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Degrees of Crime

Crime, whether it is an accident or intentional, has a lot of repercussions on the person who commits the crime. Finding yourself in that position can be scary and overwhelming. There are three classifications of crime:

The least serious crimes fall under petty offenses, but can also be referred to as infractions of the law. While technically part of the misdemeanor group, petty offenses have their own section of the law because they are so common, easy to take care of, and usually only affect the person being charged. In almost all petty offense cases, the defendant does not have the right to have a jury decide their case. It is either left up to the police officer who made their charge, or if it gets bought into the court room, a judge will have the authority to make the decision. Punishment for petty crimes is mostly fines and can be taken care of the same day. For example, traffic tickets, or parking fines.


Misdemeanors are slightly more serious than infractions, carrying heavier fines and perhaps even jail time. Even if a person commits a misdemeanor and is sent to jail, the person usually stays in a county jail rather than going to a federal penitentiary, separated a little from the more serious criminals and harsher jail settings. Misdemeanors do not count in any state’s “three strikes” rule and does not tarnish a person’s record, as they can still vote and maintain their licenses.


The most serious crime one can commit is called a felony. A felony is a crime like murder, rape, or armed robbery. The punishment for felonies can be anything from a year in prison to the death sentence in some states. Felons must serve their time in a federal prison and have many more rights taken away if they get out of prison.

Speak to a San Jose Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or someone you know has been charged with theft, burglary, or robbery, you need the counsel of a legal insider representing you. Contact the San Jose criminal defense lawyers of the [firm-name] at [phone-number].