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There are various levels of crime and the punishments that are meted to the criminals who commit these diverse crimes differ. Many people have not been able to distinguish a felony and a misdemeanor. They tend to use the two words interchangeably. However, there is a varied difference between the two crimes. This paper will focus on the distinction between the two crimes giving illustrations and instances. The second part of the paper will focus on the status of the license of a health care professional should he or she be caught in criminal violation.
Felony and Misdemeanor: Distinction
A felony is a crime of high intensity or a grave crime that is highly punishable by imprisonment or even death in a case where the felony is very serious, like robbery with violence or murder. In olden laws, felonies were punished through forfeiture of property or death. In modern times, felonies receive a wide range of punishments, which include probation, imprisonment or execution (Gargarin, 1999). A misdemeanor is a criminal act that is less serious than a felony and the punishments meted on misdemeanants is less severe that those who involve themselves in felonies. In most cases, misdemeanors are punished with monetary fines or incarceration of not more than a year.
The main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the intensity of the crime committed and the harshness of the punishment meted on the wrongdoer. A felony results in the loss of the civil rights of the wrongdoer while a misdemeanor does not lead to the loss of these civil rights. However, a misdemeanor can lead to the loss of some privileges like public offices or employment, professional licenses all of which are referred to as collateral consequences of criminal charges. The loss may happen if the misdemeanor is related to the privilege in question. For example, a reckless taxi driver can lose his driving license while a drunken public officer can lose employment. However, if the taxi driver causes an accident that leads to death because of reckless driving, that is now a felony and it can lead to harsher punishments like incarceration (Michel, 1995).
Criminal violations by healthcare professionals
There exist the HIPAA rules that provide for criminal penalties that include incarceration for ten years for health care professionals who involve themselves in criminal violations. These healthcare professionals include physicians, nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists. One of the criminal violations that are on the rise is identity theft where the health care professionals illegally obtain the information about a patient so that this information can be used in a malicious way (Garner, 1997). The consequences of the above crime include sanctions for the health care professionals and even revoking of license for private health care providers.
The other criminal act in the healthcare field is false prescriptions of drugs. This is considered as a fraud and it is a misdemeanor that can lead to the suspension of a health official. The business license can be confiscated for a period of six months if the health provider is discovered to have been prescribing drugs wrongly. The other crime in the healthcare field especially in the private providers is the tax compliance and failing to be aware of the criminal liabilities under the HIPAA can lead to severe sanctions or even closure of the health facility. The other serious crime that a health provider can commit is the lack of insurance. Health practitioners especially in high-risk areas of health care like gynecology need to have insurance to ensure that the mistakes of the doctors are covered (Garner, 1997). This means that in case something goes wrong the patients can be compensated. If a health provider is found out that, he or she is operating without this kind of insurance, the laws states that he or she can be denied the right to practice for a period of a year, meaning that the operating license can be revoked for a period of one year.
Gagarin, M. (1999). Early Law. Berkeley: University of California Press
Garner, R.. (1997). Law and Society. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Michel, F. (1995). Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison. New York: Random House.