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Categories Of Crimes And Sentencing

More serious crimes in our society result in more serious sentences. Crimes are classified according to the level of punishment allowed. All crimes have sentencing guidelines set by law. Sometimes these sentencing guidelines allow the court significant discretion in setting the sentence. Many factors, including the criminal record of the defendant, the severity of the crime, whether multiple crimes are involved, and the remorse of the defendant can affect sentencing. There are three basic categories of crimes: felonies, misdemeanors, and minor offenses.

Felonies are generally defined as crimes punishable by a period of incarceration of a year or more. These are the crimes regarded by society as more severe. Substantial fines may also be part of the punishment. Common examples of felonies are crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping, arson and robbery. Felonies also carry consequences after incarceration. For example, in some jurisdictions, a felony conviction can limit the right to vote, own a firearm, serve on a jury, and to obtain certain professional licenses. In those states, including Michigan, that have “three strikes” laws, only felony convictions count as “strikes.”

Misdemeanors are less severe crimes. They are generally defined as crimes punishable by a period of incarceration of less than a year. Often a defendant charged with a misdemeanor will only have to pay a fine and will not serve time in jail. Crimes such as vandalism, trespassing and public intoxication are common misdemeanors. Misdemeanors typically have fewer long-term consequences than felonies.

Minor offenses are also known as petty offenses or civil infractions. These are often based on local ordinances and are different from misdemeanors in that they do not carry the possibility of jail time. Minor offenses usually result in a ticket and a fine. The most common example of a minor offense is a parking ticket.

If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, you should consult with an attorney right away. An experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney can make a tremendous impact on your case. At Grabel & Associates, we will work at all stages of your case to obtain the most favorable outcome possible. Call us today for a free confidential consultation at (800) 342-7896.


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