The legal system categorizes crimes into two main classes: misdemeanors and felonies.
Misdemeanors are less severe offenses, generally resulting in lesser penalties. However, there are instances where a misdemeanor charge can escalate into a felony, significantly altering the consequences a defendant may face.
1. Repeat offenses
One common path from misdemeanor to felony charges is through repeat offenses. If an individual commits the same misdemeanor crime multiple times, the legal system takes a stricter stance. Subsequent convictions for the same offense can lead to felony charges. For example, a simple shoplifting incident, if repeated, may escalate to a felony charge of retail fraud.
2. Serious bodily harm
Another common way for a misdemeanor to turn into a felony in Michigan is when the misdemeanor results in serious bodily harm to another person. A simple altercation that escalates and results in significant injuries can lead to an assault or battery charge upgrading to a felony.
3. Drug offenses
The sale, possession or manufacturing of illegal substances contributes to the arrest of 1.16 million Americans every year. Misdemeanor drug possession charges can turn into felonies under certain conditions. Possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute or manufacture, especially in larger quantities, can result in felony charges. The presence of other factors, such as proximity to a school or possession of a firearm during the drug offense, can further elevate the charge.
The transition from a misdemeanor to a felony charge can have significant implications for an individual’s life. Felonies often result in more severe penalties, including longer prison sentences, fines and a lasting criminal record that can impact employment prospects and housing opportunities.