are prosecuted by the state, while misdemeanors are prosecuted by the county. This is because felonies are more serious crimes and are subject to more serious penalties.
  5. In addition, a felony conviction will stay on your criminal record for life, while a misdemeanor will only stay on your record for a few years.

Comparison Table Between Felony and Misdemeanor

Parameters of ComparisonFelonyMisdemeanor
Gravity of offenseFelonies are the most serious transgressions. They come with long prison sentences.A misdemeanor is a minor crime that comes with simple punishment of 6-12 months imprisonment; with or without a fine.
Sentence TermMore than one year.One year or less
Prosecution AuthorityFelonies are prosecuted by the states they are committed in.Misdemeanors are prosecuted by the counties they are committed in.
Violence InvolvementFelonies contain violently perpetuated acts.Misdemeanors do not entail violent conduct.
Criminal RecordFelony convictions stay in convicted individuals’ records for life.Misdemeanor charges do not stay on your record for life.


  1. https://arxiv.org/abs/2203.14077  
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20877705