The US legal system has three categories of criminal offenses:

Felonies; Misdemeanors and Infractions.

Felony: A serious crime, characterized under federal law and many state statutes as any offense punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year.

Misdemeanor: Offenses lower than felonies and generally those punishable by fine, penalty, Forfeiture, or imprisonment other than in a penitentiary. Under federal law, and most state laws, any offense other than a felony is classified as a misdemeanor. Certain states also have various classes of misdemeanors (e.g., Class A, B, etc.).


Infractions: Violation or infringement; breach of a statute, contract, or obligation. The term infraction is frequently used in reference to the violation of a particular statute for which the penalty is minor, such as a parking infraction.

The distinction between a felony and misdemeanor:  In the United States, the federal government generally considers a crime punishable with incarceration for one year or less to be a misdemeanor.aph here.

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