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What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Crimes are categorized as either a felony or a misdemeanor based on the severity and the nature of the crime. A felony is the most serious of crimes and is typically punishable by imprisonment for more than one year — or potentially death. Lower-level felonies can carry a sentence of just six months. Misdemeanors are less severe crimes that are typically punished by a fine or a sentence of six months or less. Traffic and parking infractions are often called violations and are also considered a part of criminal law.