The Severity of the Punishment
The main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the potential consequence, including:
1. The fine amount you owe 2. Whether you receive a jail or state prison sentence 3. The length of the sentence and possibility of probation/parole 4. Post-sentence community service and supervision required
Fines & Sentencing
Class B Misdemeanor Offense:
A class B misdemeanor may result in a fine of up to $2,000 with up to 180 days in county jail
Class A Misdemeanor Offense:
Class A misdemeanors may result in a line of up to $4,000 with up to one year in county jail or community supervision for up to two years.
A felony offense can lead to a fine of up to $10,000 and up to two years in county jail or up to 99 years / life sentence in state prison
A misdemeanor is less severe than a felony offense. Consequences from a misdemeanor can include fines, a county jail sentence, and community supervision. Depending on the crime, misdemeanors will be classified as Type A (more serious) and Type B (slightly less severe), and result in lower punishment than a felony. Often times, possession crimes, driving crimes, and public offenses are classified as misdemeanors.
A felony is a very serious crime, a conviction of which will impact your whole future. Felonies can result in anywhere from ten years community supervision to life in prison, with potential for parole or probation.
Additionally, prospective employers are more likely to deny employment to a person with a felony conviction, and state laws are more restrictive regarding the ability of a felon to get a state license for certain occupations. Theft crimes, violent crimes, and many white collar crimes are classified as felonies.
Probation vs Parole
If you are convicted of a felony, it is possible to get parole (early release from prison). If granted parole on your felony sentence, you will still be required to report to a parole officer and comply with drug testing. If you violate your parole, you will likely be re-sentenced to prison.
Probation (deferred adjudication) is a possible outcome for both misdemeanor and felony convictions–it is an alternative to jail rather than an early release, like parole. While under probation, you are allowed to remain in the community under certain rules and are often obligated to pay fines and perform community service hours established by the judge on your case.
While on probation, you must report back to your probation officer monthly and can be sentenced to serve your jail or prison sentence if probation rules are broken. The rules and requirements for a felony probation will likely be stricter than that of a misdemeanor probation.