What is Considered to be a Criminal Offense?

July 16, 2021 Criminal Defense

When discussing court cases, it can often be confusing to determine the difference between a “civil case” and a “criminal offense.” After all, both civil and criminal cases involve courts, so is there really a difference?

The answer is yes. There is certainly a difference between civil and criminal cases.

Without a doubt, there are many different kinds of crimes. We can look to the penal codes in the state of Arizona as well as laws set forth by individual counties and cities in this state to examine the various types of crimes that a person could be charged with. Ultimately, we will see that a crime is wrongdoing that a person can face punishment for.

Common Types of Criminal Offense in Arizona

When we examine the various types of crimes that a person can face punishment for in Arizona, we can see that there are all types of “wrongs” that the state has set forth laws to protect citizens against. Some of the most common categories of crimes include the following:

  • Personal crimes. Personal crimes are those that, when committed, cause physical or emotional harm to another individual. The most heinous personal crime that can be committed is homicide, which is the taking of another individual’s life. Other examples of personal crimes include assault and battery, rape, domestic violence, kidnapping, sexual abuse, and more.
  • Property crimes. Property crimes are offenses committed that involve interference with the property of someone else. These crimes primarily deal with depriving someone of the use and enjoyment of their own property. This can include theft crimes such as burglary, robbery, shoplifting, auto theft, etc.
  • Statutory crimes. Statutory crimes are defined as those offenses that, aside from the crimes mentioned above, are forbidden by statute. Some of the most common statutory crimes include the following:
    • Alcohol-related crimes. This can include public intoxication, DUI, open container, minor in possession of alcohol, etc.
    • Drug-related crimes. This can include a person found in possession of narcotics or manufacturing and trafficking narcotics.
    • Traffic offenses. Traffic offenses are crimes that arise due to actions a person takes on the roadway. These offenses can overlap with other types of statutory offenses, such as DUI. Other common traffic statutory offenses include driving without a license, reckless driving, hit and run, driving on a suspended license, etc.
    • Financial crimes or white-collar crimes. These crimes involve one person deceiving someone else or a company for financial gain. Some of the most common white-collar crimes include tax evasion, embezzlement, money laundering, cybercrime, etc.

Levels of Crimes in Arizona

It is not enough to simply discuss the types of crimes that a person can be charged with. We have to look at the various levels of offenses that a person can face.

This includes the following:

  • Felony offenses. Felonies are the most serious type of charge a person can face and are typically punishable by incarceration in prison for more than a year. Sometimes, felony offenses can carry life sentences without parole.
  • Misdemeanor offenses. Misdemeanors are less serious than felony offenses, and we will usually find that these are punishable by one year or less in jail. Often, misdemeanor offenses come with no jail time attached at all, and people sometimes just pay fines. The distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony offense has to do with the severity of the crime involved.
  • Infractions. Infractions are crimes that typically do not involve any jail time. Often, these are violations of local laws or ordinances, including speed violations, littering, operating a business without a license, etc. Usually, infractions are punishable by fines.

If you are being charged with a crime, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix immediately to see what options you have. Call today for a free consultation (602) 737-3333.

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