The court does not view all crimes the same way. If the courts have accused you of a misdemeanor, it is important to know exactly what that means and what the potential outcomes are. The more you understand about the criminal process, the easier dealing with the legal system will be.

Generally speaking, there are three different categories of crime. According to Findlaw, these categories are infraction, misdemeanor, and felony.

What is the difference between an infraction and a misdemeanor?

Infractions are the least serious variety of crime. For the majority of infractions, there is no jail time and the individual must only pay a fine. A common variety of infraction that most Americans incur at some point is a traffic or a parking ticket.

In comparison, a misdemeanor is a more serious crime. The punishment for misdemeanors may include up to a year in prison but no more. However, infractions may also incur jail time if you do not address the fine. For example, if you never pay your speeding ticket, the penalties for this infraction become more severe.

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

Felonies are the most severe varieties of crime. Examples of felonies include murder, kidnapping, rape and arson. Depending on the situation, the penalties for a felony charge may include life in prison or even the death sentence.

In contrast, a misdemeanor may not involve more than one year in prison. Common examples of misdemeanors include petty theft, petty vandalism and public intoxication. Often, first-time offenders with a misdemeanor charge may not spend any time in prison at all.