There is a huge difference between being charged with a misdemeanor, and being charged with a felony in the state of Alabama. The former is much less severe, sometimes resulting in only a fine of up to $500. The latter is a much more serious penalty and can even result in life in prison. If you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, or are just curious regarding the specifics of what each charge entails, read on to learn more about the differences between a misdemeanor and a felony charge in Alabama.
Misdemeanor Charges Explained
The process of charging someone for a crime comes in a series of classifications. These classifications are ranked by letters, with the most severe being Class A misdemeanors and least severe titled Class C. A misdemeanor class is often determined by the objective severity of the crime. But, factors like repeat offenses and hate crimes can also play a factor in the misdemeanor classification.
A few examples of Class A are possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. Class B misdemeanors are less severe but can still contain fines of up to $3,000. These Class B misdemeanors include witness tampering and animal cruelty. In comparison, Class C misdemeanors seem like petty crimes with a maximum fine of only $500 and jail time of only three months. Additionally, one of the main differences between misdemeanor and felony charges is that misdemeanor jail time is generally served in a county jail whereas felony jail time is served in one of the larger and stricter state penitentiaries
Felony Charges Explained
In many ways, felony charges are similar in structure to misdemeanor charges. There is a classification system, only with felony charges there is an additional Class D felony, and felony charges are usually accompanied by a heftier fine. The main difference is that felony charges are reserved for much more severe crimes. Thy have incredibly large fines, and much longer jail sentences.
For instance, a Class A felony has a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $60,000 as opposed to a Class A misdemeanor which has a maximum amount of one year in prison and a $6,000 fine. This massive increase in penalty is for good reason too. Class A felonies range from first-degree rape, murder, kidnapping, and arson. Essentially, felonies are reserved for violent crimes or crimes that endanger the life of another person. An example of this is that a DUI charge can be increased from a misdemeanor charge to a felony charge if an accident occurs that injures or kills the other driver.
One More Classification…
In Alabama, there is also another classification of crime that you can be charged with. This classification is considered lesser than a misdemeanor and is simply called a violation. These violations include traffic tickets, walking a dog without a leash, and littering. These minor violations, also called infractions, are usually not serious. Typically, they are accompanied by a small fine up to $200 and no time served in county jail. The only situation where they become serious is for traffic tickets and violations, which can affect your driving record.
Whether you are facing a major felony charge, a simple misdemeanor, or a minor traffic violation you need a good lawyer like Tim Fleming. For over 30 years, Tim Fleming has been defending Mobile Alabama residents like you in court. For an attorney you can trust, call Tim Fleming Law today.