Misdemeanor Vs Felony Charges in Rockville
In Maryland there are two types of criminal offenses someone can be charged with: misdemeanor offenses and felony offenses. While felonies tend to be more serious, each is relatively unique and warrants attention from an experienced Rockville criminal lawyer. Read below to learn more about the different between these two types of crimes and call an attorney today to discuss your case.
What Crimes Constitutes Misdemeanors and Felonies?
Misdemeanors are usually criminal acts that are less serious than felony charges. Misdemeanors, generally speaking, are non-violent in nature with the exception of misdemeanor assault charges. Misdemeanor offenses usually carry less significant penalties.
When you think about a misdemeanor offense, you think about things like:
- Possession of small amounts of marijuana or other controlled dangerous substances
- Disorderly conduct
- Malicious destruction of property
- Domestic violence-related minor assaults or minor assaults that might have taken place between individuals where there wasn’t a significant risk of more serious physical injury
Those are all the kinds of cases that are deemed misdemeanor offenses, where prosecutors will be unlikely to seek jail time if a person didn’t have any prior criminal record unless the circumstances of the case were particularly offensive misdemeanor cases. Also, misdemeanors are typically heard before a judge at a bench trial rather than a jury.
Felony charges in Montgomery County are the charges that are more serious in nature. Typically felony charges include things like:
- Armed robbery
- Crimes that are violent in nature
- Crimes where people might come with an intent to commit injury or damage
- Crimes where a weapon might have been used
Those are felony related crimes and are usually heard in the circuit court for Montgomery County and are crimes where even people who are first time offenders could see serious consequences like decades up to life imprisonment or life time registration on the sex offender registry or five years of supervised probation. Those kinds of offenses are what we will consider to be the more offensive criminal acts towards others.
What Makes Felonies More Serious?
Usually felony offenses involve a higher level of severity than you see in misdemeanor cases. However, this doesn’t mean that the elements are not present in both kind of cases. For example a misdemeanor offense of theft would be somebody going and stealing $500 from somebody else. A felony offense of theft where somebody stole a $100,000 from somebody else would still be the same act of stealing, it’s just the amount in that kind of a criminal case that makes it a felony versus a misdemeanor.
On the other hand for sex-related offenses, somebody who is raped is not the same as somebody who is alleging a fourth-degree sex offense. Somebody who is raped is actually claiming forceful vaginal or anal intercourse and somebody who is alleging a fourth degree sex offense is claiming that they were violated but it may have been over the clothes touching of perhaps their breast area or over the buttocks. Obviously the level of severity of those kinds of charges are very different.
There may even have been weapons used in the rape case that were not used in the fourth degree sex offense case. In these situations there are very extreme differences between what the elements were of rape case versus a fourth degree sex offense case and what might typically be the elements in one versus the other. But that’s not a rule across the board because there are some felony charges that are simply felonies because of the amount of drugs or the amount of money that was involved as opposed to the criminal act itself actually being different.