A criminal matter is a public offense or act that violates a law. Offenses against criminal codes of law are distinguished by seriousness and punishment into three general categories: Felony, misdemeanor and infraction. The courts receive notification of alleged criminal activity via a written citation, complaint, information or indictment.
- Felony: A felony is the most serious type of crime. Depending on the charge, conviction could result in a probation and/or fines, commitment to state prison or the death penalty.
- Misdemeanor: A misdemeanor is a public offense punishable by fine, imprisonment in the county jail for a maximum of one year and/or probation, or any combination of these alternatives.
- Infraction: An infraction is public offense punishable only by a fine.