Lesson 1 of 0
In Progress

1.3: Classification of Crimes


  • Learn legal English vocabulary relevant to the classification of crimes


  1. Read about classification of crimes
  2. Answer the questions

Classification of Crimes: Misdemeanors and Felonies

Crimes in the United States are classified by their severity.  They are divided into two major categories: felonies and misdemeanors.

Misdemeanors are less serious crimes and are usually defined as any crime where the maximum punishment is less than one year in prison or where the punishment is only a fine.  Felonies are crimes punishable by more than one year in prison and, in some cases, by the death penalty.  Felons (persons convicted of felonies) also may lose certain rights, including the right to serve on a jury.

Crimes in the United States are also in some states categorized by degrees, depending on defendant’s culpable mental state and/or the severity of the crime.  For example, in New York stealing property valued at more than $1,000,000 is first-degree grand  larceny.[1]  Stealing property worth more than $50,000 is second-degree grand larceny.[2] 

2. Answer the Questions

[1] New York Penal Law § 155.42.

[2] New York Penal Law § 155.40.