Misdemeanor vs. Felony: What’s the Difference?

Criminal defense

Written by Elton Jenkins

Elton Jenkins is the founder of Elton Jenkins Law, P.L.L.C. which serves Oklahoma in both Criminal Defense and Family Law matters.

December 1, 2021

What is a Misdemeanor?

Misdemeanors generally carry less severe penalties than felonies. In Oklahoma, a misdemeanor is an offense that is punishable by no more than 1 year in county jail.

Examples of misdemeanors in Oklahoma include:

  • First time DUI
  • Battery
  • Simple assault
  • Shoplifting
  • Vandalism
  • Breaking and Entering
  • DWI, and APC
  • Drug Possession
  • Petty Larceny

What is a Felony?

Felonies can be much more serious. Oklahoma law states, “A felony is a crime which is, or may be, punishable with death, or by imprisonment in the penitentiary”. Typically, a felony in Oklahoma is one that is punishable by 1 year or more in state prison.

Examples of felonies include:

  • Homicide
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Child Abuse or Neglect
  • Child Sexual Abuse
  • Child Pornography
  • Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Drug Trafficking
  • DUI after a previous DUI conviction

Felonies generally have more severe consequences than misdemeanors, including the loss of certain civil rights. A person convicted of a felony will lose the right to use, own, or possess a firearm (can be true with some misdemeanors as well), the right to sit on a jury, and the right to vote (for a time). In addition, a convicted felon can face severe employment consequences. Many employers will not hire or allow a felon to continue in their employment. Likewise, they can be prohibited from holding a position that involves the handling of money or getting licensed in any type of profession. Housing options can also be limited by a felony record.

What’s an Enhanceable Misdemeanor

In addition, some crimes are considered “enhanceable”. That means that the second offense of a crime you’ve been convicted of in the past can be considered a felony. For instance, a person’s first conviction of a DUI in Oklahoma is usually a misdemeanor, but a second or subsequent conviction for DUI within a ten-year period may be classified as a Felony.

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