Differences Between Felonies & Misdemeanors

There are a number of differences between felony and misdemeanor charges from when they are leveled to the impact a conviction has on the rest of your life. Let’s look at a few of the major differences between felonies and misdemeanors.


A misdemeanor has classes. A class C misdemeanor is minor like speeding or disorderly conduct. A class B misdemeanor is a little more serious. This list includes reckless driving, drunk driving, domestic violence, and assault without an injury. Class C misdemeanors include child abuse, violation of a protection order, and thefts involving several thousand dollars.

Felonies have degrees. A third-degree felony is aggravated assault (threatening with a gun but not causing injury) or theft over five thousand dollars. A second-degree felony is more severe. It includes burglary of a home, sexual assault and aggravated assault with injury. A first-degree felony encompasses the truly heinous, violent crimes like rape, murder and child sexual abuse. There are also state and capital felonies. Capital felonies are the only ones that can be punished with the death penalty, though it is more likely to become life in prison without parole. The only capital felony in Texas is capital murder.


In Texas, a class C misdemeanor has a maximum fine of 500 dollars. A class B misdemeanor has a maximum fine of 2,000 dollars. A class C misdemeanor has a maximum fine of 4,000 dollars. These fines may be charged in place of or in addition to jail time. The maximum fine Texas allows someone found guilty of a felony to pay is 10,000 dollars.

Jail Time

The amount of jail time you could be given depends on the class or degree of the crime. However, no misdemeanor sends you to prison for more than a year. That is only possible if you’re found guilty of a felony. Furthermore, misdemeanor convictions tend to result in a stay in the local county jail, not a high security prison. Prosecutors have flexibility in determining how offenses can be punished, if you’re guilty of a misdemeanor. This is why they could send you to 90 days of drug rehab instead of prison, if it is a misdemeanor drug charge.

A felony has a punishment of more than a year. That is the basic definition of a felony. Felons are generally sent to a state or federal correctional institution. You’re more likely to be sent to a prison far from home.

The Legal Process

If you’re accused of a felony, you have the right to a trial by jury. However, you have the right to have the case tried by a judge, too. In every case, you should have a good Texas attorney by your side the moment you’re arrested or accused of a crime.

Impact on the Rest of Your Life

The question about felony convictions on job applications can affect every aspect of someone’s life. A felony conviction could prevent you from renting an apartment in a safe area or working in any sensitive position. Not only are you banned from working as a bank teller, but you may not be allowed to work the cash register in the local fast-food joint.

Some employers ask if you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor, but this is less common. It is often considered less serious unless it is directly related to the job. For example, someone convicted of drunk driving won’t be considered a serious candidate for a commercial driving job. But that conviction won’t affect their ability to work in the back office.

Consider talking to a prominent Fort Worth misdemeanor lawyer to help you get a better understanding of these differences and the penalties given for each.

Also: Types Of Felonies In Texas
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