Types of Criminal Laws

Types of Criminal Laws

Government develops statutes and everyone must abide by them. The laws may include public right, public privileges but it also includes the penalties and punishment for the individuals disobeying the statutes. These are formulated to regulate human behavior, promote morality, and stabilize society. Let’s look into the types of criminal laws.

Around the globe, the crime rate varies from state to state. So, different states have different laws and different policies to deal with criminals. The individuals charged with the act of offense confronts penalties and sentences depending upon the type and severity of the offense. 

Criminal law

Simple a crime is defined as an act that is unfavorably harmful and is against the statute. So Criminal law involves a set of principles that aims to regulate the allegations of the suspect and fixes penalties and sentences to the convicted criminals. These laws help to seek justice and protection. Criminal laws are applied to a wide range of crimes and are different for each. 

Types of criminal offenses 

Criminal laws are divided into three categories depending upon the genre of the crime. These are:

  1. Felony offenses
  2. Misdemeanor offenses
  3. Infraction offenses

Felony offenses

A felony offense is a type of criminal offense that involves very severe crimes. All the criminals who are convicted for felony offenses are assigned harsh sentences like life imprisonment and death.

Crimes under felony: Murder, manslaughter, burglary, assault, domestic violence, tax evasion, fraud, kidnapping, harassment, forgery, obstruction of justice, aggravated assault, and more.

Felony crime penalties

The offender charged with the allegation of a felony crime – a serious crime – is severely punished for the act of offense. The penalties vary from state to state. The penalties for felony crime are described as: 

  • Time in Prison –  As we know that all serious crimes lie in a felony. In general, felonies are punished for a longer period in prison, not in jail. They are taken to state prison where they reflect on their crimes. 
  • Period of incarceration – The period of imprisonment varies depending upon the severity of the crime. Felony sentences are for a longer time. In most states, felonies are defined as any crime that is more likely to have a period of incarceration of more than a year or up to life. Also in some states, the offenders with the charges of felony crime result in a sentence of death.
  • Consequences of conviction – A person who is declared to be a felony crime may confront certain consequences:
  • Loss of the right to vote 
  • Banned to work for a jury 
  • Revocation of professional licenses
  • Difficulty in obtaining a house 
  • Unemployment 
  • Social disconnection 

How States Classify Felony Crimes

How each felony offense is sentenced by different states is different. The 

approaches that are observed in some states are described as:

  1. Class or level approach 
  2. Crime by crime approach 
  3. Hybrid approach 
  4. Grid approach

Class or level approach 

Just like criminal offenses are divided into felony crimes and misdemeanor crimes based on severity, felony crimes are also subdivided on the basis of the seriousness of the act. The nature of crime and other circumstances decides the punishment of a crime. 

See also  Reasons Why You Should Use A Criminal Lawyer

Each subdivision has its sentence or length of incarceration. In some states, felony offenses are divided into Class A, B, C, D, or E crimes. So, the crimes are identified based on these classes. Once you are aware of the class, you can get familiarized with the possible sentence for that crime. So, you can have information about anything you need to know about that offense by referring to the statute that assigned the sentence for each class. Also, some states use numbers instead of letters. And some use the term level in place of class. So, all the information of that offense is present in that class or level. 

Crime by crime approach 

Some states, however, do not use the approach of class or levels. They simply assign a sentence to every felony offender, crime by crime. The statute of the crime defines the sentence for every felony crime. For instance, in California, each criminal statute states the length of incarceration that’s possible for that act of offense.

Hybrid Approach

Some states endorse a hybrid approach, using a class or level approach for most offenses and, for some crimes, specifying the punishment in the statute defining the crime. The hybrid approach classifies the crime as either first-, second-, or third-degree crimes or unclassified crimes. It is somehow similar to the previous ones in the way that to learn about the sentence for a specific first-degree crime, you would pay attention to the statute that states the nature of sentence and sentence range for all first-degree offenses. And when the crime is recognized as an unclassified crime, the details of the punishment will be right in the statute interpreting the act of offense. For instance, in Pennsylvania, felony crimes are either first-, second-, or third-degree crimes. 

