If you’ve been arrested, you might know only that you’ve been charged with committing some type of felony or misdemeanor. However, you might not be sure what that means to you. Sure, you know that a felony is worse than a misdemeanor, but what does that really mean in terms of consequences?

While we suggest seeking out a Fort Worth defense attorney to avoid criminal penalties, understanding the penalties regardless can make a difference for your case. Make sure you know what to expect from your case before you get started, plead guilty, or contact a lawyer.

Severity of Your Penalties

When you’re accused of a crime in Texas, knowing how serious the penalties are will be one of your first steps. It’s also one of the biggest differences between a felony and a misdemeanor. So, while you know that a misdemeanor typically comes with less harsh penalties, how much of a difference will it make?

Misdemeanors are usually capped at a one-year jail sentence and fines of up to $4,000. While those numbers are significant, they’re not as devastating as a felony. It’s still important to fight back, but your maximum penalties will not be higher than these.

However, a felony won’t be so simple. These penalties are much more serious. Indeed, your fines alone could be as high as $10,000. You could also face a life sentence or even execution for severe crimes. That means a felony charge could leave you facing penalties for the rest of your life, costing you major options in the future.

Effects on Expungement

Once you’ve been arrested or convicted of a crime, you then have your information in the system. That means your criminal records are available if a background check is performed. You’ll have a chance to expunge your record (but only under certain circumstances), which means that you’ll be able to remove those charges. However, the crime itself will dictate your options.

In many cases, you’ll be able to file a petition for expungement for a misdemeanor as long as you weren’t convicted of the crime. You might also have it expunged if you appealed your conviction and the charges were dropped.

That doesn’t always work for felony charges, however. In some cases, even if you weren’t convicted of the felony, you’ll have to wait until the statute of limitations, or time limit, for that case runs out. That means you could be left with a record for even longer, even if you were acquitted and the charges were dropped.

Both Types of Charges Hurt Your Future

When you’re facing a criminal charge, the type of charges can affect both your outcome and your options greatly. You’ll be facing penalties that can affect you for some time, and you might find yourself struggling to recover after a conviction. In fact, these convictions can haunt you for years after your case.

While it’s important to understand how these cases differ, it’s also important to fight back no matter what. Your conviction can impact you to different degrees, and different cases can be more difficult to recover from.

However, that doesn’t make it less important to protect yourself from a conviction. Make sure you understand the consequences of your case, and then fight back with your lawyer. Understanding the difference between the two charges can help you get started, and your attorney can help you handle your case.