What Is the Difference Between an Infraction And A Misdemeanor?

An infraction and misdemeanor, although many may think are very similar, actually have very big differences between them. This is one of the most common questions that our California car accident attorneys receive.

A misdemeanor and an infraction are considered to be an offense under the justice system in California. This means that both actions are punishable, and both are considered severe to some degree. Both could be punishable monetarily or could also include some jail time or public service.

What is property damage?

Property damage claims specifically refer to damage done to your personal belongings during the accident. The most common example used in car accident claims is car repair. Your vehicle will most probably suffer some type of damage. Property damage refers to the costs needed to repair or replace your vehicle. If your car suffered minor damage, then you most likely will only recover repair costs. If your vehicle is not operable anymore and the cost to repair the vehicle is more than the value of the actual vehicle itself, then you most likely will receive the value of the vehicle.

What is an infraction?

An infraction is not as serious as a misdemeanor. An infraction results in minor punishable offenses, which could include:

  • Speeding
  • Violating pedestrian crosswalk sign
  • Making an illegal left turn
  • Making an illegal U-turn
  • Tailgating
  • Driving without insurance
  • Parking in an illegal area
  • Driving with broken taillights
  • Negligent driving
  • Driving without a license
  • Failure to wear a seat belt

Infractions have fines that go up to $500 in California. However, keep in mind that there are other taxes and fees that may be associated with that $500 on top. For example, several of these above infractions may require traffic school. Traffic school is not provided within the traffic ticket and should be looked into with a third-party company.

Who determines property damage?

After a car accident, our car accident attorneys recommend that you visit a car body shop to determine the amount of damage that your car has faced. A body shop will be able to review all the damage around your car and create an invoice as to what work is needed and what has been damaged. An invoice from a body shop is a key type of evidence that could be given to an insurance company when they are determining the property damage claim.

Could an infraction affect my insurance?

When you receive an infraction in California, you may receive a point on your driving record. A driving record is a personal profile created by the DMV that is accessible by you and insurance companies. This means that an insurance company could raise their rates based on the number of points that you have on your record. Also, having several points on your record could lead to a license suspension.

Could my license get suspended?

Your license can get suspended by an infraction depending on the number of points you have on your driving record.

  • If you receive 4 points in one year, you could have your license suspended
  • If you receive 6 points in two years, you can have your license suspended
  • If you received 8 points in 3 years, you can have your license suspended
Can I remove points from my DMV driving record?

Each circumstance varies depending on the number of points you have on your record. If it is your first or second point, then the Court will usually allow you to take traffic school and pay the fines in order to have your point removed from your record. But, keep in mind that this is not always the case, and differs depending on the circumstance of the vehicle infraction.

What is a Fix-It ticket in California?

A Fix-It ticket is essentially a ticket you receive if you have been stopped by a police officer for failure to maintain your vehicle. For example, if you have been driving with an expired license, an expired license plate, or broken taillights, you may receive a Fix-It ticket. A Fix-It ticket requires you to fix these issues involved with your car with any specific amount of time. If you fail to fix these issues, then you will be subject to fines, and if you are to get pulled over again, you will then be fined a much higher amount. A Fix-It ticket will not usually affect your insurance rates. This is because a Fix-It ticket is considered to be a non-moving violation. However, multiple Fix-It tickets could affect your insurance rate once it piles up.

How much does one point affect car insurance in California?

If you have received one point on your driving record, then your car insurance may go up. With every point that you receive, there is always the possibility that your insurance rates will go up. But, keep in mind that one point will not substantially affect your insurance rates compared to having two or three points on your record.

Will a car accident show up on my driving record?

Car accidents with $1,000 or more in property damage must be reported to the DMV. Considering that  even minor car accidents could get expensive, this condition has likely been met in a majority of car accidents. Car accidents that have been reported with you at fault will show up on your driving record.

How long does a ticket stay on your driving record in California?

In California, any points, traffic tickets will stay on your record for around 3 years. After three years, you may notice your insurance rates slightly go down since those points are considered to be old.

What is a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor, also referred to as a gross misdemeanor, is considered to be harsher than an infraction. Misdemeanors are considered to be more serious violations of the law. A misdemeanor could result in jail sentencing, with a maximum time of one year in jail. Examples of misdemeanors include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Drug possession

A misdemeanor is more involved with the court system. Meaning that it is more serious compared to a regular infraction that could easily be dismissed by paying specific fines. Misdemeanors include several different legal steps that you could go through. Some examples include:

  • Arrest: this occurs when the police officers arrest you in a public area or at your home.
  • Arraignment: during the arraignment, the arrested person is made aware of what they did wrong and what crimes they are charged with.
  • Bail hearing: during a bail hearing, the Court decides what amount they will place the arrested person on bail with.
  • Trial: during the trial, the prosecutor will show all the evidence to the jury. The jury then decides the amount of jail time.

Appeal: if the defendant is not satisfied with what the jury decided, then they could appeal the court decision. This will then open the way for another trial.

What is a felony?

A felony is considered to be the most serious crime when compared to an infraction or a misdemeanor. Felonies have very severe consequences, and will take longer than a year in jail time. The most common example of felony is robbery or murder.

Felonies will most likely stay on your record your entire life. This could affect your future, including applying for a job, applying for a house, or voting.

Do you have traffic tickets? Contact our attorneys today for more information. Our car accident end traffic ticket attorneys will assist you if you have been in receipt of an infraction or misdemeanor. First, if you don’t know what you have received, our attorneys will walk you through the process and determine if you have received an infraction of his demeanor. The different actions you must take depend on what you have received.

Our car accident attorneys have been representing car accidents and traffic ticket drivers for decades. We fight tirelessly to make sure that the rule of law in California is always upheld, and no person tries to take advantage of the laws.

Infractions are not criminal charges, but depending on the circumstances of the traffic violation, could carry very severe penalties. That is why having an accident attorney on your side will better ease the process.  The faster you talk to one of our car accident attorneys, the better it is for your case.

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