Infractions, misdemeanor, felony, what is the difference?

 

Infraction

Infractions are the least serious type of crime a person can commit, they are only punishable by fine. They typically occur when a law enforcement officer sees someone doing something wrong, write a ticket and hand it to the person. The person then must pay a fine for whatever action this might have been. Infractions usually involve little to no time in court (much less jail), and include things like traffic tickets, littering, walking your dog without a leash, jaywalking, and some minor drug possession charges in some states. However, if infractions remain unaddressed or unpaid, the law typically provides for an increasing range of fines and potential penalties. It is always advised to consult a Criminal defense lawyer Arlington, TX trusts to determine what else you need to do to address any infractions on your record.

Misdemeanor

Misdemeanors are more serious than infractions. They are usually defined as a crime which is punishable by up to a year in jail time. Sometimes that jail time is served in a local county jail instead of a high security prison. Other states define a misdemeanor as a crime that is not a felony or an infraction. Prosecutors generally have a great degree of flexibility in deciding what crimes to charge, how to punish them, and what kinds of plea bargains to negotiate. Depending on the crime committed, there are different levels to measure the punishment. Misdemeanors are typically put into three categories class C, B, and A. Class C misdemeanor is the lowest, punishable only by a maximum fine of $500 with no jail time in Texas. Class B is punishable with a maximum $2000 fine and up 180 days in county jail. Lastly, a class A misdemeanor is punishable with a maximum $4000 fine and up to a year in county jail.

Felony

Felonies are the most serious types of crimes. They are usually defined by the fact that they are punishable by prison sentences of greater than one year. Since the punishments can be so severe, courtroom procedure must be strictly observed so that the defendants’ rights stay protected. Felonies are usually crimes that are viewed severely by society, and include crimes such as murder, rape, burglary, kidnapping, or arson. However, felonies can also be punished in a range of ways so that the punishment matches the severity of the crime. Felony crimes are categorized to five different levels: capital punishments, first degree, second degree, third degree and state jail. Capital punishment is the death sentence which is used in the Texas criminal justice system. If the defendant was a juvenile at the time the crime was committed and the prosecutor chooses not to seek the death penalty, then a capital felony is punishable by life imprisonment if convicted. The first-degree felony can result in life imprisonment or five to 99 years’ imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted. Second degree can be punishable by two to 20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted. Third degree felonies can punishable by two to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted. Lastly, state jail felony in Texas are punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

 

Thank you to our friends and contributors, Brandy Austin Law, for their insights into criminal defense.