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La Plata & Waldorf Criminal Defense Lawyer
The Charles County Criminal Defense Firm Hablamos Español 301-259-3488

Different Types of Criminal Charges

In all of the states, criminal charges are classified into varying degrees of severity. For example, you may retain the services of a criminal attorney in La Plata to defend you against infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies. The more reprehensible the crime is considered to be, the more severe the potential penalties are. For example, a felony charge of manslaughter is handled quite differently than a speeding ticket. If you’re ever unsure of the nature of the charges against you, you can turn to your criminal lawyer for expert guidance.


Infractions are also known as violations. These are the least serious type of criminal charge. They do not result in jail time or probation, which means that if you’ve been charged with an infraction, you do not have the right to a jury trial. A common example of an infraction is a traffic ticket, such as a ticket for speeding or having an expired inspection sticker. Quite often, infractions are treated as civil offenses, rather than criminal offenses. You can expect to pay a fine to resolve the matter. However, you can still hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you before the judge if you wish to have the penalty reduced.


If charged with a misdemeanor, you should contact a criminal attorney promptly. If convicted, you could be facing up to a year in jail. You may also be sentenced to fines, community service, probation, and restitution, depending on the circumstances. The prosecution of misdemeanors often involves a trial by jury. Some examples of misdemeanor charges include petty theft, vandalism, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and simple assault.


The most serious type of criminal charge is a felony. Sometimes, a charge that would normally be prosecuted as a misdemeanor is prosecuted as a felony if the suspected offender has prior convictions. Felony criminal offenses are typically those that involve the threat of harm or the infliction of serious harm to victims, such as assault with a deadly weapon, murder, and rape. Felony crimes also include some non-violent offenses, such as fraud schemes. The penalties for a felony conviction can be quite severe and may range from a year or more in prison to life in prison without parole.

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