In simple terms, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the potential punishment. Misdemeanors generally carry a maximum penalty of up to one year in the county jail. A felony is defined as a crime with a punishment commencing with one year in state prison. Many crimes are known as “wobblers,” meaning that they can be filed as either misdemeanors or felonies. A good criminal defense lawyer can often make the difference in getting a felony reduced to a misdemeanor.