Criminal charges are the accusations made by the government either state or local against an individual for breaking the law. They can involve minor crimes, such as traffic violations, or more serious offenses, like murder or aggravated assault.
Depending on the jurisdiction, criminal charges can fall into two main categories: misdemeanors (a less serious crime than an infraction but still punishable by law enforcement), and felonies (the most serious crimes).
This guide will teach you about the different types of criminal charges, which can help you understand what kind of punishment a person could face and why it is important for everyone involved in a legal case.
This first section is about different types of criminal charges that are called felonies. A felony is a crime that’s considered more serious than a misdemeanor, and it usually results in jail time upon conviction.
A first-degree felony is the most serious crime and usually applies to more severe offenses. Its penalties can be harsher than those for lower-level felonies, meaning you could receive a longer prison sentence, pay a lot of money in fines, or a combination of other severe consequences which include probation, house arrest, or even capital punishment.
There are different punishments for a conviction based upon the defendant’s prior criminal history, state or federal sentencing guidelines, race, and victim statements. Common examples of felony offenses include:
- Aggravated assault
- Drug trafficking
- White collar crimes
A first-degree felony is one of the most serious crimes and can have a big impact on both the person who was accused and the victim.
Felony crimes are less serious than major offenses like first-degree felonies, but they still have a lot of consequences if you are convicted. These penalties usually involve violence, theft, or drug charges.
Here are some examples of crimes that fall into the second degree:
- Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
- Robbery with a weapon
- Human trafficking
- Aggravated battery
- Burglary with assault or battery
- Felony DUI
- Selling a controlled substance with the intent to possess it
There are different penalties for second-degree felonies depending on where you live, but they can include prison sentences of up to 15 years, a lot of money in fines, and other legal consequences. This means that your criminal record will have a big impact on your life long after the court case is over.
Third-degree felonies are less serious crimes than first and second-degree felonies, but they still have consequences. These offenses typically involve lower levels of violence, theft that is not as valuable, and drug-related offenses.
Third-degree felonies are some examples of crimes that can be punishable by jail time.
- Aggravated stalking
- Battery on a law enforcement officer
- Possession of a firearm by someone who has been convicted of a felony.
- Grand theft
- Fraudulent use of a credit card
- Possession of a controlled substance
- DUI causing serious bodily injury
The penalties for a third-degree felony can vary by place, but they usually include prison time of up to 5 years, hefty fines, and other legal consequences.
The Sentencing For Felonies.
The punishments for felonies can vary depending on the severity of the offense and the jurisdiction in which the crime was committed. In general, felonies are considered to be more serious crimes than misdemeanors and carry more severe penalties.
Some common punishments for felonies include jail time, fines, and community service.
- Prison: People who commit felonies usually have to spend at least a year in prison, and some can end up serving much longer sentences if they are convicted of more serious crimes. Some offenses may result in life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
- Fines can range in amount and be substantial.
- Sometimes felons get sentenced to probation instead of prison. During this time, they must follow certain conditions set by the court, such as having regular check-ins with a probation officer. They can not do anything that would violate their parole or probation agreement.
- If you are convicted of a crime, you may lose certain civil rights, such as the right to vote or own a gun. This depends on your location and what kind of crime you were convicted of.
- In cases where someone has been hurt financially as a result of an offense, the court may order the person who did it to pay them back.
It’s important to note that the punishments for felonies can vary a lot depending on where you are and what kind of crime you have been convicted of. Some people may experience long-term negative consequences, such as having their digital reputation damaged or being viewed negatively by others.
A misdemeanor is defined as:
This law states that someone can be punished by a fine and/or jail time for up to one year for doing something that is not as serious as other crimes.
A misdemeanor is a less serious crime than a felony, but it still has consequences. A conviction can lead to imprisonment, fines, and loss of rights. It may also make it harder for you to find work or housing.
Here is a list of different types of misdemeanors, based on how severe they are:
Misdemeanors like first-degree misdemeanors are less serious crimes than felonies, but they are more serious than second or third degree misdemeanors. These offenses can usually result in a year of jail time, fines, or both.
Here are some examples of misdemeanors that come under the category of first degree:
- Simple assault
- Theft or shoplifting of items worth less than a certain value.
- Criminal mischief
- DUI without bodily harm or property damage.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia can lead to criminal charges.
- Reckless driving
- Disorderly conduct
- Resisting arrest without violence
It’s important to know that the specific charges and penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor can differ by place.
Second-degree misdemeanors come with less severe consequences than first-degree misdemeanors, but they still carry significant legal penalties. These offenses can usually result in up to 60 days in jail, fines, or both.
Here are some examples of misdemeanors that fall within the second degree:
- Simple assault.
- Disorderly Conduct
- Public Intoxication
- Theft (of anything under a certain value) is petty theft.
- Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana depending on the state
- Trespassing on private property
- Harassment or stalking
- Driving with a suspended license
- Resisting arrest without resorting to violence
In some places, second-degree misdemeanors involve specific elements and penalties.
