Violating the law constitutes a crime and the offender must be penalized. However, given there are some offenses less serious than others, crimes are classified to distinguish between minor and serious offenses, with corresponding differences in punishment.
For crimes that generally did not inflict physical harm or caused death, these are referred to as misdemeanors. These are crimes, explains Noll Law Office, committed with no violence involved.
Examples of misdemeanors are shoplifting, trespassing or petty theft, the latter of which is determined by the value of the stolen items or goods. Unless injury or death resulted, traffic violations are generally considered misdemeanors, particularly for first-time offenders. This includes speeding, driving without a license and DUI.
What sets misdemeanors apart from felonies – the more serious crimes involving violence – is the penalty. If the sentence includes imprisonment, the term is usually less than a year up to a maximum of one year. Otherwise, only a fine is slapped on the offender, or community service for a certain number of hours.
In Australia, misdemeanors are known as summary procedures, where the case can be ruled on by a magistrate and does not require a jury.
The services of a criminal defense attorney is required for felonies or crimes against persons and property, which often include violence, The same goes for theft with the value of the property being over $500 dollars.
It is distinguished by the penalty which is usually imprisonment not lower than one year, plus damages or a fine.
A person who committed murder, rape, kidnapping, arson or burglary will likely be facing felony charges. Punishment is almost always commensurate to the crime, such as life imprisonment for murder or rape.
A felony case will be tried in court before a jury to ensure the accused’s rights are protected since the corresponding penalty is severe.
Other Types of Felonies
Other felonies include stalking, indecency, assault and property damage below $2,500, among others. Penalties range from imprisonment no more than five years and a fine up to $120,000.
Major indictable offenses, punishable by imprisonment no less than five years and a hefty fine, include homicide, fraud and sexual offenses.
Wherever you are in the world, crime does not pay. Whether a crime is minor or serious, the guilty will be punished.