General Categories of Crime

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  • 0:03 Categories of Crime
  • 0:54 Felony Crimes
  • 1:38 Misdemeanor Crimes
  • 2:10 Offenses
  • 2:46 Treason and Espionage
  • 3:23 Inchoate Offenses
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

Watch this video to explore the different categories of crime. You'll learn about felonies, misdemeanors, offenses, treason, espionage, and inchoate offenses.

Categories of Crime

Suppose that Arthur went to a bachelor party in Las Vegas, Nevada. While Arthur was partying, he engaged in a lot of crazy behavior, including some illegal activity. Arthur was being excessively loud and received a ticket. He wants to know what type of crime he was charged with. Let's review the different types of criminal law violations to see if you can figure out which type of crime Arthur has committed.

There are many types of criminal law violations. The different categories of crime include:

  • Felony crimes
  • Misdemeanor crimes
  • Offenses
  • Treason and espionage
  • Inchoate offenses

Let's take a closer look at each category of crime.

Felony Crimes

Felony crimes consists of serious crimes. When people are convicted of a felony, they can be punished by a prison term of one year or higher, or even death under certain circumstances. Once convicted of a felony crime, people can lose some of their rights, such as the right to vote, owning a firearm, or working in certain jobs, such as law enforcement or the medical field.

Felony crimes include:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery
  • Drug possession
  • Burglary
  • Aggravated assault

Misdemeanor Crimes

Misdemeanor crimes are less serious than felony crimes. Usually, the punishment for a misdemeanor crime is one year or less imprisonment. Moreover, there is generally no loss of your rights when you commit a misdemeanor crime. Some misdemeanor crimes include:

  • Disturbing the peace
  • Petty larceny
  • Simple assault
  • Simple battery
  • Writing bad checks


Offenses are sometimes referred to as violations or infractions. This category of crime includes minor violations of the law that are less serious than misdemeanor crimes. Frequently, punishments for offenses involve the issuance of tickets and the payment of fines as opposed to court appearances. Some examples of offenses include:

  • Public intoxication
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Traffic violations
  • Littering
  • Jaywalking

Treason and Espionage

Treason and espionage are a unique category of crime. Both of these crimes constitute felony crimes. Treason occurs when a United States citizen assists a foreign government to overthrow, institute a war, or cause injury to the United States. Additionally, espionage consists of collecting, transmitting, and providing information pertaining to the national defense to enemies of the United States. Espionage can be committed by either U.S. or non-U.S. citizens.

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