Thomas Ryan Rumfelt, PLLC

Thomas Ryan Rumfelt, PLLC
Offering Comprehensive Legal Services to Tennessee Residents

Differences between misdemeanors and felonies

Many people end up going to Tennessee jails and prisons every year to the point where many are at capacity or close to it. For example, the Bradley County Jail in 2016 had only 400 beds but over 500 inmates.

Anyone looking to avoid jail time needs to build a good defense, and the best defense will depend on the charges placed against the individual. The lawyer will look at whether the charges are misdemeanors or felonies. There are many differences between these two other than the fact misdemeanors are for lesser crimes than felonies. 

Location of sentence

in the event a person receives a misdemeanor conviction, he or she will carry out the sentence in a county or local jail rather than a prison. Felony convictions require the person to go to a federal or state correctional facility 


For misdemeanors, a conviction can lead to jail time up to only one year. In many cases, the person will also need to pay a fine. Felonies often carry much higher fines as well as jail time that can range anywhere from one year to life. 


The trial itself can be vastly different depending on the charges. Many misdemeanor charges do not end up going to trial at all. The defendant may not even receive a court-appointed lawyer and may never see a jury. However, felonies will always require a trial in the event the person decides not to accept a plea deal upfront. People charged with felonies have other constitutional rights, such as the right to a fair and speedy trial. 

After jail

In the event of a misdemeanor conviction, the person may go to jail for up to one year, but once he or she is free, most job opportunities will be available. However, felony convictions can have a devastating impact on the jobs and housing a person can acquire. 

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