09 Nov Crimes Defined – Basic Classifications
by Criminal Defense Attorney Isabell Flores of Law Offices of Isabell W. Flores (FloresLaw.com) on November 9, 2012
This article is simply for those of you who want to know basically what a “crime” is. There are three (3) basic classifications: (1) Infraction, (2) Misdemeanor, and (3) Felony.
An infraction is a violation of a minor offense, including but not limited to most moving traffic violations (encompassed in the California Vehicle Code) and parking violations. They are punishable by fine and are not punishable by imprisonment. If you are charged with an infraction you are not entitled to a trial by jury or to a public defender.
A misdemeanor is a criminal charge that is more serious than an infraction, but less serious than a felony. It is basically a crime that you can only get less than a year for. For example, a first time petty theft you can only get a maximum of six months in jail. You are entitled to a jury trial and may be eligible for a public defender if you qualify.
A felony is a violation of a serious offense. Generally, it is a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison. It is a crime that you can get only more than a year in prison, murder or robbery for example. You have a right to a preliminary hearing. You are also entitled to a jury trial and may be eligible for a public defender.