In legal terms, crimes are divided into two main categories – felonies and misdemeanors. These two categories cover a large range of crimes from minor infractions to serious charges. Virginia, Washington DC and Maryland all have different definitions of what violations are considered felonies and what violations are considered misdemeanors. As a general rule, felonies are more serious crimes than misdemeanors and carry more severe penalties. The charges for felonies and misdemeanors can include fines, jail time, required counseling and probation, depending on the circumstance. To learn more about felony or misdemeanor charges in your area visit on of our pages on:

Virginia Felony Laws
Virginia Misdemeanor Laws
Maryland Felony Laws
Maryland Misdemeanor Laws

Being charged with a felony or misdemeanor can happen to anyone, but should always be taken seriously. Criminal law in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC are complicated and it is always better to consult with an experienced criminal attorney to make sure your rights are represented correctly so that you receive the best possible result for your case.


In most cases, misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail. Additional punishments may include fines, probation, counseling, restitution and community services. Depending on what state/area you are charged in, misdemeanors can be divided into different categories, depending on how severe the charge is. The term “gross misdemeanor” refers to a more serious misdemeanor.


The term “felony” is used to classify more serious offenses. Felony charges can involve physical harm, severe property damage, theft and even white collar crimes such as fraud. It is important to remember that misdemeanors can be elevated to felonies depending on the severity of the charge.

Punishment for felonies differ from state to state, but are always more severe than misdemeanor charges. Typically, felony offenses carry punishments ranging from jail time greater than one year, prison time, probation, parole, fines and counseling.

Repeat Offenses

For both felonies and misdemeanors, a repeat offense of the same charge will be met with more severe penalties than a first time offense depending on time between charges and severity of the offense.

Differences Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor

The primary difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the severity of the charge. Certain violations are considered more serious depending on what state you are charged in.

Felonies and misdemeanors can be committed against individuals, property and even the state itself. Felonies and misdemeanors can be as minor as a speeding ticket or even the most serious of charges. If found guilty, the penalties for a felony or misdemeanor also vary greatly in terms of severity. They can be one time fines, jail time or a combination of both.

We Are Ready to Defend You!

If you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor in Virginia, Maryland or Washington DC you need to consult with an experienced criminal attorney. An attorney can help you protect your rights and prevent abuse from the court. A criminal lawyer can sometimes also help mitigate your charge so that you receive a lesser charge from the original.

Have You Been Accused Of A Crime In Virginia Or Maryland?

If you have been accused of a crime you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virginia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your case consultation. 

Yuvora Nong
Helping VA, MD & Washington D.C. clients with all of their immigration law legal needs since 1997.