Felony Vs. Misdemeanor: What It Means For Your Case

Indiana law sets out many different criminal offenses of varying severity. While each offense has its own elements the prosecutor must prove, crimes are generally categorized in one of two ways – as either a felony or misdemeanor. 

You should always understand the nature of your charges and the potential consequences you face, and an experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney can advise you what your charge might mean for your case. 

Misdemeanor Offenses

Generally speaking, misdemeanor charges are less severe than felony charges, though this does not mean you can take them lightly. You can still face harsh penalties for misdemeanor convictions, including:

  • Class A misdemeanors = Up to one year in jail and $5,000 in fines
  • Class B misdemeanors = Up to 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines
  • Class C misdemeanors = Up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines

Misdemeanor cases are often quicker to resolve in criminal court, and you can never be sentenced to more than one year of jail time. Some common misdemeanors include first-time driving under the influence (DUI), possession of marijuana, petty theft, and more.  

Felony Offenses

Felony charges are reserved for violent crimes or crimes that caused severe financial harm or risk to others. Felonies can range from grand theft to drug distribution to murder, and include everything in between. 

Felonies mean there is the possibility of more than one year of imprisonment as a sentence. The possible sentences for felony convictions in Indiana include a possible $10,000 fine, as well as:

  • Murder (unclassified felony) = Between 45 and 65 years in prison or death
  • Level 1 felony = 20 to 40 years in prison  
  • Level 2 felony = 10 to 30 years in prison
  • Level 3 felony = Three to 16 years in prison
  • Level 4 felony = Two to 12 years in prison
  • Level 5 felony = One to six years in prison
  • Level 6 felony = Six months to 30 months in prison

Felony charges require a grand jury to indict you or a judge to rule that your felony charges may proceed at a preliminary hearing. 

When Can Charges Escalate?

In some cases, you might commit a misdemeanor offense but face felony charges. This might be due to:

  • Prior criminal history
  • Use of a weapon
  • The identity of a victim
  • The location of the crime, such as near a school
  • The degree of harm caused
  • Other aggravating factors

A skilled defense lawyer can try to get your charges reduced to misdemeanors as part of a plea agreement whenever possible, as well as present other strong defenses based on your circumstances. 

Speak with an Indiana Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help Right Away

If you are facing any type of criminal charge – whether it is a misdemeanor or felony – you need the help of an Indiana criminal defense attorney from Tanzillo Stassin & Babcock, P.C. as soon as possible. Contact us as soon as you are arrested so we can begin building your case and protecting your rights.