Classification of criminal charges is very important
Most criminal acts in Alabama fall under the classification of misdemeanors or felonies. Very minor issues, such as simple traffic violations, might be considered infractions. When you are facing any charge in the criminal justice system, learning its classification can help you understand the possible implications of a conviction.
A misdemeanor charge is one that’s more serious than an infraction, but less serious than a felony. Misdemeanors can hold the possibility of incarceration, but that is usually served in the local jail instead of a prison. Some misdemeanors also carry fines. Probation and other sentences, such as community service, are also possible.
A felony charge is a more serious charge. If you are charged with a felony, you will be branded as a felon if you are convicted. A person who is convicted of a felony faces the possibility of being incarcerated in prison. Usually, felony charges are associated with possible prison sentences that are at least one year in duration. Fines, probation and other sentencing options can also apply to felony charges.
Generally, prosecutors are given some discretion about how they charge specific crimes. It is sometimes possible to have charges reduced through a plea agreement. If you are facing criminal charges of any sort, you should understand that prosecutors tend to try to ensure the severity of the sentence ordered matches the severity of the crime they are prosecuting. That doesn’t mean that you will agree with the sentence if you are convicted, but it does provide a good reason to ensure your defense is as strong as possible.
Source: FindLaw, “What Distinguishes a Misdemeanor From a Felony?,” accessed April 22, 2016