If you face criminal charges in Georgia, it is important to understand whether your alleged offense is a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor offenses in Georgia carry up to 12 months in jail and fines of up to $1,000, while felony offenses carry longer sentences and fines that may exceed tens of thousands of dollars.
Learn more about how Georgia categorizes different types of criminal offenses. Unlike most states, Georgia does not designate classes within these categories and instead assigns penalties on a case-by-case basis.
You likely have a misdemeanor offense if your charge alleges a violation of local rather than state law. Georgia is one of the few states in which any misdemeanor charge can result in jail time. However, most misdemeanor charges can qualify for probation and suspended sentences. Examples of misdemeanor crimes in Georgia include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Other penalties for misdemeanor offenses may include loss of the right to own weapons, loss of driving privileges, loss of eligibility for federal student aid and community service.
High and aggravated misdemeanor
Depending on the crime, Georgia may categorize subsequent misdemeanor offenses as high and aggravated misdemeanors. In addition, you could receive these charges for a first offense involving flight from the police. This category can result in elevated fines of up to $5,000 in addition to up to 12 months of jail time.
Most felony charges involve violence against another person. However, you may also receive felony charges in Georgia for robbery, arson, drug possession and repeat DUI charges. Unlike misdemeanor charges, which may involve a local jail sentence, felony convictions result in time in the state penitentiary. In addition, most felony convictions do not qualify for probation.
Georgia considers some offenses “wobblers,” which means the court can pursue either misdemeanor or felony charges. If you face a felony that carries fewer than 10 years in prison, you could qualify for a downgrade to misdemeanor charges.