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Criminal Law

Categories Of Criminal Conduct

Under federal law and most state statutes, a felony is a crime punishable by death or imprisonment for more than one year. Felonies are usually divided into several classes, grouped by perceived severity and applicable punishment. Misdemeanor offenses are less serious than felonies. They are generally punishable by nonpenitentiary confinement for less than one year, by imposition of a fine, or both imprisonment and fine. Petty offenses are typically crimes with potential imprisonment not to exceed six months, a fine of not more than $500, or both. If a violation of a statute provides only for the imposition of a fine, the law is called an infraction. Infractions, such as traffic and parking violations, are generally not considered part of criminal law.

Criminal conduct has traditionally been divided into two broad categories: crimes against the person and property crimes. Crimes against the person include murder, battery, assault, rape, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. Property crimes include larceny, arson, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and burglary, to name a few. Modern-day categories often group statutes according to: 1) those that affect public order, health, and morals; 2) offenses involving trade, business and professions; and 3) offenses against the family.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationGreat American Court CasesCriminal Law - Categories Of Criminal Conduct, Elements Of A Crime: Mens Rea And Actus Reus, Defenses