A nation’s law system is typically based on the way most of its people feel is right or just. The American system largely stems from the laws of Great Britain, which the settlers of the Thirteen Colonies brought with them when they arrived on the Atlantic shores. Through the centuries, the U.S. has added its own laws and restrictions.
Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Petty Crimes
The most serious crimes in the United States are classified as felonies. Murder, rape, or armed robbery cases are felonies. So are convictions on arson, elder abuse, and grand theft. A conviction generally results in more than a year in prison, or life in prison without parole, or, in some cases, capital punishment. Anyone who helped the charged person to commit a felony may also be charged. Felony laws vary throughout the states, and degrees are determined in each state by the severity of the crime. For instance, a felony conviction in California may mean up to 25 years in prison, a life sentence with no parole, or a possible death sentence.
A misdemeanor is best described as not being regarded as bad as a felony.
This lesser crime may bring a maximum of 12 or less months in jail and is generally judged on its seriousness. For instance, if you become angry with your next door neighbor and slap him in the face, you can probably be charged with a misdemeanor; if you hit him on the head with your golf club, you may be facing a felony.
A so-called petty crime in the United States, also known as an infraction, does not usually mean time in jail. It can, however, mean a fine for shoplifting, running a stop sign, or disturbing the peace. However, if running the stop sign results in an accident of some seriousness, the charge may go up. In a 1996 Supreme Court case, Lewis v US, Justice J. O’Conner noted that to list an offense as petty, the maximum penalty that can be attached to it must be judged.
Call on Cibula Law
No matter how slight it may seem, becoming entangled for a criminal defense even in a petty crime dispute can be horrific. At our company, headed by third-generation lawyer Mark Cibula in Redding, California, we can understand the sleepless nights and endless headaches that such a charge can bring. We are well experienced with all facets of law in California and that includes even the petty crime charge that never seems to go away. Call us now; we really can help.