Grid approach 

Very few states follow this complicated scheme. Instead of applying classes or levels approach, crime-by-crime approach, or hybrid approach some states have distinct sentencing designations. According to this approach, the severity of a particular crime and the criminal background of the offender is taken into account. This means that a crime that did not include atrocious facts, committed by a first-time offender, will be punished less severely. While when the same offense is committed maliciously by a repeat offender, the sentence will be severe.

Misdemeanor offense

A misdemeanor crime is a type of criminal offense that involves less severe crimes than felony crimes. The punishment for all the criminals who are convicted for Misdemeanour offenses includes fines, imprisonment in a local jail for less than a year, and loss of privileges. So, the maximum penalty possible for a misdemeanor criminal will be time in local jail in most of the states. And when the sentence of imprisonment rises i.e more than a year then the offense is no longer a misdemeanor but is defined as a felony offense. 

Crimes under Misdemeanour: public property destruction, harsh or reckless driving, drunken driving (in some cases), minor theft, minor assault, invading, vandalism, blackmailing, trespassing, and more.

Misdemeanor crime penalties

The offender charged with the allegation of a misdemeanor crime – a less serious crime – is less severely punished for the act of offense than a felony offense. The penalties vary from state to state. That is described as: 

  • Time in jail – As we know that generally, felonies are punished for a short period in jail. They are taken to the local jail where they reflect on their crimes.
  • Period of incarceration – The period of imprisonment varies depending upon the severity of the crime. Like it may be 3 months or maybe a year. In most states, felonies are defined as any crime that is more likely to have a period of incarceration of less than a year.
See also  5 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

How States Classify Misdemeanour offense

Most of the states classify misdemeanor offenses by ranking the more serious offenders into class A (or level 1), class B (or level 2), class C (or level 3) and this goes on. Some states use other words for each division, such as high or gross misdemeanor.

Depending on the genre and intensity of offense the punishments or penalties are assigned. That is why misdemeanors are ranked into classes or levels. For instance, a state might describe a misdemeanor as an offense punishable by a maximum of a year in local jail and subsequently categorize misdemeanors further into classes or levels. From class A to class B and all the successive classes/levels, the intensity or severity of crimes decreases and that’s why the punishment also decreases. In some states a class C misdemeanor might spend 3 months in jail, class B misdemeanors might spend 6 months of incarceration, and class A misdemeanors go up to a year in jail.

Some states do not rank their misdemeanors—they just assign a punishment according to the statute that best defines the act of offense.

Infractions offense

Infractions crime is a type of criminal offense that involves minor crimes. Infractions are also called violations because only small offenses are included in this category. The punishment is usually fine only. These offenses have a very low possibility of incarceration. Crimes under infraction include traffic tickets or violating basic rules, etc.

Criminal lawyers 

Criminal lawyers or criminal attorneys are specialized in dealing with offense allegations. Criminal lawyers may work privately, or they may be working under non-profit agencies. Some governments also allocate criminal lawyers as public defense lawyers. It is very helpful to have a criminal defense lawyer by your side. It is because an expert and experienced criminal lawyer has great knowledge about the statute. They also know that there are many possible ways to clear their client’s names. Long Beah Criminal Lawyer also provide a free consultation about the cases an individual is dealing with. There are cases when an individual is falsely accused or misunderstood, criminal lawyers are really helpful to take you out of such circumstances. 


In a nutshell, the enforcement of laws is really important. If an individual doesn’t practice law and performs an act of crime he will have to go through all the legal procedures. Avoiding such situations can save a lot of time, respect, and effort. Criminal lawyers aim to defend the individuals charged with a crime. So, it is better to maintain distance with any of such activities.