Law Information

Infraction vs Misdemeanor: How Are They Different?

By March 10, 2019 No Comments
infraction vs misdemeanor

You have been issued a ticket for speeding and running a stop sign.

You know you are in some trouble. But how much? What will the consequences be?

First, you must know how the ticket will be classified in your state?

Of course, this ticket is not a felony. Felony offenses are much more serious crimes. You’ve done something foolish, but you know it isn’t a felony.

Will this ticket go on your record as a misdemeanor or infraction? If you don’t know the difference, it is time to figure it out. Infraction vs misdemeanor, what’s the difference?

Infractions and Misdemeanor, What are They?

In the classification of offenses, an infraction is the least serious. It is considered less serious than a misdemeanor.

Some examples of infractions include:

  • driving violations
  • dog violations
  • littering
  • hunting or camping without a license

Infractions can also be named as violations or citations. They’ll resolve quickly in the courts, usually with one to three court appearances. 

Misdemeanors are more serious than infractions. They are less serious than a felony. 80% of the convictions within the U.S. are one of three types of misdemeanors.

Because misdemeanors cover such a wide range of offenses, they are broken into three classes.

The depth of the consequences of the misdemeanor is connected to the class.

Infractions vs. Misdemeanors, What are the Consequences

Infractions are lesser offenses and thus carry smaller consequences. They usually result in a fine issued by the court. No jail time can come from an initial infraction.

Misdemeanors can be punishable with up to a year of jail time. They can carry a fine of up to $4,000. Because there is a wide range of misdemeanors, punishments can include any of the following:

  • fines and/or restitution
  • probation
  • community service
  • jail time

Misdemeanors are also considered criminal. If convicted, you will have a criminal record. 

Infraction Vs Misdemeanor, How are They Handled in the Courts?

With an infraction, you can hire an attorney to represent you. Infractions do not result in jail time. So, no prosecutors are involved. Thus, the government will not provide an attorney if you can’t get one for yourself. 

If you are being accused of a misdemeanor, you do need legal representation. For many lesser misdemeanors, an attorney may be able to get the charges reduced.  Charges could go from misdemeanor to infraction.

If this happens jail time and a criminal record could be avoided. 

Another significant difference between an infraction vs misdemeanor is the long term effects.  A driving infraction may result in adding points to your license. Otherwise, there are limited long term consequences for infractions because there is no criminal record.

That cannot be said for a misdemeanor.

Potential long term effects are much greater for a misdemeanor. Long term effects might include:

  • inability to get a student loan
  • limit employability
  • reduced opportunity to get car/home loans

Get the Advice You Need

Understanding the difference in an infraction vs misdemeanor is important if you have been accused of a crime. Do you need legal advice? 

Because a misdemeanor can have a lasting impact on you in the future, it is important to get an attorney to help. 

Contact us today to get an appointment. Get the advice you need.