What are the differences between misdemeanors and felonies?
Generally speaking, crimes that are classified as misdemeanors are less serious. As such, misdemeanors are handled at the municipal court level. Municipal courts are smaller courts located in local cities, such as Parma, Berea, Bedford, Garfield Heights, etc... If you are charged only with a misdemeanor, your criminal case will not usually leave the municipal court.
Felonies, however, may originate at the municipal court level, but will be “bound over” or sent to the common pleas court of that county (Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Lorain County Court of Common Pleas, Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Summit County Court of Common Pleas etc…).
More importantly, however, the key difference between misdemeanors and felonies is the punishment that can be imposed. If you are charged with a misdemeanor you cannot be sentenced to more than six months in jail on that offense. If convicted of a felony, you could serve a prison sentence.
In addition, if you are charged with a felony you are entitled to more procedural protections than if you are charged with a misdemeanor (preliminary hearing, indictment by a grand jury).