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The Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor

If you have been charged with a crime in Tennessee, you may be confused about what some of the legal terms mean. While some phrases are straightforward, many people do not understand the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor.

According to LifeSafer.com, felonies are the most serious crimes you can commit. There are certain actions that will usually be considered a felony and others that will depend on the circumstances. If you are convicted of a felony, you will usually lose all voting rights, access to public housing and adoption privileges, as well as any professional licenses that you have held.

A misdemeanor, on the other hand, will more often result in a jail sentence of under one year and a punitive fine. Firearm permits can be denied and professional licenses can be revoked. If the cause was drunk driving, you may also be required to install an ignition interlock device. This level of crime is more serious than an infraction and the penalties can be severe.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, states that felonies and misdemeanors are divided into different levels, depending on their severity. Misdemeanors will fall into an A, B or C level and carry a fine of $50 to $2,500 and jail time of under 30 days to 11 months and 29 days. Felonies can fall into one of five levels and result in one to 60 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $50,000. The highest level is referred to as a capital crime and punishable by death or life imprisonment.