Classifying Criminal Offenses

Crimes or criminal offenses are typically placed into three different classifications, namely infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Within these classifications, there are also different types of crimes, which include Property, Personal, Inchoate, and Statutory Crimes. These classifications are ranked by the seriousness of the crime, the situations in which they occur, and how much, if any, damage was caused.

Across the United States, each state and various jurisdictions may have different penalties for each of these criminal offenses. Furthermore, there may even be some discrepancy on what is considered a felony, misdemeanor, or infraction due to the circumstances of how the alleged crime committed. With this in mind, the information provided in this article will paint a broad picture of the three main types of criminal offenses in order to understand each classification more clearly. 


Laws are subject to change, Federally, by state and within counties. The information relayed in this article should not be used as legal advice. 

If you are seeking legal counsel for a crime, contact our Springfield criminal offense attorneys at Missouri Legal


Criminal Offenses: InfractionsWoman Receiving Speeding Ticket

Minor offenses such as traffic violations, noise complaint tickets, speeding tickets, etc. are usually considered infractions. Other terms for an infraction include a violation or a petty crime. Infractions are criminal offenses that may require the defendant to pay a fine but are not punishable by jail time.

Many times, the required fine for the infraction can be paid without going to court. Infractions don’t usually require the legal assistance of a criminal offense attorney. For example, if you were pulled over for not wearing a seat belt and received a seatbelt ticket, it would cost you more to hire an attorney then to pay the ticket. Infractions such as these may stay on your driving record for a time but most often will not affect your points or your life in any way. However, one-too-many infractions, especially traffic violations, can make it much more challenging to land a job that requires you to drive. Whatever your situation, it’s always best to at least discuss your options with a criminal offense attorney in Springfield, before paying your fine or admitting guilt. 


Criminal Offenses: Misdemeanors 

Moving up in terms of seriousness and penalties, the next classification for criminal offenses is a misdemeanor. In most states, a misdemeanor conviction will carry a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail in addition to possible fines, community service, and restitution.  A misdemeanor is considered a lesser crime than a felony; however, in some cases, a misdemeanor criminal offense can become a felony under certain circumstances. Such as if the defendant is a repeat offender or ran a red light that resulted in a motor vehicle accident where another person or persons was seriously injured. 

When a person is charged with a misdemeanor, he or she will be entitled to a trial by jury and the right to a public defender. Additionally, the defendant can hire a private criminal offense attorney in Springfield to defend them in court.  

Within the classification of misdemeanor crimes, there are classes which start from A (this is the most severe charge for a misdemeanor) and down to a class D misdemeanor with the least amount of penalties.

Criminal Offenses: Felonies

The most serious classification of a criminal offense in the United States is a Felony. Charges that can result in a felony conviction in most states include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Aggravated Assault
  • Arson
  • Drug Distribution
  • Elder Abuse
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Felony Assault
  • Grand Theft
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Homicide
  • Rape 
  • Tax Evasion



To determine the punishment or penalty for committing a crime, felonies are divided into subcategories, such as first, second, and third-degree criminal offenses. Sentences for felonies can range from one year behind bars to life imprisonment without parole. In some states, for the felony crime of murder, the death penalty may be imposed. In addition to jail time, fines, probation, community service, and restitution will also be figured into the final decision by the Judge. Just like a misdemeanor crime, if someone is charged with a felony, they have a right to a court-appointed attorney. They may also hire a criminal offense lawyer in Springfield to defend them against the prosecution.  


Hiring a Springfield Criminal Offense AttorneyLawyer and judge speaking next to the criminal in handcuffs

Some criminal offenses don’t always require the guidance of a legal counsel, such as a parking or insurance ticket, both of which would be considered infractions. However, for more severe crimes such as misdemeanors and felonies, and some violations, your future depends on you hiring a competent criminal offense attorney in Springfield. Criminal convictions can negatively impact your career, owning a home, and can even strain your professional and personal relationships. If you or loved one is facing criminal charges in Missouri, it’s crucial to the quality of your life that you contact an experienced criminal offense attorney. Whether you wish to meet in person or discuss your case over the phone, our attorneys at Missouri Legal can provide you with the legal answers you need. Contact us today, for a no-obligation consultation, where we can answer any of your legal questions and discuss possible defenses to win your case.