Understanding Felony And Misdemeanor Charges
Criminal charges of any sort should not be taken lightly. But it is also important to understand how severe a given offense is considered compared to others. For that, you need to know how criminal charges are filed and how offenses are categorized.
The lowest classification for a violation of the law is an infraction such as a speeding ticket or other traffic offense. These are generally not considered crimes, rarely ever involve a court appearance and can usually be resolved by paying a fine.
Misdemeanors are a step up from infractions, and they are considered crimes. In Kentucky and many other states, misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year of incarceration, usually in jail rather than prison. They can be either Class A or Class B, with Class A being considered more severe. Misdemeanors may also include violations, also known as minor misdemeanors.
The most serious category of crimes is felonies. Sentences can include one year or more in prison and very steep fines. Felony charges range from capital offenses to Class A to Class D felonies, with Class A being the most severe.
How Are Crimes Charged?
Some crimes are always or almost always considered felonies, and some are always or almost always considered misdemeanors. The rest are matters of prosecutor discretion. In such cases, prosecutors will usually consider many factors, including:
- The defendant’s prior criminal history (repeat offenses are more likely to be charged as felonies)
- The apparent scope of the crime (selling high quantities of drugs vs. selling small amounts, for instance)
- The impact on victims
- Number and age of victims
- Aggravating factors (presence of a gun or endangering children)
- Mitigating factors (the defendant’s apparent criminal intent or lack thereof)
In some cases (but not all), prosecutors may be open to input or important information from defense attorneys. At the very least, contacting us early in the process gives us more time to prepare an effective defense strategy.
How An Experienced Lawyer Can Help
At Bouldin Law Firm, we have been fighting for the rights and freedoms of our clients for more than 20 years. After an arrest, the best defense is contacting an experienced attorney. Our firm can help defend you. To learn more about your rights and legal options, call us at 859-581-6453 or send us an email.