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The difference between misdemeanors and felonies

Kentucky residents who are facing criminal charges could end up dealing with two different types: misdemeanors or felonies. It may not be common knowledge, but these two categories are quite dissimilar in how they're viewed legally. They can have drastically different impacts on a person's life, as well.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a felony as a crime differing from misdemeanors. These are usually grave crimes and come with accordingly severe punishments. As an example, the federal law demands prison stays of more than one year for felony convictions. Felony charges are also viewed with an intensely negative lens in the eye of the public, especially because a person's record will show that they have a felony conviction, but may not necessarily show what the conviction was for. Since felonies can range from drunk driving to murder, the unknown factor can be unsettling or disturbing to some.

Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are described by the Legal Dictionary as being a minor wrongdoing. They're considered lower stakes crimes than felonies and can sometimes be penalized with fines or imprisonment outside of penitentiaries. It's possible for a person with a misdemeanor charge to face up to a year of time in county jail. Misdemeanors can include behaviors like public intoxication, petty theft, disturbing the peace, traffic violations, or DUI charges that don't involve injury to others.

As you can see, the difference between felony and misdemeanor convictions can be stark. However, some crimes can also be classified as either. DUI crimes can fall under this umbrella, which is why it's important for a person to know where they stand in terms of charges.

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