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What's the difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

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By Tiffany Brewington - Editor
Record Information Services
July 2007

The way in which you judge information found in someone's public record files can have serious consequences for you, your company (if you background check for business use), and also for the individual in question. Two of the key criminal record databases that Check Illinois collects are Misdemeanors and Felonies, and some may be wondering what the differences are between the two types of violations. It is important to note that the way states classify crimes varies, and it can also depend on the severity of the crime.

A misdemeanor is the lesser of the two criminal acts, and therefore includes a smaller punishment such as probation and/or jail time than felonies do. What constitutes a misdemeanor varies by jurisdiction, but can commonly include violations such as vandalism, simple assault, minor drug possession, theft, trespassing, and public intoxication. Misdemeanors in the U.S. are typically offenses that may be punished summarily by fine and/or by imprisonment for less than one year.

In contrast, felonies are typically reserved for more severe crimes, which may include drug possession, burglary, fraud, robbery, murder, rape, arson, and more. Felonies are typically punishable by more than one year in prison or depending on the crime, by death. Often times convicted felons lose civil rights such as the ability to vote, own guns, or practice certain professions.

Although Check Illinois does not scan individuals for infractions, infractions are a third type of punishable act, which is reserved for routine traffic stops and violations such as loitering, jaywalking, and disturbing the peace. Many minor traffic violations are considered infractions.

One of the advantages that Check Illinois http://consumer.public-record.com has over other public record background sites is the ability to show its users what type of public records are available for an individual - before you purchase them. For example, running a search on John Smith may say he has 2 misdemeanors and 3 felonies. By purchasing the individual record for only $7.95, you may see the violation that the actual record was for.

Consumers and businesses alike need to be very careful in the ways in which they analyze and use information found in public records. It is important to note that the criminal databases that Check Illinois collects (DUIs, Suspended/Revoked Licenses, Misdemeanors, and Felonies) are only arrest cases. These files are not updated in any way over time to reflect whether or no the individual was indeed convicted of the crime in court. The Web site http://consumer.public-record.com is not intended for full-scale background checks and is for informational purposes only.

Visit http://consumer.public-record.com to perform a FREE INITIAL public record search on anyone in northern Illinois (list of available counties, types of record and record history is listed on the main page).