Infractions, misdemeanors and felonies — how are they different? In Georgia and elsewhere, crimes are divided into various categories, depending on the seriousness of the offenses. This week’s column will discuss the difference between infraction, misdemeanor and felony level offenses and what those accused of crimes can do in order to fight the charges filed against them.
Infractions are considered minor offenses that will go on one’s record but are not likely to affect one’s personal or professional life. Examples include speeding and jaywalking. Those accused of committing minor infractions will be given a citation and usually ordered to pay a fine. If desired, it is possible to go before a judge to fight infractions; however, in some cases, it may just be better to pay the fine and move forward.
Misdemeanors are more serious and can affect one’s life in numerous ways. Misdemeanors are broken down into to various categories, each punishable by fines and/or jail time. Examples of misdemeanors include simple drug possession and certain DUI-related crimes — among numerous others. A prosecuting attorney will be given a great deal of flexibility when it comes to deciding how these crimes will be charged and punished.
Finally, felony level offenses are considered the most serious. These are crimes that society views as completely unacceptable. Examples include certain drug crimes, violent crimes and kidnapping — among a long list of others. These crimes are punishable by hefty fines and lengthy prison terms.
If accused of an infraction, misdemeanor or felony level offense, it is possible to defend oneself. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist Georgia residents who are facing criminal charges in pursing a course of action that will help them achieve the best possible outcomes for their circumstances. For some that will be fighting accusations in hopes of achieving a case dismissal, and for others that will require working alongside their lawyer to negotiate with prosecuting attorneys in order to achieve an acceptable plea agreement.
Source: FindLaw, “What Distinguishes a Misdemeanor From a Felony?“, Accessed on March 22, 2017