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The Differences between Felonies and Misdemeanors

An Interview with St. Louis Criminal Defense Attorney, Kevin J. Roach

The following is an interview with St. Louis criminal defense attorney Kevin Roach, regarding the differences between felonies and misdemeanors.

Interviewer: You defend both felonies and misdemeanors as a St. Louis criminal defense attorney. What are the differences between felonies and misdemeanors? What separates the two?

The Penalty for a Class A Felony in Missouri is Either Life Imprisonment or Death

Kevin Roach: There is a big difference between a misdemeanor and a felony obviously. Just to give you an idea. Starting, I guess, from the top down. In Missouri the worst, most serious felonies are Class A felonies. You could get life imprisonment or death for a Class A felony. That would be charges like murder or first-degree robbery. The next class down would be a Class B felony. The penalty for a Class B felony is five to fifteen years. An example of a Class B felony would be an involuntary manslaughter, second robbery, possession of drugs with intent to distribute or manufacture. I see those on a regular basis. Those are Class B felonies. Down from that would be a Class C felony. The range of punishment on a Class C felony is up to seven years. An example of Class C felony would be stealing over five hundred. You see those a lot with stealing cases. Anything over five hundred dollars is a Class C felony as long as the value is not over twenty-five thousand. If it is over twenty-five thousand it gets elevated to a Class B. Down from there is a Class D felony. Missouri Class D felony is the lowest form of felony. You can get up to four years on a Class D felony. Up to a five thousand dollar fine. Some examples of Class D felonies I see on a regular basis are passing bad checks, fraud, you will see felony DWIs. If it is a third offense in Missouri it is filed as a Class D felony. That is probably the most common Class D felony is a third offensive DWI. Those are all the felonies. Down from the felony would be misdemeanors.

The Penalty for a Class A Misdemeanor is Up to a Year in Jail or a $1000 Fine

Class A misdemeanor, we talked about this earlier. Those would be offensives like stealing under five hundred dollars, assaults like domestic assaults. Those would be a Class A misdemeanor. Possession of marijuana under 35 grams. That is a Class A misdemeanor. The range of punishment on a Class A misdemeanor is up to a year in jail or a thousand dollar fine. The last one, there is really, there is also Class B felony. We see these a lot. You can do up to six months in jail on a Class B misdemeanor. The most common Class B misdemeanor that is see is first offensive and second offense DWIs. Those are always charged as Class B misdemeanors. The last form of misdemeanor is a Class C felony. You very rarely see Class C felonies but they do exist in Missouri. You can do up to fifteen days in jail or a three hundred fine on a Class C misdemeanor. An example of that would be an excessive blood alcohol content. A BAC. That is it. I think that is the best way to explain the differences. It just comes down to the punishment. There is a big difference, obviously, between the potential punishment of the felonies as opposed to the misdemeanors.

People Sometimes Don’t Realize That the Offense Committed Is a Felony And Entails Serious Consequences

Interviewer: Are there any sort of common examples of when someone doesn't know what a felony is. Is there a specific kind of thing that people do when they are really aware that it had that much weight?

Kevin Roach: Yeah, a lot of times. Probably a felony that people don't realize is a felony is a third offensive DWI. That is a big one. Stealing over five hundred could be. Five hundred is not a large amount. If you steal something and it is over five hundred it is automatically a felony. Between five hundred and twenty-five thousand, that is a big range. Most people would realize that stealing twenty-five grand is a felony but five hundred dollars most people wouldn't realize that I don't think. Those are two examples that I can think of.

Timeframe of Resolution for a Criminal Case in Missouri

Interviewer: You've handled a lot of cases as a St. Louis criminal defense attorney. How long do criminal cases take to resolve?

St. Louis Criminal Defense Attorney

Kevin Roach: It really depends. Obviously, a misdemeanor case is probably going to wrap up a lot quicker than a felony case that goes to trial. It really depends. You have to take it on a case by case basis. I would say most cases, misdemeanor cases that I see; they are usually resolved within a few months. The felonies they take quite a bit longer.

Weak Charges Can Often Be Amended Down or Dismissed Altogether

Interviewer: How often are you able to get cases dismissed or the charges reduced?

Kevin Roach: It really depends on what kind of case you are dealing with. I see, sometimes, really weak charges that can be amended down but really you have to take it on a case by case basis. I really don't know when someone comes into my office and I meet with them I am not able to really size up the case until I get a copy of the police report and get all discovery from the prosecuting attorney's office. Cases do get dismissed. How often it happens, it is really hard to say. I don't keep track of percentages or anything but it happens on, generally, it just happens on the weaker cases that come into my office. If there is not sufficient evidence you break it down and you are able to get the charges dismissed sometimes.

Contact a St. Louis Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Kevin J. Roach is a St. Louis criminal defense attorney and DWI defense attorney who has defended thousands of DWI and DUI cases in the St. Louis Metro area. Call us today at (636) 519-0085 or (866) 519-0085 for your Free Consultation!

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