What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
These words take on diffferent meaning in various states and the federal system. In Virginia, Misdemeanors are generally defined as criminal charges that may carry no more than 12 months in jail for each count. Felonies are all criminal charges that might carry more than 12 months in jail or prison, although many felonies will result in probation and no actual prison time if the client is successful on probation.
Not all offenses will fit into these classifications. For example, a first offense Possession of Marijuana is an unclassified misdemeanor carrying up to 30 days jail plus a fine of $500 and suspension of driver's license for 6 months and probation.
Reckless Driving and many other Traffic violations are defined as Misdemeanors, even though they are charged under the Motor Vehicle Code, rather than the Crimes Code.
The Code of Virginia classifies felonies in Section 18.2 10 and misdemeanors in Section 18.2 11; those sections of the Code are contained in our Library.