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Differences between a misdemeanor and a felony

Wisconsin has several different categories for crimes depending on their severity. In general, the state categorizes a crime as an infraction, a misdemeanor or a felony. An infraction usually includes crimes that are not particularly serious, like certain traffic violations. As long as the associated fine is paid, a person usually will not be sentenced to any jail time. For misdemeanors and felonies, however, the consequences can be more serious.

Unlike infractions, misdemeanors can result in up to a year of jail time. Other punishments for misdemeanors can often be flexible depending on the case. For example, prosecutors may have more room to negotiate plea bargains that include less severe punishments than if the person was facing a felony conviction.

Felonies are crimes that are considered to be far more serious than infractions or misdemeanors. Felonies often can include crimes such as murder, kidnapping or arson, among others. In addition to a prison sentence, there are a range of punishments a person could face. In general, more severe crimes have more severe punishments.

Those who are charged with felony crimes could if convicted face a lengthy prison sentence, supervised probation once they have finished serving their sentence and major fines. Further, depending on the particular crime, those who are convicted could have trouble obtaining gainful employment or loans that would allow them to go back to school. Dependent on the circumstances, a criminal defense attorney could look for weaknesses in the case that may result in the case being dismissed by the court.

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