Petty offenses (known as "infractions") do not lead to jail time. For example, jay-walking is considered a petty offense. Those found guilty of petty offenses usually receive tickets or citations. Misdemeanors fall in between petty offenses and felonies. They are crimes that are punished with more stringent fines, or jail sentences that do not exceed one year. For example, simple assault is often a misdemeanor.
When someone commits a crime, he can be found guilty of a petty offense, a misdemeanor or a felony. Additionally, some crimes can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the state that the crime was committed in. When someone is found guilty of a felony, he receives a "felony judgment." Felony judgments carry with them significant repercussions, besides jail time.
Types of Crimes
Felonies are the most serious types of crimes. Each state decides the punishments for those convicted of felonies. Jail time is the most common punishment. Felonies are defined as any crime that results in jail time of more than one year, or the death penalty (in states where the death penalty is legal). Those tried for felonies have the constitutional right to have counsel appointed if they cannot afford representation.
Regardless of whether you are found guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony, the court order that results from the finding of guilt is called a "judgment." In felony cases, juries are used to find the facts and determine whether or not to find you guilty of the crimes for which you are charged. Felony judgments are also known as "felony convictions."
The consequences of felony convictions are severe. Those tried and convicted of felonies lose the right to vote. Generally, felons cannot hold public office or run for higher office. Felons are also disqualified from jury duty for a number of years set by the state government. Among other consequences, felons may lose their ability to carry firearms and lose professional licenses.
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