One of the first questions that often arises in a criminal case is “how serious are the charges against me or my loved one?”  All criminal cases can have long lasting impacts, and none should be thought of as not being serious, but Georgia law breaks criminal offenses in to two categories: misdemeanors and felonies.
For adults (those age 17 and older), a misdemeanor can typically result in being jailed for up to 12 months and fined up to $1,000, plus surcharges, or up to $5,000, plus surcharges, in more serious cases.  That maximum is for each misdemeanor.  Multiple misdemeanors could result in back to back 12 month sentences.
A felony is any charge that can result in being sent to prison for a year or longer, or even receiving the death penalty.  The maximum sentences and the maximum fines in those cases are set by law, depending on the offense.
For adults, a conviction of either a misdemeanor or felony will be on your criminal history forever.  There may be options to seek restriction of this information in very limited circumstance, but the permanent impact on a person’s reputation through a criminal history should never be considered minor, no matter what the charge.