The biggest difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the punishment each one carries. A misdemeanor charge has potential punishment of a fine or being locked up in the County Jail for up to six months or a year (depending on the charge). A felony is punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary (State Prison), as well as fines. Depending on the charge, that may range from sixteen months to the rest of your life.
Even conviction for a “simple” felony can have life-long consequences, such as affecting your ability to vote, possess a firearm or hold certain jobs. Others may require lifetime registration in a governmental database with punishment for failing to keep up registration requirements.