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Infraction, Misdemeanor, and Felony – Spotting the differences

Whenever you say or read that someone has committed a crime, it is not entirely correct. Crime is an umbrella term, under which comes three prime categories – Infractions, Misdemeanors, and Felonies. Your punishment, fine, and jail sentence depends on whether your crime is an infraction, misdemeanour, or felony. Sometimes, this power rests in the hand of the prosecutor. Further in the article, you will learn about the infraction, misdemeanours, and felonies under the law of California and their grounds of differences. Note that there are laws called wobbler laws, where a judge has the sole power to treat a crime as an infraction, misdemeanour, or felony.


It is probably one of the least serious crimes. Simply put, an infraction is disobeying any rule, law, or ordinance. There is seldom any jail or court time for committing it, and neither it goes on your record. Generally, all you have to do is pay the fine, and you are good to go. But under federal law, an infraction can lead to a jail sentence of up to five days, but no more than that.

What generally happens is if a police person watches you committing an infraction, they will come to you and give you a ticket. If you pay for it, the charges go away. If you do not address it, things can go sideways.

The infraction itself has classes like moving, non-moving, and petty offences. The amount of fines and other penalties depends on its severity. Traffic violations are the most widely known form of infraction. Other examples are – littering, trespassing, etc.


Misdemeanours are stricter than infractions. The minimum prison sentence in a misdemeanour is five days, which is highest in the case of an infraction. It can extend up to a year, depending on the class of misdemeanour of your case. The federal sentencing guide divides the jail sentence in misdemeanours into three categories-

  1. Class A– Six months – up to 1 year
  2. Class B – Thirty days – six months
  3. Class C – Five days – thirty days

The accused has to serve a sentence in county jail rather than a state prison. If there are several cases of misdemeanour against you, then their sentences are also added together. So, you may spend more time in jail in that case. The prosecutors can negotiate the terms and the charges against you and offer bargains.


It is the most severe type of crime. The state of California describes it as a crime that can lead to the death penalty, a state prison sentence, and in special conditions, a county jail sentence. Just like a misdemeanour, felonies are also further categorized into five classes-

  1. Class A- Life incarceration or the death penalty
  2. Class B- More than 25 years
  3. Class C- Between 10 and 25 years
  4. Class D- Between 5 and 10 years
  5. Class E- Between 1 and 5 years

A wide range of offences, like rape, murder, kidnapping, etc., is considered a felony. Since some felonies are bailable, so one might get a chance to prove himself innocent.

If you or your loved one is at Rancho Cucamonga jail and looking for bail, bail bond agents can help to get your loved one out of jail. You can look for them online by searching “bail bonds Rancho Cucamonga” and ask for legal help in bail.

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