Felony vs. Misdemeanor Charges

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

The biggest difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the potential punishment associated with each one. For a misdemeanor, you cannot serve more than one year, and you cannot be sent to prison, only jail. For a felony, you can serve more than a year, and the judge can sentence you to serve time in prison or jail.

The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is also seen outside of the criminal court process. For example, some employers will specifically ask you if you have been convicted of a felony (they may ask you about misdemeanors as well). Convicted felons can be prohibited from owning weapons, receiving government aid, and living certain places. Also, it is more difficult and will take more time to get an expungement for a felony.

Utah Criminal Classifications

The Utah State Legislature determines what actions are considered criminal and whether a crime is a misdemeanor or a felony under State law. The Legislature also determines how serious a crime is. Below is a list of criminal classifications and examples of each class:

Utah Criminal Classification


1st Degree FelonyHomicide
Child Sex Abuse
2nd Degree FelonyAggravated Assault (with serious injury)
Burglary in a Home
Possession with Intent to Distribute
Sexual Assault
Theft or Fraud (over $5,000)
3rd Degree FelonyAggravated Assault (without serious injury)
Child Abuse (with serious injury)
Theft or Fraud (between $1,500 and $5,000)
Class A MisdemeanorAssault (with serious injury)
Child Abuse (without serious injury)
Negligent Homicide
Theft (between $500 and $1,500)
Violation of a Protective Order
Class B MisdemeanorAssault (without serious injury)
Domestic Violence Assault
Domestic Violence in the Presence of a Child
Driving Without Insurance
Possession of Marijuana
Reckless Driving
Class C MisdemeanorDisorderly Conduct
Driving on a Suspended License
Public Intoxication
Traffic Violations
InfractionFailure to Update Address on Driver’s License
Violations of some City Ordinances (Dog Barking, Excessive Weeds, Accumulation of Junk, etc.)

Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Contact

If you have questions about a criminal case or would like a free consultation from a Criminal Defense Attorney, please contact us today. Our attorneys have handled nearly every type of criminal case, from Domestic Violence and DUI to Fraud and Homicide. Our criminal attorneys include a former prosecutor for Salt Lake County and the cities of Taylorsville, Holladay, Cottonwood Heights, and Riverton, Utah. For a free consultation or to hire an attorney immediately, call 801-990-4200 or fill out our attorney contact form.

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