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Infractions, Misdemeanors, and Felonies—What’s the Difference?

 Posted on April 13, 2018 in Criminal Defense

Every crime is different, and so are the sentences that come with them. So what are the differences between infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies? How can the type of crime impact your sentence? At The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., we answer these questions and more. Keep reading!


An infraction is the least severe, finable offense the court can charge you for. It’s a petty offense that typically doesn’t appear on background checks and doesn’t involve any court or jail time. However, if left unpaid, or after multiple offenses, the violation can escalate from an infraction to a misdemeanor.

A few examples of an infraction include:

  • Driving over the speed limit
  • Littering
  • Fishing without a license
  • Jaywalking
  • Disturbing the peace

The Punishments

Typically, a police officer will see the infraction occur and immediately write a citation for the violation. Unless the citation goes unpaid, the fine will be the only penalty for the infraction.


In the eyes of the law, a misdemeanor crime is more severe than an infraction, but less severe than a felony. Some states differentiate the severity of the crime through classes or degrees, but this only affects the possible punishment. A misdemeanor typically involves a jury trial, during which the accused will have the opportunity to present a defense.

Common misdemeanors include:

  • Petty theft
  • Prostitution
  • Vandalism
  • Shooting a firearm within city limits
  • Burglary
  • Restraining order violation

The Punishments

Unlike an infraction, misdemeanor punishments vary greatly. If convicted, you could be sentenced with up to 1 year of jail time or probation, issued a large fine or mandatory community service, and/or required to pay restitution for the losses you caused. Due to the severity of the punishments you could face, it is best to hire legal representation to defend your case.


As the most severe crimes, felonies often involve violence or the risk of physically harming others. They also include federal and white collar crimes. Like misdemeanors, the court classifies felony offenses based on their severity, and will punish you accordingly. Additionally, the court can elevate a misdemeanor offense to a felony depending on the number of previous convictions and/or severity of the crime itself.

Common felony offenses include:

  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated assault or battery
  • Larceny
  • Mail fraud
  • Forgery

The Punishments

The court punishes felony crimes with a significant amount of time in jail, ranging from 1 year to life, without the chance of parole. They can also sentence you to pay restitution, tens of thousands of dollars in fines, or even sentence you to death. When facing felony charges, you need the experienced legal support of a criminal defense attorney.

Contact Our Plano Criminal Defense Lawyer – [[phone1]]

Whether you are facing a class E felony charge or a petty theft misdemeanor, The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. is here for you. Our Plano criminal defense attorney, Darlina Crowder, has more than 15 years of experience in criminal law and has remained dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused since passing the bar in 1999. She is a member of a number of legal associations and has the knowledge and tools to represent you.

Don’t let your charges impact your future. Contact The Crowder Law Firm, P.C.  at [[phone1]].

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