Differences between Felonies and Misdemeanors

Being convicted of a felony can have far more serious consequences than being convicted of a misdemeanor. However, both felonies and misdemeanors are serious charges that must not be taken lightly. Any criminal conviction results in a criminal record that can have repercussions in your life in many areas and for many years to come.

Contact a criminal defense lawyer if you are facing any type of felony or misdemeanor charge.

Classification of crimes in Tennessee

Chapter 39 of the Tennessee Code Annotated delineates the different types of crimes in Tennessee. Tennessee has felonies, misdemeanors, and capital crimes. Capital crimes are punishable by death or life imprisonment and include murder, arson, rape, and kidnapping.


Felony crimes and their maximum terms and fines are categorized as follows:

  • Class A felonies: Not more than 60 years in prison and up to $50,000 fine
  • Class B felonies: Not more than 30 years in prison and up to $25,000 fine
  • Class C felonies: Not more than 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fine
  • Class D felonies: Not more than 12 years in prison and up to $5,000 fine
  • Class E felonies: Not more than six years in prison and up to $3,000 fine

Felonies are tried by a judge or a jury.


A Tennessee misdemeanor carries the following maximum terms and fines:

  • Class A misdemeanors: Not more than 11 months, 29 days in prison and up to $2,500 fine
  • Class B misdemeanors: Not more than six months in jail and up to $500 fine
  • Class C misdemeanors: Not more than 30 days in jail and up to $50 fine

Misdemeanors can include simple possession, assault, shoplifting/theft under $500, vandalism, and trespassing.

Understanding the system is extremely confusing and is best done with the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney. When the proof is overwhelming, a good criminal defense attorney in Jackson often attempts to enter into a plea bargain arrangement with the prosecution to allow an accused to plead to a misdemeanor rather than a felony which carries more serious consequences.

Our felony and misdemeanor lawyers in Tennessee know how to provide the type of defense you need

Byrd & Byrd, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, are available for all types of criminal defense, including felony defense, homicide and death penalty cases, and misdemeanor charges. Contact the firm online today or call (731) 424-7188, toll free at (888) 793-3328 to speak to an attorney about the representation that you need.

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