Third-degree misdemeanors are the least serious category of criminal offenses and are typically considered to be minor violations of the law. These offenses are typically punishable by fines and up to 60 days in jail, if incarceration is imposed.
Here are some examples of misdemeanors that fall into the third degree.
- Disorderly conduct (such as loud or disruptive behavior) will not be tolerated.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Loitering or prowling
- Minor traffic offenses (ex: driving without a license or registration)
- Minor in possession of alcohol
- Harassment or simple stalking
- Damage to property (under a certain value)
These crimes are usually considered to be minor and involve activities that don’t typically lead to violence or serious crime.
Penalties for Misdemeanors.
Depending on the severity of the crime and where it was committed, misdemeanors may be considered less serious offenses than felonies. This means that they usually have lighter punishments.
Some common punishments for misdemeanors include fines, jail time, and suspension from school.
- Jail time: People who commit misdemeanors typically have to spend a year in jail, although some places give people shorter sentences or don’t put them in jail at all.
- Fines can be paid by convicted misdemeanor offenders, who may have to pay a few hundred dollars up to several thousand depending on the crime and jurisdiction.
- If you are found guilty of a crime, the court may let you serve your sentence instead of going to jail. During probation, you will have to obey certain conditions set by the court, such as visiting a probation officer regularly or not being around people or places that could cause trouble for you.
- Some people who are convicted of misdemeanors may have to do community service as part of their punishment.
- If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you may lose some civil rights, such as the right to vote or own a firearm.
It’s important to know that the punishment for a misdemeanor can be different in different places, depending on the situation.
Important Points To Remember
- Felonies are the most serious type of crime and can involve serious criminal activity. They often lead to long prison sentences and large fines.
- Misdemeanors are less serious crimes than felonies, but they still carry a lot of legal consequences. These offenses usually involve activities that aren’t violent or major and can result in fines and shorter jail sentences.
- Infractions are the least serious type of criminal charge and typically involve minor violations of the law, like driving without a license or littering. Fines may be imposed for these offenses, but there is no record created as a result.
It’s important to know that criminal charges and their penalties can vary by location (local, state, or federal), as well as the implications of having any type of crime on your record. It is also essential to be aware that even small crimes can have big consequences when it comes to how people perceive you in general, or as a business owner.
If you’ve been convicted of a crime, it may be important to get help from an online reputation management team. These specialists have strategies and tools that can help rebuild your reputation after a criminal record is public. With their help, you will be able to restore the standing you once had in society.
What if someone doesn’t know the law and commits a crime?
If someone unknowingly commits a crime, they can still held accountable for their actions. Ignorance of the law is not considered a valid defense in the United States. The principle “ignorantia legis neminem excusat” (ignorance of the law excuses no one) exemplifies this.
There are some instances where specific knowledge or intent to commit a crime may be a factor in determining guilt or innocence. This is known as “mens rea” (criminal intent). In such cases, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the requisite intent to commit the crime, depending on the types of criminal charges presented during a trial.
Possible other consequences might result from committing a crime?
Some of the consequences of committing a crime include:
- A person may be placed on probation instead of going to prison. This means they will have conditions set by a court, such as meeting with a probation officer regularly, completing counseling or community service, or not committing any new crimes while under supervision.
- Community service: This requires the person to do unpaid work for a set number of hours, benefiting either the community or an organization that has been chosen by the court.
- Restitution: If someone has caused damage or losses to another person, the offender may be required to pay for those damages. This could include money that is needed to fix property damage or cover medical expenses.
- Rehabilitation programs can help offenders who have committed crimes by addressing the reasons behind their actions, such as drug or alcohol treatment, anger management counseling, or mental health services.
- House arrest can involve being confined to your home for a set period of time or during certain hours, and may be monitored using electronic devices.
- If someone commits a crime that makes their driving privileges illegal, like DUI or Driving-Related Crimes, their driver’s license may be suspended or revoked.
- Restraining orders: People who have been accused of a crime may be prevented from contacting or being near other people involved in the case, such as victims or potential witnesses.
- If someone commits a crime, their professional license may be taken away. This could make it difficult for them to work in their chosen profession.
- If you are a non-citizen and have been convicted of certain crimes, your immigration status may change. This could mean that you will be deported or prevented from becoming
- People who have been convicted of a crime may lose some rights, such as the right to vote or own guns.
The consequences someone receives after being convicted of a crime can vary depending on where they are, the severity of their crime, and whether or not they have criminal history.
A criminal conviction can damage your online reputation, potentially preventing you from getting jobs or housing, accessing financial services, or having good relationships.
Alex Adekola is a thought leader in the reputation management industry who has targeted mugshot publishers since 2012. Alex Adekola is the longest-serving reputation and crisis management strategist and has written a book on mugshot removal. He is the creator and director of strategy at RemoveMyMugshot.org