12/9/18 Classification of crimes
Crimes are generally classified depending on their degree of seriousness:
• Felonies: serious crimes punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year. Many states also define different degrees of felony offenses and vary the punishment according to the degree.
- First degree felonies: the defendant is sentenced to life imprisonment.
- Second degree felonies: the defendant serves a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment
- Third degree felonies: the defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of 5 years.
A capital offense is a criminal charge that is punishable by death penalty, and generally involves first degree felonies.
• Misdemeanors: less serious crimes, punishable by a fine or by confinement for up to a year. The person is called misdemeanant.
• In most jurisdictions, petty offenses are considered to be a subset of misdemeanors. They are minor violations, such as violations of building codes.