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What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony in OK? (And Why It Matters)

If you can get through your whole life without having to understand the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, then that will mean you have avoided trouble, but if you are facing the prospect of either a misdemeanor or felony charge, then understanding the difference is key to how you move forward. Police, investigators, and prosecutors have leeway in building and prosecuting cases as either a misdemeanor or felony charge based on the same conduct, and the differences are profound for you as the defendant both now and for many years into your future. Thus, having an experienced criminal defense attorney who can successfully work your charges down from a felony to a misdemeanor (or to no crime at all) is often crucial to restoring your future.

Misdemeanors and Felonies in Oklahoma

While every jurisdiction has both misdemeanors and felonies, Oklahoma state law provides specific definitions for the two types of crimes. A felony is defined as “a crime which is, or may be, punishable with death, or by imprisonment in the penitentiary.” A misdemeanor is then defined as every other crime that is not a felony.

In a misdemeanor crime, a defendant faces up to one year in a county jail, although some misdemeanors may carry shorter sentences as well as criminal fines.

A felony crime means a defendant can be instead sent to the state penitentiary, and felony sentences are generally for multiple years. Separate felony crimes usually have their own specific sentences, but if a sentence is not included in the law, a person can be sentenced to up to two years in the penitentiary. Under state law, felons are required to serve at least 85% of their sentences.

The Additional Costs of a Felony

In addition to the longer prison sentences, those convicted of felonies often suffer consequences that go far beyond their prison terms. A felony conviction on your criminal record can make it very difficult to work in a profession later on or pass a background check, whereas a misdemeanor conviction carries less negative consequences for you. Also, felons are stripped of certain rights such as voting and gun ownership rights.

Work With an Attorney to Reduce Your Felony to a Misdemeanor

In many types of cases, prosecutors can choose to bring a felony or a misdemeanor charge based on the same conduct, for example by choosing to bring an aggravated assault felony charge rather than a misdemeanor felony charge over an altercation. By investing in an experienced criminal defense attorney who can pursue legal strategies in your defense to work a felony charge down to a misdemeanor charge, you can minimize your potential consequences and preserve your life opportunities going forward.

Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian worked as an Oklahoma district attorney, so he has the experience of working on the other side and understands how to best fight your case and work towards a dismissal of charges, not guilty verdict, or favorable agreement with reduction of penalties and charges in your Oklahoma criminal investigation or prosecution. Contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405.294.4448 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.