There are two broad categories of law. Namely, they are civil or criminal law. Civil laws are focused mainly on private disputes between individuals or corporations and are usually settled through fines and penalties.
On the other hand, criminal acts or more commonly just called “crime” is a more serious offense that is punishable by the state. Since crimes are usually grave offenses, penalties are severe like forfeiture of a convict’s right, imprisonment, and fines.
Criminal law is subdivided into 3 categories based on their severity.
1 – Infractions
These are petty offenses that are usually punishable by fines. In many states, this is not considered a criminal offense. Instead they are treated as civil offenses therefore not punishable by imprisonment. In rare cases where incarceration is used as a punishment, it’s only for a limited period of time at a local jail.
Common types of infraction are as follows:
- Violation of municipal code, ordinance, or administrative regulation
- Traffic violations including jaywalking
- Violation of state rules
- Petty theft
- Boating violations
- Fishing without a license
- Operating a business without a proper license
- Drinking in public
- Disturbing the peace
- Walking an unleashed dog
- Campsite violations
2 – Misdemeanors
Commonly regarded as crimes of moral turpitude. These are considered more serious than infractions, and are usually punishable by imprisonment at a local county jail or by stiff fines. Misdemeanor convicts reduce their chances of getting a job or a scholarship.
Common types of misdemeanors:
- Gross indecency
- Aggravated assault
3 – Felony
Felony is the most severe criminal offense that is punishable by a fine and imprisonment for more than a year. For immigrants, this is grounds for deportation. However, punishment for felonies can vary in a range of ways so long as it matches the severity of the crime. Courtroom procedures are strictly observed to protect the defendant’s right because of the severe punishments associated with felony offenses.
Common types of felonies:
While this isn’t a complete list for each category, it gives you a general idea of the types of offenses that might fall under each classification.
As always, this post was meant to educate and inform. It should not be considered legal advice, so always consult professional council.