What is a misdemeanor charge?

On Behalf of | May 18, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Going through the criminal justice system is stressful for a variety of reasons, but a way to mitigate some stress is to understand all of the terminology. For instance, infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies are all different classifications of crimes. 
Part of dealing with a misdemeanor charge is understanding the nature of the charge. According to FindLaw, misdemeanor charges are generally defined by having a potential jail sentence of no longer than one year. 
What is the difference between an infraction and a misdemeanor? 
Infractions are the least serious variety of crime. Generally speaking, infractions will not come with a jail sentence. Normally if a judge finds you guilty of an infraction, you will merely need to pay a fine. Generally, there is also no criminal record associated with an infraction. An example of an infraction that many Americans deal with is a traffic ticket. 
On the other hand, a misdemeanor is more serious. Not all misdemeanors and up with the convicted going to jail, but it is a distinct possibility. 
What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor? 
Felonies are much more serious than misdemeanors. In fact, a felony conviction comes with a sentence that is more than one year. This is the means by which the court defines misdemeanors and felonies separately. Felonies include crimes such as kidnapping, murder, rape and arson. It is possible to end up with either a life imprisonment sentence or the death penalty upon a felony conviction. 
Essentially, a misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less serious than a felony. Plea bargaining is common with misdemeanors because prosecutors have more room to bargain with them as compared to felonies.