Criminal offenses are generally categorized under the following categories:
States and federal laws define Misdemeanor Crimes as any criminal offense that could be punishable by up to one year in imprisonment. Of course, punishments for misdemeanor crimes could include imposition of fine, probation, community service, and restitution as well.
Misdemeanor Example. Jill slaps Jack and is charged with simple assault (although, the right name is battery). Under California Penal Code 241, for instance, Jack can be convicted of a maximum fine of $1,000 and maximum jail time of six months. Therefore, simple assault in this case is a misdemeanor.
A Felony crime is referred to serious criminal offenses that can carry an imprisonment for a year or more. Please note that the accused does not have to be imprisoned for a year or more.
“Wobblers” Felony or Misdemeanor:
A Wobbler crime is an offense that may be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Sometimes, a crime which is prosecuted as a felony, may be downgraded to a misdemeanor during sentencing. This power is bestowed upon judges by statutes. Thus, depending on the jurisdiction, a judge may have the authority to sentence an offender as either misdemeanant or felon. For instance, Jack is convicted of assault with deadly weapon in a jurisdiction that punishes such a crime either by up to one year or up to fivers in prison.
The judge here has a discretion to decree a sentence less than one year, which will make it a misdemeanor or one year or more, which would make it a felony. This flexibility makes the crime a wobbler.
Infractions are petty offenses, which are also referred to as violations. Generally, such offenses are punishable by fines.
Please note: There is no constitutional right to have a jury trial, for infractions. That is because, these violations are not punishable by prison. Moreover, there is no constitutional rights to have the effective assistance of counsel. This means, the offender has the right to hire a lawyer, but the government would not provide one, if the offender is indigent (poor).
Traffic violations are generally treated as infractions. In fact, in some jurisdictions such offenses are considered civil and not criminal.
In accord with our mission to be your comprehensive communication platform for law and justice, we try to define legal terms in simple ways so you can understand them better. However, these articles are neither legal advice nor replacements for attorney consultations.
Law is a very delicate yet complex subject matter. If you have been charged with a serious crime, please do not hesitate to click on www.ChosenLawyers.com and consult with a Highly Experienced, Credible and Compassionate Chosen Criminal Defense Lawyer, right away. That is because, it is always better to know your rights and duties, when dealing with LAW!