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Felony vs. Misdemeanor: How They Differ

Felonies vs. Misdemeanors in Tennessee

In Tennessee, as in most jurisdictions, criminal offenses are categorized into two primary classifications: felonies and misdemeanors. Understanding this distinction is crucial, as the penalties associated with each classification differ significantly. This article explores the key differences between felonies and misdemeanors in Tennessee, outlining potential consequences and more.

The Fundamental Divide: Punishment & Potential Impact

The primary distinction between felonies and misdemeanors lies in the severity of potential punishments. Felony offenses are considered more serious crimes and carry harsher penalties. A conviction for a felony can result in:

  • Imprisonment. Felonies are punishable by a minimum of one year in state prison, with some offenses carrying sentences exceeding 60 years.
  • Fines. Fines associated with felonies can reach tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Loss of certain rights. Felony convictions can lead to the loss of certain rights, including the right to vote, have certain licenses, and possess firearms.

Some examples of felonies in Tennessee include:

  • Murder
  • Assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • Forgery
  • Promotion of prostitution
  • Trafficking

Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are considered less serious offenses and carry lighter penalties. These penalties can include:

  • Jail time. Misdemeanor convictions typically result in sentences served in a local jail, with a maximum of 11 months and 29 days.
  • Fines. Fines for misdemeanors are generally lower than those for felonies, capped at $2,500.

Some of the offenses considered misdemeanors in Tennessee include:

  • Public indecency
  • Public intoxication
  • Reckless driving
  • Stalking
  • Resisting arrest

It is important to note that these are general guidelines. Tennessee further classifies both felonies and misdemeanors into subclasses (A, B, C, D, and E for felonies; A, B, and C for misdemeanors) with varying degrees of severity and corresponding penalties.

Beyond Punishment: The Long-Term Repercussions

The consequences of a criminal conviction extend far beyond the immediate penalties. A felony conviction can have a lasting impact on an individual's life, making it difficult to secure employment, obtain housing, and access educational opportunities.

The stigma associated with a felony conviction can also create social and personal challenges. Misdemeanor convictions, while less severe, can still pose obstacles to employment and professional licensing.

Here to Help You Defend Against Felony & Misdemeanor Charges

If you are confronted with criminal charges in Tennessee, it is essential to consult an experienced attorney. A lawyer can inform you of your rights, provide personalized representation, and guide you through the complexities of the legal system.

The team at Eldridge and Cravens, PC is backed by decades of combined experience, and we are committed to being aggressive advocates for our clients. Should you or a loved one face misdemeanor or felony charges, you can trust us to help you mount a rigorous defense.

To schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how our attorneys can help you, call (865) 544-2010.