What is a crime? 

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

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A crime is an action that breaks a law. There are varying degrees of crimes. A misdemeanor is a less serious crime. It may lead to a prison term, but generally not a long one. A person may pay a fine or be put on probation for a misdemeanor. Shoplifting, some crimes involving drugs, or disorderly conduct are examples of misdemeanors.

More serious crimes are called felonies. These crimes usually have a longer jail sentence than a misdemeanor. Murder, repeating drunken driving, and rape would be examples of felonies. Felons also may have some of their rights taken away. They may not be able to get a gun or run for certain offices. It may be more difficult to get a job as some job applications require a person to indicate if they have been convicted of a felony.

Another example of a crime that doesn’t fall into the category of a felony or misdemeanor would actions involving violating traffic laws or getting parking tickets. These are violations of laws but are more general in nature. The punishment usually doesn't involve serving time in a jail. There usually is no intent to harm anybody with these actions.

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