Most people know a crime as an act punishable by law. What many people don’t know are the two specific types of crimes and the clear-cut difference between the two. Although they may vary from state to state and most especially from country to country, there is a definitive difference between the two in any criminal law system.

A felony is typically any crime punishable by more than a year in prison or in more serious crimes, punishable by death. It is safe to say that crimes that are punishable by a fine or less than a minimum of one year of incarceration are not considered felonies in nature. There are also times however when a crime is not labeled as a felony but the punishment or rather length of imprisonment speaks otherwise.

Additional criminal procedures are applied when it comes to a felony. When an accused person is not capable of hiring an attorney, a court-appointed lawyer is then provided. Some jurisdictions also require the presence of a grand jury to do the sentencing. A number of jurisdictions also automatically sentence a convicted felon with life imprisonment if it is found that he has already been charged with a felony twice prior of the current crime.

Aside from incarceration, a convicted felon is stripped of his right to vote or practice any licensed profession. A felon is also restricted from performing any jury duty.

All accounts of rape, murder, kidnapping, grand theft, racketeering and embezzlement are all considered felonies. Serious drug crimes, sexual abuse and assault causing bodily harm in the first degree are also considered felonies.

Misdemeanors are what you would call a less serious crime also with lesser punishments. They are usually punished by paying fines or serving jail time for a period less than a year. Misdemeanors of even lesser gravity may even be punishable by performing court mandated community service.

Misdemeanors don’t require a grand jury and are handled by lesser courts with only brief procedures. At times, the convicted may have to pay a fee in order to be given a trial. Unlike in a felony however, misdemeanor offenders aren’t given the privilege of court designated attorneys, even if they can’t pay for a lawyer of their own.

Although the consequences of a misdemeanor are less grave than that of a felony, misdemeanors done by an offender above the age of 18 go on their permanent record. So although they are not restricted from jury duty, voting or any specific profession, misdemeanors done on or after a person’s 18th birthday will appear on any background check and may affect the offender’s chances of getting a job or enrolling in a school.