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Missoula Misdemeanor And Felony Defense Lawyers: The Difference Between A Felony And A Misdemeanor

If you’ve been accused of a crime, no matter how serious, your whole life can feel like it’s spinning out of control. Our misdemeanor and felony defense lawyers at Tipp Coburn Lockwood, P.C., in Missoula, defend clients throughout Montana who’ve been accused of all levels of crimes from misdemeanors to felonies. Founded in 1959, our attorneys have decades of experience and are passionate about defending your rights and protecting your freedom.

What Are Montana Misdemeanor Crimes?

Misdemeanor crimes are considered less serious and their penalties reflect this. Most misdemeanor crimes come with a potential penalty of one year or less in jail. If the maximum sentence is less than one year in prison, the crime is considered a misdemeanor. Examples of misdemeanors and their sentences in Montana include:

  • Crimes against property, like trespassing, petty theft of property less than $1,500 in value or criminal mischief, all of which have a maximum sentence of six months or less in jail
  • First, second and third DUI offenses, with a maximum jail time of less than one year in prison depending on the charge
  • First offense possession of a controlled substance, like 60 grams or less of marijuana is punishable with a maximum sentence of 6 months or less in jail
  • Stalking or a first-time sexual assault charge which are both punishable by a sentence of one year or less in jail

The statute of limitations filing deadline for misdemeanor crimes is one year. Some misdemeanor crimes are eligible for expungement.

What Are Felony Crimes In Montana?

Felony crimes are more serious, and in the state of Montana is any crime that carries a maximum sentence of more than one year in prison. Felonies are classified at different levels, with a Class A felony being the most serious, carrying punishments that include the death penalty, life in prison and potential fines of $100,000. Some drug possession crimes increase to felonies based on the kind of drugs found and the amount.

When Misdemeanor Crimes Become Felonies: Montana’s Persistent Felony Offender Statute

Under Montana law, the prosecutor can seek a sentence enhancement by asking that the defendant be declared a persistent felony offender. Anyone who is adjudicated a felony offender will face harsher consequences, including stricter sentencing. For example, if you are convicted of a third violent or sexual felony, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail.

Schedule A Free Consultation With A Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Our criminal defense attorneys offer a free initial consultation. To schedule your free appointment, email us through our website or call our office at 406-389-4215 We look forward to telling you more about how we can help defend you against the charges you are facing.