Varying Degrees of Crimes:

     This page is continued from Criminal Law Self-Help >>>> Classifications of Various Laws and Offenses:


degree of crime:

1. A division or classification of a single crime into several grades of guilt, according to the circumstances surrounding the crime’s commission, such as aggravating factors present or the type of injury suffered.

2. A division of crimes generally, such as felonies or misdemeanors.

felony – a serious crime usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death. (i.e. burglary, arson, rape, murder, treason, robbery, larceny). — aka major crime; serious crime.

misdemeanor – a crime less serious than a felony, usually punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture, or confinement (usually a brief term) in jail (rather than prison). — aka minor crime; summary offense.

infraction – a violation, usually of a rule, regulation, or local ordinance, not punishable by incarceration.

offense – synonymous with “crime.” — aka criminal offense.

  • bailable offense – a criminal charge for which a defendant may be released from custody after providing proper security.
  • indictable offense – a crime that can be prosecuted by indictment, usually only felonies or serious misdemeanors.
  • substantive offense – a crime that is complete in itself and not dependent on another crime for one of its elements.

graded offense:

1. A crime that is divided into various degrees of severity with corresponding levels of punishment, such as murder (first-degree and second-degree) or assault (simple and aggravated).

simple – (of a crime) not accompanied by aggravating circumstances.

aggravated – makes a crime more serious due to violence, the presence of a deadly weapon, or intent to commit another crime.


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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