Misdemeanor or Felony in Georgia – What’s the difference?

Understanding the basic difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony is not enough for you to represent yourself in court before a judge. For a more comprehensive breakdown look no further than this article.
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In the State of Georgia the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony can be described simply. Being charged with a less serious crime versus being charged with one that is more serious. A misdemeanor being the minor offense and a felony being the more serious offense.

What is a Felony?

A felony in Georgia is as a crime that carries a sentence guideline of more than 12 months. Georgia does not have degrees of felonies but rather follows suit with a small number of states which do not categorize crimes by class, degree or level.  Most felonies carry a punishment range of 1 to 20 years in prison. The most egregious crimes, capital crimes, carry a life sentence and can even carry the death penalty. A felony sentence is served in the state prison system. 

What is a Misdemeanor?

Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, and they carry a maximum fine of $1000 (but this can vary) and a maximum of 12 months in jail. Misdemeanors are further broken down by the gravity and severity of the crime. Some are categorized as ‘High and Aggravated Misdemeanors.’ This type of misdemeanor carries heavier penalties as compared to a ‘simple’ misdemeanor, notably a fine of up to $5000. Other states, like South Carolina, have misdemeanors sorted by class and with heavier penalties and Michigan distinguishes some misdemeanors by potential jail time. Misdemeanor sentences are served in local or county jails not in a state penitentiary.

Which crimes are Misdemeanors or Felonies

Most crimes, whether Felonies or Misdemeanors fall under the following categories:

Crimes against a person:

  • The most common of these types of crimes fall under felonies
  • These crimes include Homicide, Kidnapping, aggravated Assault, and aggravated Battery
  • Certain types of Assault and Battery can be categorized as misdemeanor
  • All forms of arson are considered felonies
  • All forms of trespassing are considered misdemeanors 
  • Theft Crimes range in punishment based on the value of the loss (generally over $500 will be a felony) – see below for more of a breakdown

Sexual Crimes:

  • Crimes of this nature vary extensively based on prior convictions, value of goods stolen, and severity
  • Armed or unarmed robbery are both felonies, as is burglary
  • Some other forms of crimes involving theft can be categorized as either felonies or misdemeanors depending on the times convicted or value of goods stolen (generally $500 is the cutoff for felonies) 

Statute of Limitations for Misdemeanors and Felonies

Felonies have longer statutes of limitations because of their severity. Felonies committed against victims younger than 18 can generally carry time limits of 7 years. For felony crimes committed against adults the limits are 4 years. Misdemeanors generally carry limits of 2 years. 


Here at Arora Law, we have a number of attorneys experienced in covering a wide range of practice areas including criminal offenses. Learn more about our experience and processes here. Call Arora Law at (404) 609-4664 or contact us online today for your free initial consultation. We proudly assist Spanish-speaking clients (Se habla Español) or Hindi.



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