How Serious Is A Misdemeanor?

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Misdemeanors are serious. Even though they do not carry the same weight of punishments as a felony they can still end with a person serving jail time and incurring substantial fines. In addition, if you are a Georgia high school or college student, a misdemeanor conviction could negate your ability to qualify for the HOPE scholarship. 

Misdemeanors stay on a criminal record, meaning that there might be an impact to you when you apply for future loans, housing, education, and jobs. Misdemeanors can be punishable in Georgia by up to a year in jail. 

Facing misdemeanor charges by yourself is not something we recommend. You should always contact a criminal defense attorney with experience when facing criminal charges. Without the proper guidance, you could be diminishing your chances at a fair outcome. Contact us today to set up a consultation by clicking the button below. 

What is a Misdemeanor?

Misdemeanor charges are those that are considered less egregious than a felony. Georgia does not assign an extensive classification to its crimes like in other states. In Georgia, there are simply misdemeanors and felonies. One thing to note is that Georgia does label certain crimes as being of a “High and Aggravated Nature” (HAGN). This classification doesn’t change the maximum punishment for a misdemeanor, which is 12 months in jail.

Misdemeanors are not served in state or federal prisons but in county or local jurisdiction jails. 

Some common misdemeanors in Georgia might be:

  • Resisting Arrest
  • Assault, Battery
  • DUI (like a first-time DUI)
  • Reckless Conduct
  • Theft (like shoplifting)

It’s important to understand that even though the crimes mentioned above might be misdemeanors they can also be considered felonies (based on the dollar amount involved or some other factors). We call these types of crimes, wobblers. A wobbler is a crime that can be punished either as a felony or misdemeanor. Check out this previous blog to learn more. 

Misdemeanor vs Felony in Georgia

So, what’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in Georgia? This is one of those questions that can be explained in a simple way or a very complicated way. In Georgia, misdemeanors are those crimes for which you can be sentenced to a maximum prison term of 12 months. Felonies are any crime that carries with it a sentence of over 1 year. Misdemeanors are sentenced in months, felonies are sentenced in years. So, a felony can mean a life term or a term of just over a year. Fines for felonies are also much higher. Depending on the crime you can be facing fines of over $5,000 going up to millions of dollars for drug crimes or charges related to white-collar crime.


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