Different classifications of crimes are pegged on severity. Infractions are the mildest or pettiest crimes. Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are more serious, but felonies are the most severe crimes. The seriousness of the said crime influences the procedure of any criminal charge. Therefore, it is important to understand these differences existing between the classifications to know the severity of the crime and the potential punishment it attracts.


This class contains the most serious criminal offenses. Felonies are generally referred to as those crimes that are punishable by more than a year of imprisonment. The sentence to be served in prison is normally served in a state or federal penitentiary instead of a county jail.

Some felony examples include rape, kidnapping, arson, burglary, and murder. Individuals who have received conviction by way of a felony are referred to as felons. Under the sentencing laws, repeat felons are subject to extra harsh punishments with reference to their criminal history.

When charged with a felony, criminal defense and a good lawyer with good knowledge of the protection of human rights will be required. The lawyer should possess persuasive case argument skills to handle a case of this nature.


The other main crime categories besides felonies are infractions and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are referred to those crimes that hold less than a year’s sentence. Typical examples include a simple assault, shoplifting, and trespassing. In most cases, misdemeanor convicts do not necessarily serve jail term but are instead subjected by a court order to perform community service or instructed to pay a fine in monetary terms.

Most jurisdictions tend to separate misdemeanors in three classes as gross or high misdemeanors (imposes state prison), petty crimes (six months or less jail sentence and a 500dollars fine), and ordinary misdemeanors.

When convicted of misdemeanors, it is important to get yourself the right advocate; some misdemeanors charges tend to result in a jail term.


Infractions are considered the lowest level of criminal offenses. They usually hold no jail time whatsoever. Most traffic violations and littering are some of the examples of infractions. An infraction is treated as a civil offense by most states.

An infraction is defined differently by different states. For instance, Arizona defines these offenses as a generally petty offense that does not qualify as misdemeanors or felonies.

Chances are most individuals have committed infractions, resulting in an administrative penalty or a fine. Some infractions that are more commonly committed include littering, building permit violations, traffic violations, business operation without proper licensing, disturbing the peace, drinking in public, and others.

There are efforts to classify some drug offenses under infractions rather than felonies or misdemeanors despite the existence of strict drug laws (states level). In Maryland, for instance, possessing 10grams of marijuana falls under a civil offense, thereby attracting a fine of 100dollars as punishment.

It is important to note that there is generally no uniformity on how different states categorize their crimes. Therefore, you need to consult a criminal defense attorney and learn about your state’s minor offenses and the magnitude of their punishment.