Does the penalty for misdemeanor differ from that of a felony?

The criminal justice system can be overwhelming for most people who find themselves facing criminal charges for the first time-in fact, with so many classifications and degrees of crimes, even someone familiar with one aspect of the law can be daunted by the criminal legal system. Understanding some basic legal jargon can go a long help Massachusetts' residents figure out what legal options they want to avail.

An infraction is a crime that is considered the least serious-it is usually dealt with on the stop. For example, a police officer may see someone who is doing something illegal and the police officer will write the ticket and then go on. They involve very little if any time in court-usually it involves paying a fine. The most common type of infractions one may have heard of is parking tickets.

More serious than infractions, a misdemeanor involves a punishment of up to one year in jail. This demonstrates that they are considered more seriously than infractions. It may be possible to do the prison time in a county jail rather than a high security one.

A felony is the most serious of crimes, categorized by the fact that they are punished by a prison sentence of more than one year. These crimes are considered especially bad from society's point of view, such as murder, rape or burglary and therefore carry heavier sentences. Since the penalty is so high, courtroom procedure must be followed strictly to ensure that the accused's rights are not infringed.

A prosecutor generally has some leeway when determining which crimes to charge someone with and what punishment to push for. Therefore, it may be beneficial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss legal options and perhaps alternatives to litigation.

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