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Know the Lingo: Felony, Misdemeanor, Offense, and Infraction

Posted on in Criminal Defense

legal term meanings, Stamford criminal defense lawyerThe terminology used in the criminal justice system can be confusing, especially if you have been charged with a crime and need to understand exactly what the charges are. Here are some of the basic terms and their definitions under the law.

Felony

A felony is defined by Connecticut law as an offense for which someone may be imprisoned for over one year. Felonies are generally classified as A, B, C, or D, depending on the length of sentence, with Class A being the most serious offenses with the longest sentences. Felonies include murder, sexual assault, and certain robbery and larceny charges.

Misdemeanor

A misdemeanor is defined as any offense for which someone may be imprisoned for up to one year. Like felonies, misdemeanors are generally classified as A, B, C, or D, and Class A misdemeanors are subject to the longest sentences of up to one year. Misdemeanors include criminal trespass, violation of a protective order, breach of peace, and certain criminal mischief.

Offense

Under Connecticut law, an offense is any crime or violation that breaks any state, federal, or local law or town or city ordinance, and for which imprisonment and/or a fine may be imposed. Exceptions are certain motor vehicle violations and deemed infractions. The term “crime” means felonies and misdemeanors, and if an offense is not a crime, it is called a violation.

Infraction

Connecticut law defines infraction as a breach of state law or regulation or local ordinance for which a court appearance is not required. Payment of a fine for an infraction may be made either by mail or in person. An infraction is not a crime and it is not an offense. Some good examples of infractions are speeding and other common motor vehicle infractions. Violations and infractions carry only civil penalties and do not give you a criminal record.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or offense in Connecticut, it is important to have an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney at your side who knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. Call the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner today at 203-348-5846