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What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

If a Louisiana resident is arrested on suspicion of committing a crime, many people may not be aware that the categorization of the offense determines how the case is treated in the court system. To put it simply, not all criminal charges are created equal-the penalties differ based on the category of crime one is accused of.

Infractions are the least serious type of crime, in which a police officer sees someone doing something wrong and gives them a ticket. Usually, the person who receives the ticket has to pay a fine. A common example is a traffic violation, where people have to face little to no court time and even less jail time, unless the ticket remains unpaid and the fines pile up.

A level more serious than infractions is a misdemeanor. A crime that is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail time is generally known as a misdemeanor. It is even possible to spend that time in a county jail instead of a high level prison. When it comes to misdemeanors, there is generally a lot of discretion in the hand of the prosecutors as to decide what crime they should charge someone with and the accompanying penalty.

The most serious types of crimes are called felonies. If a crime is punishable by prison time of more than one year, it is considered a penalty. Therefore, the long term consequences of a felony conviction are more severe than those of other categories of crimes. Since these crimes are also considered severely by society, the effect on one's reputation is also considerable. Examples of felonies include kidnapping, burglary and rape.

It is important to know what type of crime one is being accused of committing in order to understand the gravity of the situation. However, all criminal charges, especially felonies, should be taken seriously and a strong defense prepared in order to ensure one's rights are protected in a court of law.

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