Breaking The Law: What To Know About Legal Classifications

23 January 2023
 Categories: , Blog


Our legal system divides crimes into several categories. Some are minor, like traffic tickets, and some are extremely serious, like felonies. For an explanation of these categories and what they mean, read on.


This is the least serious of all criminal categories. Many drivers ticketed for driving too fast don't consider that they have committed a crime. However, driving violations are all crimes, even if they are very minor crimes, and ignoring small crimes can lead to more serious consequences. For example, the law can come down harshly on those who don't pay their traffic fines. Warrants for their arrest can be issued, for example. When you are arrested, that relatively inexpensive traffic ticket can lead to a criminal record, jail time, extensive fines, and other penalties. If you pay the ticket without appearing in court, you are pleading guilty to the offense. However, traffic tickets won't result in a criminal record. You can end up with points on your license, increased auto insurance rates, and problems with your job if driving is part of your work tasks. Not all traffic offenses fall into the infraction category. Driving while intoxicated and reckless driving are often charged at the misdemeanor or felony level.

Misdemeanor Offenses

Breaking the law and being charged with a misdemeanor falls into the medium category in terms of seriousness. Although those convicted of a misdemeanor can go to jail, that rarely occurs. Keeping the jails less crowded will often mean other punishments are in store for those convicted of things like driving under the influence, resisting arrest, petty theft, trespassing, and more. Punishment for a misdemeanor crime will often include probation, counseling, classes, and community service. However, just because you won't get jail time does not mean the punishment is easy or inexpensive. Losing your driving privileges and being fined thousands of dollars is extremely disruptive. Speak to a criminal defense attorney about your misdemeanor charges.


You will need to hire a criminal defense attorney if you are charged with a felony. Felony charges are reserved for the most serious crimes. That might mean a crime that caused an injury or death, such as assault, kidnapping, and more. It can also prompt a misdemeanor crime to be elevated to the felony level. For example, driving while intoxicated (DUI) charge might be elevated to a felony if an accident with injuries occurred. Those convicted of felonies face the potential for a prison sentence. Take the charges seriously and speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.