Working within the criminal justice system can be very complex, and it is important that you understand the nature of the charges against you. Very broadly, all infractions of the law appear in three categories. These categories are infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
The type of crime that the court charges you with affects how the court system deals with your case. According to Findlaw, infractions are the least serious crimes, while felonies are the most serious.
The difference between the three types of crimes
Infractions are the least serious variety of crime. In fact, an infraction usually does not appear on a criminal record. A good example of an infraction that most Americans incur during their lives is a speeding ticket. Infractions usually only have fines, and no jail time.
Misdemeanors are more serious than infractions but less serious than felonies. A misdemeanor may carry a jail sentence, but for no more than one year. An example of a misdemeanor is minor vandalism.
Felonies are by far the most serious criminal charge. Felonies include violent crimes like rape, kidnapping, and murder.
Taking the right actions
Once you understand the severity of the accusations against you, you can take appropriate action. For instance, most infractions can be easily solved by paying the fine. Misdemeanor charges often involve plea bargaining since prosecutors have more flexibility.
However, if somebody accuses you of a violent crime and you are looking at a felony charge, the criminal process is much more formal and rigid. This is to ensure that the system protects your rights. You will need legal representation if dealing with a felonious charge.