The biggest difference is that a felony charge carries a higher potential jail term. Just as important though, are the “collateral consequences” of a felony conviction. For example, a felony conviction would affect one’s eligibility to vote, government benefits, and eligibility for certain types of jobs. In addition, having a felony on one’s record will result in harsher mandatory sentences on future criminal charges. However, a misdemeanor conviction also gives one a criminal record, and therefore must be avoided whenever possible.