What are the differences among infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies? | Law Office of James Medows

10 Dec What are the differences among infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies?

What are the differences among infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies?

First, there are two broad categories of crimes in New York State—misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are considered lower-level offenses, while felonies tend to be more serious crimes. Second, some crimes can be considered either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on how they were committed. A good example of that is aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle (AUO). Under state law, AUO is an A misdemeanor that carries penalties of up to one year in jail and/or fines reaching $500 for a first offense.

This can be somewhat difficult to describe, because as with many laws, it depends. Generally speaking, however, misdemeanor charges are reserved for lesser crimes. These could be criminal offenses that involve potential jail time of up to one year or less. Felony charges are more serious and can come with much longer prison sentences (typically more than one year). Infractions are not criminal offenses, but they can carry penalties like fines and court costs; usually speaking though they do not carry any potential jail time. Infractions are also typically less serious than misdemeanors or felonies. An example of an infraction would be a speeding ticket; an example of a misdemeanor would be assault and battery; while an example of a felony would be armed robbery.

An infraction is an offense that is considered minor, and carries no jail time. They are heard in traffic court. The penalties for infractions are usually fines. Examples of infractions are speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield right-of-way when turning. A misdemeanor crime is more serious than an infraction, but less serious than a felony. Examples of misdemeanors include petty theft and criminal mischief (scratching someone’s car). A felony crime involves crimes such as burglary, arson or rape. Penalties for felonies may include imprisonment in state prison and heavy fines.