The criminal justice system can be intimidating, but the first step requires understanding terminology. Generally speaking, there are three different categories of crime.

These three categories are in fraction, misdemeanor and felony. According to Findlaw, a misdemeanor charge is more serious than an infraction but less serious than a felony.

What are the potential punishments for misdemeanors?

The general rule with misdemeanors is that, if convicted, you will not spend more than one year in jail. Anything that carries a potential jail sentence of longer than one year is felony. Within misdemeanors, they have three different classes on the federal level.

There are class A misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanors and Class C misdemeanors. Class C misdemeanors are the least serious, carrying a potential punishment of more than 5 days in jail but less than 30. A Class B misdemeanor has a sentence of less than 6 months but more than 30 days. The class A misdemeanor is the most serious misdemeanor with a potential jail sentence after one year but more than 6 months.

What are some examples of misdemeanors?

Misdemeanor crimes are more serious than infractions. A common example of an infraction is a traffic ticket, which does not involve a criminal record nor any jail time served. Felonies, on the other hand, are very serious crimes like rape, arson, and murder.

Common misdemeanors include petty theft, trespassing, disorderly conduct, vandalism and prostitution. Being convicted of a misdemeanor does not result in a loss of civil rights the way that a felony conviction does. However, you may lose certain professional licenses or public employment if convicted.