Criminal charges, categorized as either misdemeanors or felonies, carry varying degrees of severity.
Generally speaking, misdemeanors are less serious offenses that carry lighter penalties if convicted, while felonies often involve more severe consequences, whether that be higher fines, a longer probationary period, or even jail time.
While misdemeanors and felony charges are considered entirely different offenses. there are scenarios where certain factors can elevate a misdemeanor charge to that of a felony, adding even greater stakes the case at hand. The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony charge can have a significant impact on a person’s legal standing, especially if convicted, and in today’s blog we’ll cover four factors that can escalate a misdemeanor into a felony.
1. Nature of the offense
For starters, the type of offense committed plays a key role in determining whether a charge will escalate. Certain misdemeanors, namely those involving a high degree of physical violence or risk of significant harm, may turn into felonies.
For example, a simple assault, typically a misdemeanor, may become a felony if the act results in significant harm to the victim or involves the use of a weapon.
2. Repeat offenses
Committing the same offense multiple times, or having a history of criminal activity in general, can lead to an escalation in the severity of the charge. A person with a history of misdemeanor convictions may find themselves facing felony charges for subsequent violations.
3. Monetary value involved
Financial considerations (AKA the financial “cost” of the crime committed) can also contribute to the escalation of charges. In cases where a misdemeanor offense involves theft or property damage, the value of the stolen or damaged items may determine whether the charge becomes a felony. Higher monetary amounts often result in more severe consequences, since the damage to the victim, while financial, is more severe in its own right.
4. Aggravating circumstances
Certain circumstances surrounding an offense can elevate its severity, leading to an escalation in charges. These factors, often known as “aggravating circumstances,” may include the presence of minors, use of extreme force, or the commission of a crime in a restricted area (such that it would be considered trespassing).
Facing a criminal charge? Don’t waste any more time, and speak to an attorney right away.
In 2022, Maryland law enforcement made 90,261 arrests. While not all of these arrests led to convictions, the unique circumstances of each individual case could lead to more serious charges for those involved.
The criminal justice system is full of technicalities and complicated procedures that can easily make it confusing to navigate for the inexperienced. With that in mind, if you or a loved one are facing a criminal charge of any kind, your best first step is to speak with a criminal defense attorney. With the proper legal knowledge and expertise, they can not only help you navigate your case, but fiercely defend you in and out of the courtroom.
That’s where we come in. At JC Law, we’ve been handling criminal defense cases at the state and federal levels for over 30 years, and our unique team of diligent, qualified attorneys is prepared to fight for you and your best interests no matter what.
To speak with a JC Law attorney in a free, one-on-one phone consultation, give us a call at (888) JCLAW-10. Or, if you’d prefer to schedule your consultation at your convenience, you can use the button below to visit our scheduling page and reserve your free phone, video, or in-person consultation.
Remember; at JC Law, we aren’t just your attorney. We’re your legal ally.