Infractions, Misdemeanors And Felonies- What’s The Difference in criminal law?

Not all illicit criminal law activities fall under the same classification. Depending on what the activity is, there may be different penalties associated with it. Chances are, we all know this already. What may be a bit of a mystery to some is to what kind of activity falls under each of these classifications, and exactly what those penalties may be. Listed below is a general breakdown of each classification. While these are basic guidelines, the nature of each offense can greatly alter the course of how the offense is handled.

Juvenile offenses: These are offenses committed by minors and can include delinquency, vandalism, petty theft etc. Because of the young age of the offenders, these crimes are handles differently than crimes perpetrated by adults. In many cases, the hope is to rehabilitate the young offender, rather than punish them. 

Infractions: Infractions are the most minor of all offenses. Most infractions do not result in any jail time, but rather are affixed with a fine. The most common kind of infraction involves traffic violations, such as speeding tickets. Infractions are also called violations. In the case of infractions, the court is not required to appoint an attorney, but you can still hire one if you wish. Depending on the state you live, sometimes an infraction is a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense[1].

Criminal in handcuffs - Idaho Falls Criminal AttorneyMisdemeanors: Misdemeanors are more serious in nature, but still considered a “lesser” crime. While misdemeanors are more severe in nature, most do not exceed more than 12 months jail time. These types of crimes are usually served in the county or local jail. Often, in lieu of jail time, misdemeanors are served with fines and community service[2]. When it comes to the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, the degree of the crime matters, as the same crime can be committed and constitute either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on severity. An example of this would be theft. The value of what is stolen will determine what the charges will be[3].

Felonies: Felonies are the most serious of crimes, punishable by 12 months or more in prison. Offenses that are violent in nature, as well as large scale crimes will constitute felonies. Offenses include: rape, homicide, arson and robbery among others. Felonies hold the strictest punishments, including loss of rights, depending on the nature and severity of the offense[4]. How offenses are classified can vary depending on the state in which the offense occurs, and information given here is general in nature.

Understanding some of the classifications of offenses may shed some light on why certain crimes are handled the way they are. If you are involved in an offense and are not sure of your rights, contacting your Idaho Falls attorney can be one of the most beneficial steps you can take in making sure that you get the representation you need.