What Are The Differences Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
In Tennessee, criminal charges are classified into misdemeanors and felonies. In general, if the crime carries jail time of less than a year, it is considered a misdemeanor. If the offense carries more than a year of jail time, it is considered a misdemeanor. The differences between a felony and a misdemeanor in Tennessee are important to how the potential consequences will impact your life.
What is a Misdemeanor in Tennessee?
As mentioned above, misdemeanors are usually punishable by less than a year of incarceration. In Tennessee, misdemeanors are categorized into three classes:
- Class A Misdemeanor Offenses – The maximum sentence for these charges is a fine not exceeding $2,500 and 11 months and 29 days of jail time. Examples include simple or domestic assault, restraining order violations, theft of goods not exceeding $1,000, and stalking.
- Class B Misdemeanor Offenses – These offenses are punishable by a fine of not more than $500 and jail time of six months. Examples include assault with offensive contact, prostitution, reckless driving, and indecent exposure.
- Class C Misdemeanor Offenses – These crimes come with a fine of $50 and 30 days of jail time. Examples include minor traffic violations like speeding, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, and using fake identification.
Misdemeanors can sometimes be bumped up to felonies. For instance, a repeat stalking offense can become a class E felony charge, but if it involves the same victim, the charge can become a class C felony. Certain misdemeanors, like theft and assault, can also be charged as felonies depending on the severity of harm inflicted on the victim.
What is a Felony in Tennessee?
Felonies in Tennessee carry the possibility of more than a year in prison or the death penalty. In Tennessee, there are five felony classifications:
- Class A Felony Offenses – These carry up to $50,000 of fines and imprisonment of 15 up to 60 years. Common class A felonies include second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, terrorism, RICO offense, and aggravated rape.
- Class B Felony Offenses – These are punishable by fines not exceeding $25,000 and eight up to 30 years of imprisonment. Examples include aggravated burglary, money laundering, and sex trafficking.
- Class C Felony Offenses – These crimes carry fines of not more than $10,000 and imprisonment of three up to 15 years. Examples are kidnapping and aggravated assault.
- Class D Felony Offenses – These offenses are punishable by fines not exceeding $5,000 and two to 12 years of imprisonment. Examples are extortion, sexual exploitation of minors, identity theft, witness coercion, vehicular assault, reckless homicide, etc.
- Class E Felony Offenses – These are punishable by fines not exceeding $3,000 and prison time of one to six years. Common examples are firearm theft, sexual battery, statutory rape, criminally negligent homicide, etc.
It’s crucial to note the only felony that is punishable by the death penalty is first-degree murder. Also, repeat gang offenders and repeat offenders of violent crimes will face enhanced felony penalties.
Reach Out to a Seasoned Davidson County Criminal Defense Attorney Now
It doesn’t matter whether you are facing a felony or misdemeanor charge, you will need proper legal representation to have the case against you dismissed or mitigate the potential consequences you may face. Contact Raybin & Weissman at 615-256-6666 or online to schedule your free consultation with our Davidson criminal defense attorney.