Criminal Records Search
Those accused of a crime have a lot on their minds. Having questions is a natural part of the process for those accused, their friends, and their families. The subsequent sections answer the most common questions about criminal cases’ preliminary topics.
Every state dictates the organization (or lack thereof) and corresponding punishments of crimes committed within their boundaries. In other words, a speeding ticket in one state may be a misdemeanor in another.
Forty states currently have some form of an organizational method for their charges—the others are independent cases. Additionally, elements of the judicial process work by state statutes, federal laws, binding contracts, and precedents.
Every crime will be a felony, misdemeanor, or infraction, depending on the state where the accused committed the crime. Judges can charge similar actions within suggested boundaries by classifying crimes. There is usually precedent that a judge can use to help determine the Class of a crime; by extension, the judge also uses this categorization to decide severity and punishment.
For example, an individual who commits premeditated murder in one state may receive a felony charge. These are the highest charges an accused can receive; thus, felonies are considered the most severe crimes. In some states, a felony charge can mean the death penalty, while in others, it can mean decades in prison; in all cases, felony charges mean the loss of many rights, including housing and work opportunities.
In comparison, there are misdemeanors to consider. Misdemeanors are usually tied to lighter charges and smaller fines. Note, even though misdemeanors are considered less severe, being found guilty of a misdemeanor still goes on a background. Depending on the job and its requirements, charges from five to seven years ago may appear during the public records check.
States that use precipitable organizational methods also use subcategories, often called "Classes" or "Levels". Distinctions between Classes are simple, as they are typically used alongside a letter or number; for example, Class A, Level 1, Level B, or Class I. Further, Classes and Levels usually only have a range of A, B, C, or 1, 2, or 3; some states have other categories down to H or I. The most extreme cases are always in the top category: Classes and Level As.
Additionally, some states recognize a further subcategory called "degrees", which refers to the accused’s intention during a crime. First-degree murder is a deliberate event, third-degree assault is unintended, and many other degrees speak about other types of intentions. Many courts consider intention a considerable factor in deciding criminal punishments, plus it helps assign appropriate blame.
Three factors decide the punishments of a crime. First, those who determine the Class of a crime also determine the severity of the crime. Judges can consider severity in various ways; generally speaking, the more severity a crime racks up, the more punishments follow—because Classes can also increase. Some of the aspects judges have looked at in the past to find severity include:
The second factor that assists in determining the punishment of a crime is the ideal of equal retribution. Retribution is at the heart of the United States judicial system; it is the theory that punishments should equal the crimes committed. Courts approach this in two ways: time away from society and money. Nearly all criminal charges involve both of these elements in imprisonment and fines.
The last factor typically considered when determining a punishment is setting an example. Punishments are meant to be deterrents, as well as serve justice. To be a proper deterrent, certain ideals are followed—based on the individuals deciding, and for better or worse. Said another way, some punishments are better deterrents than others; the teen who has never been in trouble before may get the message with hours of community service rather than nights in jail.
Class B misdemeanors are considered lesser criminal charges, but they also are the middle-of-the-road category of severity. In other words, a misdemeanor Class B is a more concerning but less damaging charge overall. Possible punishments can range from a fine of a few thousand dollars to jail time and worse. Some examples of Class B misdemeanors and their punishments by the state could include: