If you are being charged with a federal crime, it is important to understand not only how serious the situation is, but also the terminology that surrounds the process. Being charged with a federal crime holds you to different statutes the a state crime, even though most of the time federal and state law are relatively similar on most matters. According to FindLaw, there are three classes of misdemeanors and five classes of felonies for federal offenses.

A misdemeanor is less serious than a felony. According to federal law, the jail sentence for a misdemeanor may be no more than one year. There are also three different classes of misdemeanors: A, B, and C. A class misdemeanors are the most serious, with a jail sentence of up to one year, but less than six months. A B class misdemeanor has a jail sentence of no more than six months but more than thirty days. The class C misdemeanor may land you in jail for no more than thirty days, but more than five days.

Felonies are the crimes that come with the long-time jail sentences, and they are federally broken down into classes A through E. Class A felonies are punishable by life in prison or the death penalty. Class B felonies have a sentence of at least 25 years, up to life. Class C felonies have sentences of less than 25 years but more than 10 years. For a class D felony, you are looking at a sentence of less than 10 years but more than five. Finally, a class E felony will put you in prison for more than one year but less than five.