Petty Offense Law and Legal Definition

Petty offense refers to a minor or insignificant crime for which the maximum punishment is generally a fine or a short term in prison or in a house of correction.

The following is an example of a federal statute defining “petty offense”:

Pursuant to 18 USCS § 19 the term "petty offense" means a Class B misdemeanor, a Class C misdemeanor, or an infraction, for which the maximum fine is no greater than the amount set forth for such an offense in section 3571(b)(6) or (7) [18 USCS § 3571(b)(6) or (7)] in the case of an individual or section 3571(c)(6) or (7) [18 USCS § 3571(c)(6) or (7)] in the case of an organization.

The penalty for petty offence usually does not extent six months imprisonment, and for the same reason the accused is constitutionally not entitled for a jury trial.