Felonies & Misdemeanors: What’s the difference?

My guess is that most people have heard the words “felony” and “misdemeanor” before.  Additionally, if you have exposure to the Tennessee Court System, you might even know that a rule of thumb is that any crime that can be punished with more than a year in jail is a felony, whereas a crime with a maximum punishment of less than a year in jail (11 months, 30 days or less) is a misdemeanor.

However, in today’s post, we will take a little deeper look into the Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act and the differences between felonies and misdemeanors (specifically as to the possible punishments available for each).

The Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act is set forth in Tennessee law starting at Tennessee Code Annotated §40-35-101.  (For an online version of the Tennessee Code Annotated, click here).

Under Tennessee law, there are 5 classes of felonies (Class A, B, C, D, & E) and 3 classes of misdemeanors (Class A, B, & C).  Each class is punishable differently.

Starting with misdemeanors, a Class C misdemeanor is punishable with up to 30 days in jail and/or a $50 fine.  Class B misdemeanors are punishable with up to 6 months in jail and/or a $500 fine.  Class A misdemeanors are punishable with up to 11 months, 29 days in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

Felonies follow the same pattern as misdemeanors, the punishment becoming more severe the closer you get to a Class A.  Class E felonies are punishable by 1-6 years in jail plus a $3,000 fine.  Class D felonies are punishable by 2-12 years in jail plus a $5,000 fine.  Class C felonies are punishable by 3-15 years in jail plus a $10,000 fine.  Class B felonies are punishable by 8-30 years in jail plus a $25,000 fine.  Class A felonies are punishable by 15-60 years in jail plus a $50,000 fine.

Finally, a couple of things should be noted.  These are the possible punishments for individuals (such as if you or someone you know are being charged), not for corporations (separate laws are available for greater fines in the cases of corporations convicted of felonies).  Also, greater punishments can always be set forth in Tennessee law for a specific crime (DUI is a prime example, a crime for which there are numerous specialized punishments).

If you are facing criminal charges, please understand that this is only an elementary introduction to the Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act.  It is advisable to discuss your case with an attorney licensed in your state.

______________________________________________________________________

The author of TNLawyerLee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If you or someone you know need an attorney, please click here for Mr. Lee’s contact information and contact him today for a free consultation.  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website, www.TNLawyerLee.com or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to TNLawyerLee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

Copyright © 2012. Nicholas W. Lee, Attorney at Law. All rights reserved. This site’s content may not be used without the prior written consent of Nicholas Lee.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s