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What Is an Infraction?

An infraction is a word that is used colloquially to generally refer to a crime or violation of the law. However, it is more commonly used as a reference to a violation of a minor law or local ordinance. The use of the term infraction is frequent in the United States where it is seen as less serious than a misdemeanor.

An infraction occurs when an offense is made against statutory laws. However, persons who are guilty of infractions do not face jury trials, but legal proceedings handled by only a judge. The judge then passes a judgment that may involve some form of punishment in fines that cannot exceed 500 US dollars or a possible incarceration that may last no longer than 5 days. However, imprisonment is only done under extreme circumstances, and it is usually done by the citing officer especially to individuals who are under the influence of alcohol and causing public disturbance. It is common that infractions brought before a court of law have been witnessed and the judgment passed is usually a conviction. It is possible that the guilty individual may continue to claim innocence or some other form of defense.

Infractions are usually considered as petty offenses that can be cited by any individual in an administrative position or law enforcement position. It is the prerogative of the jurisdiction to determine what is an infraction or what is a misdemeanor. Some jurisdictions may choose to reduce misdemeanor offenses to infractions in order to make citation and processing more effective.

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