Criminal law is a general term that encompasses a plethora of crimes. This means that different offenses that fall under the criminal law have varying punishment measures. The name given to a type of criminal offense will mostly depend on the country or state where the offense took place. However, the main classifications are felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions.
What are Infractions
Infractions are mainly petty crimes. They hardly go to trial and are often punishable by fines or in extreme cases probations. Some of the most common infractions include speeding tickets, parking tickets, jaywalking, etc.
Misdemeanors tend to be minor crimes – bigger than infractions but still not as serious as a felony. They often result in probation, fines and in some cases, incarceration in minimum security places for not more than one year. Some common misdemeanors include simple assault, an attempt of crimes, aiding of crimes, petty theft and others.
Felony charges always involve more serious crimes. In the USA, someone facing a felony charge risks imprisonment of upwards of one year and could even be given a death sentence. In most commonwealth countries today, Felonies are called Indictable offenses. Felony charges will mostly include; sexual assault, robbery (with or without violence), white collar theft, homicide, etc.
More about Felonies
Since the punishment for felony charges mostly depend on the level of the crime, it is impossible to predict the punishment or restriction that you will receive following a felony crime. However, it’s important that you be as careful as possible to avoid indictment. More grave consequence for felony charges may include being banned from certain areas, probation, and restricted access to possession of certain licenses, voting and jury rights, declaration of said felony in job applications and even deportation for migrants.
Some countries also have crimes turn into felonies; for example, when a person is convicted of a second misdemeanor, he or she may be convicted for a felony. Some places have levels to the crimes but in countries like the US, they often have the three-strike rule for both misdemeanors and felonies. What this means is that, if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony three times, you could be sentenced to life in prison. Laws are developing to lax such laws seeing as petty theft for such would not match the crime.
Migration policies regarding felonies are often very strict for people with work permits, temporary visas, and visitation; especially since felonies are deemed moral misdemeanors in different countries. Felonies could earn you immediate deportation to whatever country you are from.
In some places, felonies are defined by the place of incarceration. For example, minimum security prisons could often be considered incarceration for misdemeanors and thus, anybody incarcerated in such a prison will not be considered to have committed a felony even if it might be so. Same applies to maximum and mid-level security prisons.
Felonies are usually convicted in court after trial or hearing. More often than not, you have to be very careful who represents you in a felony case; as this could take a lot of time.