In criminal law, crimes can be augmented by their severity in that some crimes are more damaging to society and are considered elevated charges which may incur additional fines, jail time, or other consequences.
An infraction, the least serious form of crime, is also known as a ticket or fine. Infractions involve little to no time in court, and generally, don’t require jail sentencing unless the infraction is a repeat offense or serious enough to warrant this. Not paying a ticket or fine is one way to elevate the consequences of an infraction to jail time or more serious fees.
A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction, and these crimes usually are punishable by a fine of no more than $500.00 and six months in jail. Many times, the sentences will be served in parish jail rather than high-security prisons.
Felonies are the most serious type of crimes, being punishable by jail times greater than six months. Felonies are typically crimes that are perceived as the most damaging to society, such as murder, rape, burglary, kidnapping, and arson. Courtroom procedures are much more complicated in felony trials because the outcome is more grave than in a misdemeanor or infraction trial. Felony crime convictions also carry an elevated effect on civil liberties, meaning a convicted felon will completely lose their second amendment rights, their right to vote, their right to serve on a jury, as well as hold a public office in most jurisdictions.
A felony charge is no laughing matter, though there are steps that can be taken to reduce personal risk and prepare for the best possible outcome. Sometimes, crimes that are often considered felonies can be pleaded down to misdemeanor charges if the legal counsel can convince the judge or jury that the defendant is willing to comply with the demands of the sentencing and is an asset to the community within it rather than in jail.
The State of Louisiana also carries what is known as a habitual offender law or “three-strike law,” which elevates repeat misdemeanor crimes to those of felony consequences, or where repeat felony convicts will receive mandatory lifetime sentencing. Three strike laws carry very serious consequences for repeat offenders, so those with a prior criminal record will certainly want to seek expert counsel to understand their best measures for navigating the complex legal environment.
Criminal charges against you, whether for a misdemeanor or felony offenses, can result in jail time, fines, potential job loss, and a great amount of stress. Always seek the legal assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer to best understand your plan for defense and seek an outcome that minimizes risk to your life and loved ones. Call a Shreveport criminal defense lawyer at Greenwald Law Firm today for a free consultation of your legal matters.