What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal


(972) 369-0577

Felonies are punishable by possible jail over 1 year and misdemeanors are punishable for 1 year or less under Texas law.

Beyond that, Felonies obviously carry a somewhat more negative stigma meaning it is more difficult to be hired for a job, get a loan, or even be allowed to coach your child’s athletic team.

Collateral Consequences

Felonies also carry more collateral consequences — or consequences which aren’t directly related to criminal punishment itself than misdemeanors.  For example, being a felon can make firearm possession illegal, can prohibit you from holding public office or even from voting.

Felonies typically have more adverse immigration consequences than misdemeanors though immigration courts tend to use their own guidelines when determining the severity of a crime.

Crimes of Moral Terptitude

Some misdemeanors can have consequences every bit as severe as felonies.  Examples can be theft charges which can make professional licensing more difficult.  A theft charge on someone’s record can cause someone to lose job opportunities where trust is required such as an being a bookkeeper or sales clerk.

Affirmative findings of family violence can also carry felony-like consequences for the purposes of future enhancement or the denial of 2nd Amendment firearm rights.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any situation you should consult an attorney directly.



One Response to What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

  1. Thanks for the information! My son was accused of a misdemeanor, but he might have a court ruling that’s more severe than he originally thought he would get. I was wondering why that is until I read this information. There’s only so much information about my son’s misdemeanor, but I’m not sure if the consequences of his actions should be as severe as a felony. He has a theft charge, so there’s a chance that he’ll have trouble finding a new job as a result. Is there any way for him to find a lawyer who could make his court ruling less severe? It seems like he deserves a ruling that fits a misdemeanor, and not a felony charge.

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