If you have been arrested for a crime in Connecticut, you will be charged with either a “felony” or “misdemeanor.” The difference in the two is the severity of the charge and therefore the potential punishment, including jail time and fines, that you may face. A felony in Connecticut is considered more severe than a misdemeanor. A criminal defense attorney will help you understand the difference under Connecticut law.
MISDEMEANOR ATTORNEYS IN CONNECTICUT
A crime can sometimes be considered either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the “degree” of the charge. The degree of the charge is determined by the facts of the case and what the police and prosecutor allege the defendant has done. For example, if you are accused of larceny in Vernon, Connecticut, then the Vernon police will determine which degree of larceny they think you should be charged with. Larceny has six different degrees, and the degree depends on the value of the allegedly stolen property. The difference is crucial. For example, larceny in the fourth degree is an A misdemeanor and is charged when the value of the property exceeds $1,000.00 but is less than $2,000.00. When the value of the property is over $2,000.00 then the charge is a D felony: Larceny in the Third Degree.
The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is important because in addition to the increased jail time and fines a felony can have many other collateral consequences. It is not uncommon for police departments to “overcharge” and attempt to charge a felony when only the misdemeanor applies. Your criminal defense attorney can help you determine what Connecticut statute applies to your case, if any.
CLASSES OF MISDEMEANORS
Misdemeanors in Connecticut are designated one of five “classes:” A, B, C, D, and “Unclassified.” The class A misdemeanor is considered the most serious, but it is less serious than any felony. The class D misdemeanor is considered the least serious. Class D misdemeanors carry the least amount of potential jail time and fines in Connecticut.
Like the crime of larceny, different degrees of the same crime will likely be assigned a different class of misdemeanor. For example, criminal trespass can be charged as a Class A, B, or C misdemeanor depending on the facts of the alleged trespass:
Sec. 53a-109. Criminal trespass in the third degree: Class C or class B misdemeanor. (a) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the third degree when, knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so: (1) Such person enters or remains in premises which are posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders or are fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders, or which belong to the state and are appurtenant to any state institution; or (2) such person enters or remains in any premises for the purpose of hunting, trapping or fishing; or (3) such person enters or remains on public land which is posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders or is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders.
(b) Criminal trespass in the third degree is a class C misdemeanor, except that any person found guilty under subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of this section shall be guilty of a class B misdemeanor and fined not less than five hundred nor more than one thousand dollars.
POSSIBLE PUNISHMENT FOR MISDEMEANORS IN CONNECTICUT
Each class of felony in Connecticut has a different maximum penalty, including fines and jail time:
CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS FOR ALL MISDEMEANORS
Oftentimes misdemeanors and felonies are charged together. For example, if an 18-year-old person accused of being in an altercation at a high school when minors are present, then that person may be charged with both Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, and potentially Threatening in the Second Degree, a Class D felony, if the threatening occurred at a school. In this case, the police and the State’s Attorney may attempt to negotiate a plea on the misdemeanor and drop the felony. When multiple classes of felonies and misdemeanors are charged it is important to get the advice of an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney to determine what the most hopeful outcome is.
CONNECTICUT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
If you have been charged with a crime in Connecticut, then contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys for a consultation. Call (860) 785-2099.