Misdemeanors vs Felonies in Georgia

There are two main types of crimes in Georgia: misdemeanors and felonies. Although a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, a conviction can still lead to harsh criminal penalties, including jail time. The following blog post is an overview of misdemeanor and felony classes in Georgia. 


In Georgia, a misdemeanor carries a maximum county jail sentence of one year. However, judges can either suspend a misdemeanor sentence or impose probation in lieu of spending time behind bars. 

A misdemeanor conviction is generally punishable by the following: 

  • A jail term of up to 12 months 

  • Probation for up to 12 months 

  • A maximum fine of $1,000 

However, if certain aggravating factors exist, a misdemeanor offense can be upgraded to a “misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.” Common examples include a third DUI offense or simple assault when the victim is a family member, a pregnant person, or an elderly person. 

A high and aggravated misdemeanor is punishable by a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a maximum fine of $5,000. Again, judges can either suspend a sentence or place a defendant on probation. 


Felonies in Georgia carry a minimum state prison sentence of one year, rather than a county or local jail term of one year or less like misdemeanors. Unlike many states, Georgia does not designate felonies by class. Rather, sentences for felonies are assigned on a case-by-case basis. 

For example, murder is the only offense that is punishable by the death penalty. Rape, armed robbery, kidnapping, and other serious sex crimes and violent crimes carry a minimum prison term of 10 or 25 years with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment (with or without the possibility of parole). Less serious felonies carry shorter sentences. 

A felony conviction can also result in fines worth thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. The exact amount depends on the criminal offense. 

Lastly, having a felony conviction on your record can lead to being banned from working in certain career fields and banned from owning and possessing a firearm. 

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Gwinnett County, contact Daniels & Taylor, P.C. today at (770) 285-1673 to schedule a free office consultation. Serving Lawrenceville and the surrounding area! 

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