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What are some difference in criminal charge classifications?

Most people know that there are two broad classifications of criminal charges. Those are felonies and misdemeanors. There are very specific differences in these two types of criminal charges that you should know about if you are facing charges.

What is the basic difference between felonies and misdemeanors?

In the most basic sense, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is that the felony is considered the most serious of the two charge types. A felony is associated with penalties that are more serious than those associated with a misdemeanor.

Are all defendants given the right to have an attorney?

You always have the right to have an attorney represent you if you are charged with a criminal charge. If you are charged with a misdemeanor that isn't associated with incarceration, you likely won't have the right to a court-appointed attorney, so you would have to retain your own council.

How does the court process differ?

Generally, a felony charge that is considered a capital offense would mean that you would have your case heard in front of a 12-person jury that would have to come to a unanimous agreement about your fate. With other felonies and some misdemeanors, the jury wouldn't have to agree unanimously, and you might only have a six-person jury instead of a 12-person jury.

Even if you are facing misdemeanor charges, you should take your defense seriously. Your defense is often the best chance that you have to keep the penalties that you will face to a minimum. That doesn't mean the penalties will go away if you are convicted.

Source: FindLaw, "Differences Between Felony and Misdemeanor?," Cynthia Hsu, Esq., accessed July 08, 2016

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