Infractions vs. Misdemeanor vs. Felony: What are the Differences- By Naphtal
When you are caught committing a crime, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the crime. In most cases, a felony is considered a much more serious offense than a misdemeanor and carries higher penalties and a longer jail sentence.
Typically, nonviolent crimes such as petty theft, vandalism, and public intoxication are considered misdemeanors, while more serious offenses like rape, murder, and armed robbery are usually felonies.
In countries such as the United States, it is upon individual states to determine what comprises a misdemeanor or felony crime. Many states classify these crimes in classes or some other means. Punishment is usually determined based on which class the crime committed falls under.
Punishment for a crime is usually determined based on which class the crime committed falls under. This post explores the key differences between misdemeanors and felonies. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
What Is an Infraction?
Generally, infractions are the least serious type of crime. They are also sometimes called summary offenses. Crimes that fall into this category include minor traffic violations, jaywalking, and public intoxication.
An infraction is typically punishable by a small fine rather than jail time. In some cases, you might be ordered to complete community service or attend anger management classes.
In the United States, an infraction is not considered a crime. This means you do not have the same constitutional rights as someone charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
For example, you cannot be tried by a jury for an infraction. You also do not have the right to an attorney.
What Are Misdemeanors?
Misdemeanors are generally nonviolent crimes. Most of them are considered less serious offenses than felonies. In most cases, they are punishable by a smaller fine or shorter jail sentence than a felony charge.
However, some misdemeanors can still result in heavy penalties. For example, a DUI is considered a misdemeanor in many states but can still lead to jail time, loss of driving privileges, and a permanent mark on your criminal record.
Misdemeanors are typically divided into different classes, with Class A being the most serious and carrying the heaviest penalties. Class B and C misdemeanors are considered less serious offenses.
Typically, a Class A misdemeanor attracts a jail term of one year or less but more than six months. A Class B misdemeanor, on the other hand, is punishable by a jail term of not more than six months and not less than 30 days. Class C misdemeanor attracts a jail term of not more than 30 days but not less than five days.
What Are Felonies?
Felonies, on the other hand, are considered much more serious crimes than misdemeanors. They usually involve violence or the threat of violence, resulting in longer jail sentences.
In the United States, felonies are typically divided into different classes, with Class A being the most serious. Class B and C felonies are considered less serious offenses.
Class D and E felonies are usually nonviolent crimes but can still result in significant jail time.
Class A felony may attract life imprisonment or the death penalty, while Class B and C felonies may result in a jail sentence of between ten and 30 years.
Class D and E felonies, on the other hand, are punishable by a jail term of not more than ten years.
Key Differences Between Misdemeanors and Felonies
Now that you know what misdemeanors and felonies are, let’s take a look at the key differences between them:
- Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies, while felonies are considered more serious offenses.
- Misdemeanors usually involve nonviolent crimes, while felonies often involve violence or the threat of violence.
- Misdemeanors are usually punishable by a smaller fine or shorter jail sentence than felonies.
- Felonies are typically divided into different classes, with Class A being the most serious, while misdemeanors are usually classified into different classes, with Class A being the most serious.
- In the United States, Class A felonies may attract life imprisonment or the death penalty, while Class A misdemeanors usually result in a jail sentence of one year or less.
However, both misdemeanors and felonies can result in a permanent criminal record. If you have been charged with either a misdemeanor or felony, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and defend your rights.
Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies are all crimes, but they are classified differently based on their severity. An infraction is the least serious crime, while a felony is the most serious.
Misdemeanors fall in between these two categories. Knowing the difference between these classifications is important because the consequences of committing each type of crime vary drastically.
If you have been charged with a crime, it’s important to speak with an attorney who can help you understand your rights and defenses.
Also read: What Are the Different Types of CrimeRead more
This article is written by Naphtal. He is the brand manager at Legal Giant and a highly experienced content writer. Legal Giant is a leading lawyer referral site with clients all over the U.S. When Naphtal is not working, he enjoys spending time with his son and exploring nature.
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