The three categories of criminal offense in the United States include felony, misdemeanor and infraction. These different categories are differentiated by the severity of the offense and the type of punishment given to an individual that is convicted of the crime.
This is the most serious category of all crimes. The punishment for a felony committed is incarceration of more than a year in jail. Some cases even go as far as life imprisonment without parole and others even end up in execution. Property and violation crimes can both be considered as felony. Rape, robbery, murder and many other crimes all fall under felony and are appropriately punishable under the law.
Moreover, the person who committed the crime along with all his or her accessories will be charged with felony and will serve the sentenced punishment for the act they committed. People who helped prevent the capture of a felon will also be punished. The classification of a felony is different from one state to another and each has its own minimum or maximum sentences.
However, anyone who is convicted as a felon will lose his or her civil rights, will not be allowed to vote or even bear arms.
This category encompasses crimes that are not as severe as felonies. These illegal acts are referred to as lesser crimes wherein the maximum sentence is for 1 year or less in prison. A misdemeanor can be distinguished from a felony depending on the seriousness of a crime. Frustrated homicide is considered a felony while punching someone is just a misdemeanor. However, there are some cases of misdemeanors that can rise up to felony under specific circumstances. Take for instance, possession of marijuana that is less than an ounce in some states is classified as misdemeanor. But if you have more than an ounce then possession with the intent to distribute can be charged to you and this is a felony.
An infraction is a committed crime that does not call for jail time as a sentence. They are usually considered as petty crimes that are punishable by fines. Infractions may also not be taken to court if the settlement has already been done. They are ordinances that are passed to control the behavior of residents in a certain community. Examples of these are speed limit, no parking and anti-noise laws. However, just like any other crime an infraction may also be raised up to a more serious level of crime. So be very careful not to commit an act that causes damage or injury as it can be considered as a serious offense.