Nobody wants to be arrested and sent to jail, but sometimes, mistakes happen. However, in some cases, that mistake can turn a misdemeanor into a felony. If you would like to know more, check out these three common reasons a misdemeanor can become a felony.
1. The Defendant Is a Repeat Offender
Common misdemeanors include assault and battery, aggravated assault, domestic violence, shoplifting, and reckless driving. However, these can easily be bumped up to a felony if the defendant has prior convictions. This is especially problematic if the past convictions involved similar crimes or felonies because it shows the defendant is likely to commit the crime again.
If there were no past convictions or the past convictions were unrelated to the current crime, a misdemeanor can be bumped up to a felony if the defendant was particularly depraved or cruel, such as abusing the victim during the crime.
2. The Victim Was Vulnerable
While anyone can be the victim of a crime, some people are considered vulnerable because they may be easier to trick, rob, harm, etc. Common examples of vulnerable people include the elderly, kids, and people with mental or physical impairments.
However, anyone can be considered vulnerable if the defendant was in a position of authority. For example, a coach who abuses or assaults a player may be more likely to face felony charges. Even if the victim wasn't considered vulnerable, the coach had significantly more power. Similar to a work environment, the player may feel they could get cut from the team or lose out on scholarship and other opportunities if they try to stop the crime or speak out about it.
3. The Crime Was a Hate Crime
People commit crimes for many reasons. A thief wants stuff to sell or use for themselves, and an identity thief wants to steal someone's identity. In more violent cases, someone may want to hurt another because they wronged them. However, when the crime is driven by hatred for a specific group of people, it becomes a hate crime.
Common reasons people get targeted for a hate crime include the color of their skin, their religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, etc. If the courts determine the crime was a hate crime, it can be bumped up to a felony.
There are many reasons a misdemeanor can become a felony. Felonies come with harsher punishments, and they can affect your future. If you would like to know more, contact a criminal law attorney in your area today.