These are the 3 main categories of crime under criminal law

Different jurisdictions have different classifications of what they term as crimes that are punishable by law. In this post we are going to focus on criminal law and what are considered as punishable offences under this law. As we had established in one of our previous articles, criminal law will basically deal with what can be considered as an act of causing intentional harm to an individual or his/her property, or when a duty bearer fails to honor his/her duty of protecting other people from harm.

In most cases, a person found guilty of a criminal offence will most likely have to forfeit a number of theirindividual rights and freedoms such as freedom of movement or the right not to be imprisoned because most criminal offences carry a jail time penalty.

Here are the 3 main categories of crime under criminal law.


A felony is the most serious category of criminal offenses. Such offenses are usually punishable by hefty fines or will carry a prison sentence of more than one year. When these offences involve immigrants, they will be sufficient grounds for deportation.Felony crimes include but are not limited to terrorism, kidnaping or abduction, rape, arson and robbery.  In most states in America, felonies carry what is referred to as the three-strike lawthat essentially stipulates for an automatic life sentence for any individual who gets imprisoned on felony charges three times.


A misdemeanor ranks second in terms of serious criminal offences and is also punishable through a fine or imprisonment at a local county jail. These types of crimes are typically referred to as crimes of immorality and will include but are not limited to aggravated assault, theft, deception, gross indecency, and stalking. The danger of getting a misdemeanor conviction is that it will seriously damage your chances of securing a good job.


An infraction which is commonly referred to as a petty offense is basically the violation of an ordinance, a municipal code or an administrative regulation. Such offences will only be punishable by a fine and don’t carry any jail time. In the event a jail time is prescribed, it will only be for a very limited time period. Infractions include crimes such as DUI, petty theft, and disorderly conduct, among others.

Generally, these different categories of criminal offences are not only differentiated by the level of severity in the punishment they carry but also in the way in which they are prosecuted. The severity of punishment may also vary depending on the state in which the crime was committed as well as whether the person being charged is a repeat or first time offender.