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What is a felony in Georgia?

If you watch crime dramas on television, you’ve likely heard the show’s characters refer to certain crimes as misdemeanors or felonies. You may think that a felony is a designation for the most severe crimes, like murder, and would be generally correct. Georgia law defines a felony as a crime that is punishable by one year more in prison.

In addition to murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault were four of the most commonly reported violent crimes in 2017. Aggravated assault reports were more than twice as common as any other violent crime that year. What distinguishes aggravated assault from simple assault, a misdemeanor, is the presence of a weapon and the intent to kill, rob, or rape someone.

A crime does not need to be violent to be a felony, however. Law enforcement often charges property crimes like arson and theft as felonies. However, much like assault, the details matter in each case. A petty theft case where someone steals $200 or less of property will likely face misdemeanor charges instead of felony charges. Felony theft typically occurs when stolen property has higher value, when the person has intent to harm another and more.

The difference between felonies and misdemeanors is important

Sometimes the best answer to what is a felony and what is a misdemeanor is that it depends on the details of the crime. It’s never good to have either type of charge on your record, but the difference between the two is important. Felonious charges carry steeper penalties than misdemeanors and law enforcement reserves these charges for the most vicious and malicious crimes.

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