What are the main classes of crime?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The main classes of crime are felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions.  These are classified according to the seriousness of those crimes.

Felonies are the most serious crimes and are generally defined as crimes for which the penalty is more than one year imprisonment.  These are crimes such as burglary or larceny or even murder.

Misdemeanors are less serious crimes.  These may be punishable by a shorter term in a jail or by a fine.  Misdemeanors can include such things as petty theft or public intoxication.

Finally, some crimes are classified as infractions.  These are generally very low-level acts that are, in some places, not even classified as crimes.  These would include such things as traffic offenses.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There are three main classifications of crime. They are infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. These classifications range from the least serious offenses to the most serious offenses.

An infraction is when a law enforcement official sees somebody doing something wrong. For example, when a person is crossing the street and the signal is flashing a “don’t walk” message, a person might receive a ticket for this infraction or violation. Many traffic violations also would fall into this category.

A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less serious than a felony. Misdemeanors may result in a person paying a fine and/or serving time in jail. An example of a misdemeanor would be possession of a small amount of an illegal drug.

A felony is a very serious crime. Two examples of a felony are first-degree murder and kidnapping. A person convicted of a felony would likely pay a fine and/or serve time in person. When a person is convicted of a felony, the individual may lose other rights such as the right to own a gun.


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