infraction | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction 

In the criminal justice context, an infraction is a minor offense or violation of the law that is not considered a crime but is punishable by a fine or penalty. 

An infraction, in the context of criminal justice, is a minor violation of the law that is not considered a crime yet warrants a penalty or fine. This simple definition is a helpful starting point, but there’s more to understanding them. Let’s dive deeper.


Firstly, it’s essential to distinguish infractions from other types of offenses, specifically misdemeanors and felonies. Infractions are less severe. They’re typically non-criminal offenses. Common examples are traffic violations, like speeding or running a red light, or small societal offenses, such as littering or jaywalking. These actions break rules set by local or national law, but they aren’t serious enough to be considered crimes. As a result, they carry less severe punishments, typically not involving imprisonment.

Dealing with Infractions

The process of dealing with them is generally straightforward. In most cases, if you’re cited for an infraction, there’s no need to appear in court. Instead, the offender usually receives a ticket or citation. This document lists the infraction and the corresponding fine, which is typically paid by mail or online.

But what if you believe the citation was made in error? If you feel you were unfairly cited, you have the right to contest it. You can do this by requesting a hearing. During this hearing, you’ll appear before a judge, explaining why you believe the citation is wrong. The judge then makes a decision based on the evidence presented.


Let’s talk about the penalties associated with infractions. Infractions, due to their less severe nature, carry smaller penalties than misdemeanors or felonies. Usually, the penalty for an infraction is a fine. The amount can vary depending on the severity of the infraction and the laws in your area.

Sometimes, instead of a fine or in addition to it, a penalty may involve community service. For instance, if you are cited for littering, you might be ordered to spend a certain number of hours cleaning up a public space. The goal of such a penalty is not just to punish but also to deter future infractions and foster a sense of responsibility.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 05/25/2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.