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3 Different Ways in Which Crimes are Classified in Different States

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David Hucks
David Hucks
David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at

The classification of crimes is a complex matter, and one which each state deals with in its own unique way.

You might think that this means the typical person can’t really hope to understand the basics, but thankfully you don’t need a law degree to appreciate how crimes are classified in different ways across the US. All you need is a quick primer on the basics, which is exactly what we’ve put together for you here!

What Are Felony vs. Misdemeanor Crimes?

The criminal justice system in the United States is divided into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors.

A felony is a serious crime which carries harsher punishments, such as jail time or even the death penalty in some cases. Examples of felonies include murder, rape, grand theft larceny and arson.

Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies but still carry penalties such as fines or jail time for up to one year. Examples of misdemeanors include disorderly conduct, petty theft and possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Depending on the state you live in there may be other crimes that fit into either category depending on their severity – so it’s important to understand what type of crime you’re charged with before going to court.

There are even places like New Jersey where the terms ‘felony’ and ‘misdemeanor’ aren’t even used; instead you get ‘indictable’ crimes and ‘disorderly person’ crimes, which serve a similar purpose.

What Are 4th Degree Crimes? (Plus Examples)

4th degree crimes are the least serious offenses in most states. They’re usually classed as misdemeanors, and typically involve minor theft or property damage, disorderly conduct, or other non-violent acts.

In some states, a fourth degree conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Some examples of fourth degree crimes include trespassing on public land, shoplifting items valued at less than $500, possession of small amounts of marijuana, making false statements on an application for government benefits, and writing bad checks for less than $200.

In general terms, fourth degree crimes are considered more serious than petty offenses but not as severe as felonies. Depending on the state you live in and your criminal record prior to conviction, punishments can range from monetary fines to probationary periods with no incarceration at all – or even community service hours if you’re a first-time offender. People with extensive rap sheets are less leniently sentenced, both in South Carolina and further afield.

How Do States Differentiate Between Types of Homicide?

Homicide is a grave crime in the United States and it’s usually classified as either first- or second-degree murder, depending on the severity of the act.

In addition to this distinction, states also have different laws that differentiate between intentional and negligent killings – known as manslaughter or voluntary/involuntary manslaughter respectively.

Intentional homicide includes premeditated murder (first degree) and any unintentional killing caused by recklessness or negligence (second degree).

Manslaughter can be further divided into voluntary and involuntary categories based on whether an individual acted with intent to kill another person or not. This distinction is important because it carries much harsher punishments for those found guilty of intentional homicides compared to those convicted under involuntary manslaughter charges.

The criminal classification of murder matters most in states with capital punishment. This is because those found guilty of first degree murder risk execution.

Final Thoughts

All crimes carry some repercussions in the US, regardless of where you live or where you commit an offense. For that reason it’s always wise to stick to the right side of the law, while knowing your rights if you’re wrongly accused of a crime.



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