There are many different actions that fall under the definition of a criminal offense. While some crimes are easy to identify, others are not immediately obvious, so a lot of folks end up breaking the rules without even knowing.
Each state has its own set of rules, not to mention federal laws that need to be respected in all 50 states. With this in mind, these legal systems can be complex and extremely difficult to navigate.
So learning about the different types of crimes can help you avoid any legal issues in the future.
Having a legal advisor on your side can not only help identify the cause of the problem and find a solution that allows you to return to your routine without any interruptions.
In this article, we’ll go over the importance of maintaining a clean record and discuss the different types of criminal charges as well as the potential punishments they bring.
Why Should You Avoid Having a Criminal Record?
A criminal record is the official summary and description of a person’s past contacts with law enforcement entities. This includes convictions, sentences, dismissals, arrests, not guilty verdicts, parole violations, and other details pertaining to a specific individual. It also includes a physical description and the types of criminal charges that a person has been charged with.
Criminal records are public, so they are used to verify if a person is suitable for an array of different transactions, programs, and applications. These include employment, identification, background checks, financial requests, security clearance, adoption, license applications, visas, and other purposes. For this reason, people who lack a criminal record are more likely to get a positive result when they are trying to achieve their goals.
Criminal Record Databases Explained
Before going over the different crime types, it’s important to understand how criminal record databases work. There are different law enforcement agencies, for instance, highway patrol and local police departments, most of which have their own criminal database.
That said, these agencies usually share this information, which is also available to the public. What’s more, the federal government maintains a backup of all criminal databases that allow each agency to double-check their records and search for additional offenses committed by a person.
Comparing Infractions, Misdemeanors, and Felonies
State crimes can be classified as infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies, according to their seriousness. The main difference between the three is the severity of the punishment associated with each one.
Infractions are the least severe type of crime you can commit. Although they are illegal, these crimes consist of petty offenses like littering or parking tickets and usually require payment of a fine.
In most States, infractions don’t appear on your criminal record but may still require an appearance in court depending on the specific crime. Furthermore, if left unattended, these small crimes can turn into more serious issues.
Misdemeanors are offenses that are more serious than infractions but don’t usually carry more than one year of potential jail time. Depending on the type of misdemeanor, some may only require payment of a fine while others can result in time served at a local county jail.
Felonies are serious crimes that almost always accompanied by time in jail or prison. While felonies are not uniform in all States, they can bring serious punishment like decades in jail and even the death penalty. Since the punishment for felonies can be severe, they usually require extensive criminal procedures that are strictly supervised to ensure the defendant’s rights are protected at all times.
What are the Different Types of Crimes in the US?
Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies are the broadest categorizations of crimes in the US. That said, these can be further broken down into five types of offenses that cover almost all crimes a person can commit, depending on the State’s legislation.
These five types of offenses are:
Inchoate crimes are offenses that were started, but not completed for any reason. These offenses are usually pursued to help in the investigation of another crime. Inchoate offenses require more than just intent, so a person needs to take a significant step towards completing the action in order to get charged in these cases.
Some examples of inchoate crimes include:
- Aiding and abetting
Property crimes are those that deal with damage or interference with another person’s property. This type of crime may also cause physical or mental harm to others, but the main outcome is damage or the inability to use a specific piece of property.
The list of property crimes is long and it includes offenses like:
- Theft crimes
- Auto theft
As the name suggests, personal crimes are those that physically or mentally harm another person or group of people. These are further divided into homicides and violent crimes, both of which include crimes like:
- Assault and battery
- First-degree murder
- Domestic abuse
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Vehicular homicide
Statutory crimes are those defined by statute, which are the statements or laws that specifically dictate the behaviors, punishments, and other details that define an illegal offense. These statutes are creating to help society and deter people from engaging in behavior that can put themselves and the people around them at risk.
These types of crimes include:
- Boating under the influence (BUI)
- Open container violations
- Supplying alcohol to minors
- Public intoxication
Financial Crimes and Other Offenses
Depending on the state, financial crimes may be classified as statutory or have a category of their own. In either case, these offenses include deceptive and fraudulent activities that are pursued for financial gain, for instance:
- Money laundering
- Tax evasion
There are also other types of criminal charges that are not as common as the ones listed above. If you or a loved one is being accused of a type of crime that is not on our list, get in touch with our team of legal advisors and we’ll be happy to help.
Find an Experienced Law Firm You Can Trust
Even when committed unintentionally, criminal offenses can result in a lot of legal trouble, especially if you attempt to ignore infractions and other small issues. That said, understanding the different types of crimes can help you avoid these problems and allow you to identify scenarios where you need assistance.
If you need to find a reliable attorney to help you understand and handle different types of legal issues, get in touch with us and our team will be glad to help.