The world of law is as vast as it is intricate. That’s why legal professionals spend years upon years learning the law and putting them into practice. Unfortunately, these kinds of teachings are not part of the primary, secondary, or tertiary education curricula, with the only exception being for people who went to law school.
Even if some parts of the constitution are accessible to the public via the internet, it would take some level of skill and knowledge to comprehend what these provisions mean. This learning gap is exactly why many adults fail to notice when they are on the verge of breaking the law, which they aren’t familiar with.
The law is part of people’s everyday lives, yet it’s the one field of conversation that is never touched upon before it’s needed. That’s why so many people walking around are oblivious to the fact that they’re potentially committing a criminal offense, or at least, are taking part in them.
Of course, most people have the option to go out of their way to learn about the law they’re adhering to. But not everyone has the luxury of time or the ability to understand the legalese — the legal vocabulary — on their own. If they were to violate the law at some point, their best bet will be to hire legal representation.
So, if you belong to a population of people who lack a basic understanding of the law, there’s no harm in wanting to educate yourself. In fact, to get you started on the right path, here’s a crash course on the criminal offenses and their corresponding consequences. The criminal charges are divided into three main categories, namely:
Among the three criminal offense categories, infractions are considered the least serious type of offense. It’s because of this that infractions are commonly known as petty offenses, which pertain to violations that won’t appear on a criminal record.
As such, these crimes are characterized by little to no jail or court time and with a minimal payment of fines. The most common types of infractions are getting a traffic ticket, trespassing, littering, or disturbing the peace. Although these are considered petty crimes, they can become more serious when left unaddressed.
The second category of criminal offenses is called misdemeanors, and they are considered more serious than infractions, but less serious than felonies. Misdemeanors are crimes punishable with jail time of no more than a year, and people who are charged with these offenses serve in local county jails instead of high-security prisons.
Common misdemeanors include driving under the influence (DUI), shoplifting, minor assault, drug possession, vandalism, or resisting arrest. There different classifications of misdemeanors, which result in varying levels of punishment and an appearance on an individual’s criminal record.
If you were charged with a misdemeanor like DUI, for instance, then you would need a competent DUI lawyer who can put your best interests at heart. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your attorney can make the charge disappear, but they can appropriately guide you through the process so that the situation won’t worsen or lead to more serious consequences.
The last and most serious category of criminal offenses is called felonies. These are often characterized as crimes punishable by death or federal imprisonment for more than 12 months to life. A person charged with a felony must undergo a criminal procedure in court and will face a jury.
Crimes that are considered felonies include murder, rape, kidnapping, arson, assault, battery, and domestic or child abuse, among others. As such, these are viewed severely by society and can lead to revocation of rights like the right to vote, carry a gun, and serve in office or a jury.
Most criminal offenses require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which means that all defendants are presumed as innocent until proven guilty under the American legal system. Individuals charged with a felony can stand trial by jury, in which the jurors must come to a unanimous decision to make a conviction.
Being arrested for an offense you don’t know you’re making can be a terrifying experience, especially if you are unfamiliar with the law. If you find yourself in such situations, you must not resist an arrest because it may lead to a more serious crime.
Keep in mind that anything you say or do can be used against you in the court of law, so it will be better to stay quiet and do as you’re told even if it’s frightening. But don’t forget that you have the right to get yourself legal representation and fight for your innocence.