3 Levels of Offense: Infraction-Misdemeanor-Felony

3 Levels of Offense: infraction-misdemeanor-felony

3 Levels of Offense: Infraction-Misdemeanor-Felony

The intricacies of the legal system can be overwhelming. With millions of legal terms, how do you know what applies to you and your case? Starting with some basics, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the level of severity for your charge. Are you being accused of an infraction, misdemeanor or felony?

Infraction: The "Least Severe" Charge

Of the 3 levels of offense (infraction, misdemeanor and felony), an infraction, in the state of Florida is considered the same as the term “violation.” You have likely heard this term after the word moving, as in moving violation. You can find yourself with an infraction when you fail to leash your dog or renew his license. Littering and jaywalking are also fairly common causes for an infraction. Most commonly, an infraction can be as simple as a traffic ticket. 

An infraction is not considered a criminal charge. The penalty? Most often you will find yourself paying a fee or other fines, although you may also find some points will be added to your driving record. But it will not show up in a criminal record.

Examples of Infractions

For an infraction, no jury is required. The court simply determines if the crime was committed by the defendant as described. If the ruling is guilty, the judge assigns a penalty. Penalties are determined at the state level of legislation, and vary from state to state, and even county to county in some cases. Often you can find a fee schedule online. For example, here’s a fee schedule for Pasco County traffic violations. Similarly, here’s a fine schedule for Pinellas County ordinance violations.

Misdemeanor: The "Middle Ground" of Offenses

While an infraction is not a criminal charge, a misdemeanor is a more severe charge than an infraction, carrying more severe penalties as it is an actual  criminal offense.

So, for the 3 levels of offense: infraction, misdemeanor and felony, the misdemeanors (first and second degree) lie in the middle.

To add another layer of confusion, misdemeanors are divided again into two different levels: first degree misdemeanors and second degree misdemeanors. First degree misdemeanors are the more serious of the two designations. In Florida, they carry penalties of up to $1000 and a year in jail. Second degree misdemeanors can come with up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

Following are some examples of Florida First Degree and Second Degree Misdemeanors:

First Degree Misdemeanors

Second Degree Misdemeanors

Felony: The Most Grievous of Crimes

Of the 3 levels of offense: (infraction, misdemeanor and felony), felony sits at the top as the most grievous of the bunch. In Florida, there are life felonies and first, second and third degree felonies. Federal felonies are ranked differently.

A life felony is punishable by up to a lifetime sentence in prison.

First degree felonies have long prison terms and heavy fines with up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Second degree felonies in Florida are punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

Third degree felonies have fines up to $5000 and 5 years in prison. Sometimes, the court system may consider a period of probation over a prison sentence.

Beyond the state, federal felonies exist as well and have a ranking system, classified A to E. A Class A felony would be the most serious crime, and a Class E Felony would be the least serious of these felonies.

Examples of Felonies (Florida)

3 Levels of Offense: Infraction-Misdemeanor-Felony

Regardless of your level of offense from an infraction to a federal class A felony, you should visit the Contact Page of Bartlett Law Offices for your best defense. Or, if you prefer, call us, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m at 727-712-7502.

We believe that before you are in need of a second chance, you need the best defense for your first chance! Bartlett Law Offices has the experience you need to work with all levels of violations. You can trust that we will provide you with a professional, ethical and knowledgeable defense.