Every criminal defense has its place on the scale. Some offenses are not nearly as serious as others, but this does not mean they are not classified as criminal offenses in some regard. The most common classifications are felonies and misdemeanors, and in being the most common these are also the classifications individuals are most familiar. However, there are different types of offenses and it is best to know what they are so that you understand that some may have nothing to do with the other and not every offense is something you should be afraid of, as not every offense requires jail time or affects your criminal record. Classifications have different levels of intensity, as well as consequences, in different regions but usually apply to the same offense. We are going to list these classifications in order of least serious to the most serious.
Infractions are usually punishable by fines from the courts. These are simply violations, such as traffic or parking. These offenses do no usually require an attorney, as there are no criminal consequences like jail time, trial, or charges on your criminal record because of these. While you may be summoned to court, you are not facing jail and can easily pay the infraction to avoid any additional headache.
These are far more serious than infractions and can require jail time; not prison time. Individuals are usually sent to prison when sentenced to more than a year in a correctional facility. Misdemeanors are not punishable for more than a year. Much like infractions, misdemeanors may also be punishable by fines. Because jail time is on the line, it is typical you to hire a criminal defense attorney or have one appointed to you by the courts. Misdemeanors have specifications as well and you should speak with an attorney if you are facing one.
The most serious, and thus the more serious punishment follows should you be charged with a felony. There are ranges of offenses that fall under the category of felony but this does not always mean jail or prison time either. An individuals’ punishment depends on the offense but sometimes may consist of only probation and fines.
No matter the classification your offense falls under, it is best to contact a criminal defense attorney to be sure. Should you or someone you know have any sort of run in with the law, be sure to contact a criminal defense attorney in Atlanta, GA as soon as possible.
Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and crime classifications.