On the Taxonomy of Crimes: The Differences Between Felonies and Misdemeanors

gangster on the streetIn the United States, most legal systems divide crimes into two broad categories. These are known as felonies and misdemeanors. The categorization basically depends on the seriousness of the crime committed. Court systems use parameters to determine the gravity of the offense.

Infraction is the least serious type of offense. Running a red light and jaywalking are two of the easiest examples to cite. To settle cases, the offender will only have to pay some fines. But, what most people often get mixed up are the differences between misdemeanors and felonies. Thankfully, law firms, such as M-S-Lawyers.com, advocate the public’s education on these offenses. Read on to learn more about the distinctions of one crime from another.

Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are quite heavier than infractions. Generally, those who committed them are punished by up to a year in prison. Jail time is normally served in local prisons. Misdemeanors serve a middle ground, as most states classified them as crimes that are not considered felony or infraction. Crimes falling under this category include assaults with minimal injuries, intoxication in public, vandalism and trespassing.

Felonies

These are considered the most serious types of crimes. Punishments for felonies are usually heavy, depending on the severity of the crime; jail time is usually longer and fines are bigger. Death penalty may also be involved. This, however, tends to be discriminatory and used disproportionately against the poor. Examples of these crimes include assaults with the use of weapons, arson, rape, and murder.

It’s also worth noting that states may have different methods in subdividing felonies. When dividing felony cases, criminal systems use the words classes, degrees or levels.

There are certain charges that the legal system may charge as a misdemeanor or felony. These cases are called wobblers. The decision on the type of case depends on the circumstances of the case.