Understanding the Law: Misdemeanors, Felonies, and Probation

For a lot of people, their understanding of the law comes from television or maybe from books. They see crimes committed and hear the words misdemeanor, felony, and probation, and assume that they can figure out what it means to them from that context. However, there is definitely more information to absorb to capture a full understanding.

So, if you want to know how the law works, look at the more technical aspects of misdemeanors, felonies, and how probation works. And then beyond that, consider that as laws change in a country, the relationship to these words will change as well. Even on a state-to-state or community-to-community level, sometimes rules will change and affect the consequences of criminality.

Misdemeanors

To begin with, you should understand the precise meaning of misdemeanor. Misdemeanors carry a maximum of 12 months of jail time. So although you should note the degree of offense when thinking about crimes, you also need to look at it from a perspective of the length of punishment should you be convicted. You’ll hear lots about various styles of plea bargain that go into turning a felony crime into a misdemeanor version. Talking to lawyers is very helpful when you begin making these kinds of distinctions.

Felonies

Felonies are the ones that you don’t want on your permanent record. If you can’t figure out how to expunge a felony from your background history, many employers won’t even look at your resume. So in addition to the immediate consequences of getting convicted of a major crime, the long-term effects of having a felony on your record are even more severe. If you look at a list of crimes that end up in the felony category, you begin to note the seriousness of the situations.

Probation

After you have done a certain amount of time for a crime you’ve been convicted of, there is a probationary period. And, lots of people get in trouble immediately after this period starts because they don’t understand the rules of probation. There is a revolving door of certain types of jail time because people on probation don’t realize how many details go into the agreement of their release.

The Changing Law Structures in a Country

And finally, even though you may feel like you have a firm grasp on those three previous ideas, when the law changes in your country, state, or city, you’ll have to revisit your core belief system. A valid example of legislation changing would be concerning marijuana currently. States and the federal government are trying to figure out where marijuana is classified on the drug scheduling list, and if it makes a difference if it’s being used recreationally or medicinally. Being on the wrong side of those laws can lead to severe consequences.

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