Criminal Charge vs. Civil Infraction

In some cases, an individual may be charged with a civil infraction, which is not a criminal charge. A typical case of civil infraction will be decided by a judge, without the involvement of a jury, and the proceeding is usually brief. Similarly, some types of petty offenses may be tried by a judge, without the involvement of a jury.

When a person needs to determine whether he or she has been charged with a civil infraction or a criminal offense, it is best to consult with a criminal defense attorney. Contact our Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorneys for any answers on a criminal charge that your or a loved one may be facing.

Misdemeanor and Felony

A midemeanor is treated as a criminal offense, and if an individual is convicted of a misdemeanor, it will usually result in a criminal record. In a technical sense, a misdemeanor is a relatively less serious offense. However, the consequences in case of conviction can be quite harsh. Potential punishments for misdemeanors may include a fine, probation, imprisonment, and/or driver’s license sanction.

If the misdemeanor is classified as a sex related crime, the convict may be registered as a sex offender. He or she may be required to keep the local police informed of the residence address for the rest of life. A felony is the most serious type of criminal offense. Major criminal offenses such as sexual assault, murder, treason, arson, embezzlement, robbery and burglary are felonies.

Crime vs. Civil Infraction

If an individual is charged by the state, it is important to determine whether it is a charge of civil infraction or a criminal offense. Typical civil infractions may include driving violations such as failure to yield or over-speeding. However, a traffic misdemeanor such as driving an uninsured vehicle or driving with an invalid number plate is a criminal offense, which will lead to a criminal record for the offender.

In case of a civil infraction involving driving, it is usually not necessary to go to court, and the fine can be paid by postal mail. However, a traffic misdemeanor charge will usually require the offender to appear in court.

Rights in the Case of a Felony or a Misdemeanor

A defendant who is facing misdemeanor charges usually has fewer legal rights compared to a defendant facing a charge of felony. If the conviction is not going to result in an imprisonment, the defendant will not have a right to be represented by an attorney. The defendant also does not have a right to a preliminary examination to assess the basis of the filing of charges.

Misdemeanor charges in some states are tried before six member juries, while felonies are usually tried before twelve member juries. Other rights in case of both misdemeanors and felonies are mostly the same.

Receiving a criminal charges will have a drastic effect on an individuals permanent record. If you have just been arrested in Fort Lauderdale and now face criminal charges it is important to seek legal representation from a Broward Criminal Defense Lawyer. Contact Fort Lauderdale William Moore Criminal Defense for legal answers and available representation. The criminal defense attorneys at The William Moore Law Firm have years of knowledge and experience in defending individuals facing criminal charges in Broward County.