Being charged with a crime is not something any Louisiana resident aspires to. Although there is a marked difference between felonies and misdemeanors, neither is viewed in a positive light. Misdemeanors are crimes that do not rise to the level of a felony and are often considered “lower level” charges. Many criminal defendants would consider a misdemeanor a minor wrongdoing, although the penalties can still negatively impact one’s life. Those convicted of a misdemeanor may have to pay expensive fines or spend time in jail.
A felony, on the other hand, is an extremely serious criminal charge that may beget severe punishment. Felonies include but are not limited to rape, burglary, murder, arson and robbery. These types of crimes are generally considered more heinous than other criminal activity. Committing a felony can lead to substantial jail time, usually a year at the very least, depending on the nature of the crime and the facts and circumstances surrounding the crime. It is also important to note that the courts look at a first time offender and a multiple offender very differently. If you have been charged with and convicted of a felony, then there is a strong likelihood that you will be spending a number of years behind bars.
There are a number of procedures that the government has to abide by, however, prior to being able to charge someone with a felony. The initial arrest is just the first step in the criminal procedure process. The authorities can arrest you and charge you with a felony if they have probable cause for the arrest. Probable cause is akin to having a reasonable belief that is adequately supported. Based on probable cause, the police can make an arrest.
If you are arrested for a crime, it is important for the authorities to respect your constitutional rights. A Louisiana criminal defense attorney can ensure that your constitutional rights are protected.
Source: FindLaw, “Felonies,” accessed May 19, 2015