What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

A “misdemeanor” is a crime where the highest possible punishment is one year in the county jail or a $1,000 fine. A “felony” is a more serious crime where the penalty could include a longer county jail or state prison sentence. State prison is a different place than county jail, and only people who have been convicted of certain felonies can be sent to state prison. A person who is convicted of a felony could also be placed on probation, depending on the charges and circumstances.

Each crime has its own range of possible sentences, and some crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Getting an idea of what possible sentence you are facing depends on a lot of different factors including the charges, the county where you are facing charges, and your own individual case and background, among other things. An experienced criminal defense attorney like Mr. Rios who knows the ins and outs of a Santa Clara County courtroom can help give you a more realistic overview of the penalties you are facing based on your situation.