FELONY vs MISDEMEANER

Infraction, Misdemeanor and Felony

    There are three types of charges:

  • Infraction  -fines only, no probation, no jail time
  • Misdemeanor -fines, probation, maximum 1 year in county jail,
  • Felony -fines, probation, up to 1 year in county jail, possibly state prison for more than 1 year, parole

 INFRACTIONS

An infraction does not carry any incarceration or jail time. There is also no probation for infractions and the only punishment is financial. This means, if you are charged with an infraction, the punishment you may receive does not include jail time.

Common infractions are seatbelt violations, simple speeding tickets, littering citations, running a red light, and failure to stop properly at a stop sign. Many times traffic school is offered for certain infractions (moving violation). Certain charges like disturbing the peace or trespassing can be charged either as an infraction or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances.

Because of the non-criminal nature of infraction charges, the accused does not have the right to a jury trial but does have the right to face the allegations against him/her by way of a bench trial (no jury, the judge will decide the facts).

MISDEMEANOR CHARGES

A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by maximum confinement of one year in county jail.  Misdemeanors also carry fines, commonly a maximum fine of $1,000.00. Misdemeanor defendants are guaranteed certain rights because of the seriousness of the charge, including the right to an attorney and the right to a jury trial.  Misdemeanor cases can continue for several months and in unusual cases last more than a year, due to the gravity and complexity of these cases.

FELONY CHARGES

A felony is a crime punishable by minimum confinement of more than a year in state prison.  Felonies are commonly also punished by fines and formal, supervised probation.  Felony defendants are guaranteed certain rights because of the seriousness of the charges they face, including the right to an attorney and the right to a jury trial.  Felony cases can go on for months, and in unusual cases last several years, due to the gravity and complexity of these cases.

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