Wisconsin residents may wave off criminal charges that do not sound serious without realizing how it can stay on their record and come back to haunt them at different stages of their life. Understanding the different categories of criminal charges can help someone being accused of them grasp how the court is going to treat them and how seriously they should be treated.

Generally, the categories differ from one another in how much jail time could be meted out. As mentioned in last week’s post, a traffic ticket could be considered an infraction. This is generally the least serious of the crimes one could be charged with and if dealt with timely, the person who received the ticket just has to pay a fine. Though generally they can be resolved with little to no court time and no jail time at all, if left unaddressed the penalties can become steep.

A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction and is usually punishable by up to a year in jail. Prosecutors have flexibility when it comes to deciding what to charge, the plea bargains to negotiate and how to punish them. The most serious type of crime is a felony, and these types of crimes can be punishable by a prison sentence of more than a year. Not only are these crimes taken seriously by the court, they are also viewed severely by society. As a result, crimes such as burglary and kidnapping are considered felonies and are punished by serious jail time.

Fighting against criminal charges is an important step to take for those who are facing them. Establishing a strong criminal defense from the onset can help accused individuals keep a clean record and not face the stigma and economic consequences that a criminal conviction can lead to.