When you hear that someone was charged with a misdemeanor, you know that they did something wrong. But the name implies that though their act was criminal in nature, it wasn't so bad that it deserved the full force of the criminal justice system. Compare this to when you hear that someone was charged with a felony. In this case, you know that they did something very, very serious and that the criminal justice system deemed their act deserved the full force of the system.
Misdemeanors and felonies are only differentiated in the severity of the crime committed -- and though that seem like a small difference, it is a very important one. The way the punishment and consequences scale between a crime being a misdemeanor and a crime being a felony is significant.
Misdemeanors can have jail time attached to them, but it usually isn't in excess of year. And, in many cases, misdemeanors don't yield jail time. Fines, penalties and probation are quite common.
Felonies, however, often have many years of jail time attached to them, with other severe penalties (both financial and legal) that can figuratively cripple a person for a significant portion of their life.
Whether you are accused of a misdemeanor or a felony, you need effective and experienced legal representation to defend yourself. The consequences of being convicted of either type of crime are too significant to ignore. Get a criminal defense attorney to help you in these unfortunate situations.
Source: FindLaw, "What Distinguishes a Misdemeanor From a Felony?," Accessed March 22, 2016