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What is considered a criminal offense?

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Quick Answer

About says there are three different types of criminal offenses: infractions, misdemeanors and felonies. Infractions do not require jail time. Misdemeanors sometimes require jail time of 12 months or less. Felonies are quite serious and require a greater amount of jail time.

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Full Answer

According to About, criminal offenses are broken down into personal or property crimes. Infractions, also known as petty crimes, generally only require the criminal to pay a fine. A court hearing is not always needed for infractions. Examples of infractions include traffic laws, school zone laws and parking illegally.

Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies and include such things as simple battery, possession of less than an ounce of an illegal drug and driving under the influence, says About.

Felonies are more serious crimes, such as murder, rape, aggravated battery or kidnapping, according to About. Armed robbery and grand theft are other felonies. Committing such felonies requires the criminal to spend time in jail, possibly even for the rest of his life. Those who aided in the committing of a felony, but did not actually commit the overall crime, are also likely to be charged with a felony as well. People convicted of felonies often lose their right to vote and bear arms and their civil rights. Capital crimes are felonies that are punishable by death.

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