The criminal justice system places offenses into three different categories: violations, misdemeanors, and felonies. If you’re ever arrested, it’s important to be aware of the differences between each of these. Knowing and understanding the charges against you will be key in planning your defense. According to the attorneys at Reynolds, Horne & Survant, how a crime is classified will depend on its severity, and this classification will be used to determine the consequences you face if convicted.
Violations are the least serious kind of criminal offense. Typically, these are punishable by fines but can also result in court-ordered community service. They don’t result in any jail time or require a jury trial. Common examples of violations include speeding, jaywalking, littering, and failing to follow building codes.
Misdemeanors are a step up from violations in terms of seriousness. Classic misdemeanor cases can involve DUI, simple assault, petty theft, and disorderly conduct. If convicted, you will have a criminal history that becomes a matter of public record. In most states, misdemeanors can carry a sentence in the county jail of up to one year, and offenders may also have to pay hefty fines, serve probation, complete community service, and/or pay restitution. Because of the harsher penalties, you have the right to a jury trial and to be represented by an attorney.
Felonies make up the most serious category of crimes and warrant the most severe punishments. Felony offenders may face a prison sentence from one year to life, with some cases resulting in the death penalty. Generally, these crimes involve causing serious harm to another, such as homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and robbery, but white-collar crimes can also be classified as a felony.
Regardless of the type of offense you’ve been accused of committing, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced attorney about your legal options. The criminal law professionals at Reynolds, Horne & Survant in Macon, GA, will fight to protect your rights and prevent the long-term ramifications of a conviction from damaging your personal and professional life. Contact them at (800) 537-3238, or visit their website to learn more about the firm’s accomplished legal team.