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Confused by Felonies and Misdemeanors? This Guide will Help

When you’ve been accused of a crime, there’s a whole host of issues and problems that suddenly take over. When can you get a lawyer? What will court be like? Can you afford to pay a fine? Will you go to jail? Will you lose your job? What will your family think? But amidst all these perfectly legitimate questions is often confusion and misunderstanding over what exactly you’ve been arrested for. 

Legal terms are bounded around all over the place, making it difficult to get your bearings before you’re fully understanding of what’s going on. Of course, your lawyer will be able to assist you with anything related to your case that you don’t understand, but for many people, even the simplest of legal terms such as felonies or misdemeanors can cause confusion. What is the legal definition for a misdemeanor? Click the link to find out more. 

Want to know more? Read on for a simple guide to felonies and misdemeanors. 


Disturbing the peace

Disturbing the peace is classed as a misdemeanor. This charge comes in many variations including:


The classification of this crime usually depends on the severity of the theft itself and how much was taken. It’s this information that will determine whether or not this crime is classed as a felony or misdemeanor. Criminal charges could result in everything from a fine to jail time depending on the state you’re in and the severity of the theft.

Indecent exposure

Again, the crime of indecent exposure can vary between being classed as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the crime. If you’ve exposed yourself to someone in public then this would usually be considered a misdemeanor. Indecent exposure has the potential to be raised to a felony if the crime was committed against a child. However, the age of the child in question varies per state. 

Traffic violations 

These are probably the most common of all misdemeanors and you’ve probably heard of some of them before:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light
  • Driving under the influence of drink or drugs
  • Driving without a license
  • Driving with no insurance

There are driving felonies which of course are much more serious. These can include:

Of course the punishment e.g. jail term, fine etc depends on the severity of the crime that has been committed.


Assault is another crime that can cause confusion, again, it is the severity of the crime that determines whether or not it is a misdemeanor or a felony. If the defendant in question threatened violence against someone but didn’t follow through with their threats, then this is usually classed as a misdemeanor – it can still come with jail time and a significant sentence. If the assault actually took place and actual bodily harm is confirmed, then it would then be classed as a felony.