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How Are Different Crimes Classified? Four Things to Know About Different Degrees of Crimes


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Different crimes have different classifications depending on their severity. To learn more, here are four things to know about different degrees of crimes in the U.S.

1. Felonies Are the Most Serious Type of Crime

In the U.S. legal system, felonies are deemed the most serious type of crime. The consequences they bear often include hefty fines and long-term imprisonment.

Felonies are frequently classified by degree. In simplified terms, there are first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree felonies. The first degree is the most severe while the third degree is the least serious.

First-Degree Felonies

First-degree felonies are typically crimes that are of the most heinous in nature. The types of crimes that fall under this category include murder, rape, and kidnapping.

Second-Degree Felonies

Crimes that fall under the categorization of second-degree felonies might not be as grievous as their first-degree counterparts but they still warrant significant attention. Examples of crimes include manslaughter and serious drug offenses.

Third-Degree Felonies

The crimes that come under this category are less severe, but they are still serious charges. Theft and minor drug possession are both examples of third-degree felonies. A third degree charge can also include aggravated assault, prescription drug fraud, and terroristic threats.

2. Misdemeanors Are Less Serious Than Felonies

Considered less serious than felonies, misdemeanors still pose significant consequences to lawbreakers under U.S. law.

Many states categorize misdemeanor crimes into classes, such as Class A, Class B, and Class C misdemeanors.

Class A Misdemeanors

Class A misdemeanors are taken very seriously. Typical examples include petty theft and first-offense drunk driving. While the gravity of these crimes is not as severe as felonies, they can result in imprisonment.

Class B Misdemeanors

Class B misdemeanors are crimes that are not quite as grave as those in Class A. Non-serious assaults or disorderly conduct are examples of crimes that fall under Class B categorization. The punishments attached are typically less austere than that of Class A misdemeanors.

Class C Misdemeanors

These are the least severe among the legal misdemeanor class system. Cases like minor possession of prohibited substances or certain types of traffic offenses fall under this category. While penalties vary widely by state, fines, and community service are typical repercussions.

3. Infractions Are the Least Serious Types of Crime

Now, let us turn our attention to infractions, which are the least serious types of crime.

 On most occasions, an infraction will simply involve law enforcement observing wrongdoing, writing a ticket, and handing it to the offender. The primary consequence is usually a fine. Usually, perpetrators do not go to court or ever face time in jail.

Traffic violations are common examples of infractions. Seatbelt neglect, traffic tickets, parking citations, littering, jaywalking, trespassing on private property, and hunting or fishing without a license are all forms of infractions. 

Public nuisance behaviors such as graffiti and spitting on the sidewalk fall into this category as well.

4. Laws Can Differ from One State to Another

It is worth noting that categories and the specific crimes that come under those classifications can sometimes differ from one state to another in the U.S.

So, if you want to learn more, make sure you research crime classifications and the different degrees of crimes in your particular state.

Also, classifications and degrees of crimes can differ from one country to another – so again, research your country to find out more if you do not live in the U.S. You can find the information you require on official government websites or by consulting a local lawyer.

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