Felony vs. Misdemeanor
If you have been charged with a crime in Massachusetts, you might be curious as to what the difference is between a misdemeanor crime and a felony crime.
In Massachusetts, a misdemeanor is any criminal offense that does not allow for any potential state prison time. For a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence an individual can be sentenced to is 2 ½ years in the House of Corrections. On the other hand, a felony is any criminal offense that is punishable with a state prison sentence. Certain felonies, such as murder, can allow for a life sentence in state prison. If a charge only allows for a state prison sentence, then that crime must be prosecuted within the Superior Court rather than the District Court.
Some crimes, while deemed a felony, do allow for prosecution within the District Court. If the matter remains within the District Court, then the maximum sentence that can be imposed is 2 ½ years in the House of Corrections, and therefore any potential state prison sentence is removed. The ultimate distinction between a felony and misdemeanor is therefore that a felony is any conviction that could allow for a possible state prison sentence under the General Laws of Massachusetts. “A crime punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison is a felony. All other crimes are misdemeanors.” MGL c. 274 Sec. 1.
Sentencing and ramifications between a misdemeanor conviction and a felony conviction are also important distinctions. A conviction for a Massachusetts felony can lead to the loss of your right to possess a firearm or the right to vote. Felony crimes do include drug charges, burglary, arson, armed robbery, murder, attempted murder, rape, sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault and battery. Many, but not all, felony charges require certain mandatory minimum state prison sentences in the event a guilty verdict is found.
Misdemeanors are typically heard within the District Court. These offenses normally allow for probation sentences, and no potential state prison sentence.
If you have been charged with either a misdemeanor or felony, contact Lake Shore Legal today. A strong and vigorous defense is crucial to protect you during the criminal process. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to assist you throughout the process.