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What is a Violation?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 16, 2024
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Violation is another term for an offense or an infraction. All of these terms generally mean an act of disobeying a law or a legal order. There are several categories of violations that exist at various levels of the legal system. Committing violations can result in a variety of consequences depending on the type of disobedient behavior.

A violation is a wrongdoing or some type of disobedience. Everyone is generally bound by the laws in the jurisdiction where they are. Where a person is determines what is or is not a violation. There may be laws that exist in one jurisdiction that do not exist in another. When a person acts illegally, he violates the law and may be held accountable.

This is often true even if the individual did not know that the law existed when he broke it. In some instances, sincere mistakes, even when illegal, are overlooked or excused. There is a wide range of consequences for violations, however, and which consequences are imposed generally depends on several factors.

To begin with, laws are often classified into categories of severity. A minor infraction, such as a misdemeanor, may not result in anything more than a warning or a fine. A major violation could result in life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Another factor considered is the number of previous violations a person has or how many he committed on a given occasion. When a person commits too many violations, it can appear to authorities that he has blatant disregard for the law. This can result in a person being subjected to severe consequences he otherwise would not endure.

Laws are not, however, the only way a person's behavior can be legally dictated. There are some authorities that do not make laws but which have the authority to issue orders. For example, a worker at the Department of Child Support Enforcement, can order a non-custodial parent to pay a certain amount in child support each month. If this person does not adhere to this order, a violation is committed and legal action can be taken.

The same is true in instances where people are placed on probation. The terms of one person's probation may differ from those of another individual. Each set of orders, however, is legally binding and refusal to follow any one of them is a violation. These types of infractions can often result in consequences similar to violations where laws are broken.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By ceceander — On Jul 05, 2016

I have a serious problem with people who set off illegal fireworks that cause my windows to react and some break/shatter my windows all through the night all night long every day even after the holidays are over. This is a continuous nuisance to me and my family and other neighbors who work and need sleep. These types of people who have that negative type of behavior truly do not care about anybody else -- just their own selfish and very immature negative desires.

People need sleep and illegal fireworks or (any fireworks that are noisy, M-80's) of this type should and need to be treated as a crime (Especially in residential neighborhoods) in more ways than one. I am so so tired of it. Who can I call? It's an emergency. I feel like I am in Beirut. No one should have to go through this regardless of where they live.

By anon329469 — On Apr 09, 2013

We have fired our attorney because he won't go back in for a bond reduction and keeps telling us that well, you committed the crime, as if he doesn't care for our case.

By anon311287 — On Dec 31, 2012

What could happen if I'm on parole and have only been out for two months and get in a fight with my sisters but they drop the charges, but I still have to go to court in front of the parole board. What am I looking at happening to me?

By cafe41 — On Jun 21, 2011

@Subway11 - That is so funny. I just want to say that in some states speeding violations are taken very serious. As a matter of fact in Virginia, a person exceeding the speed limit by twenty miles per hour is charged with a criminal offense on top of getting a ticket.

It is actually classified as a criminal misdemeanor violation due to reckless driving, and some counties will not allow you to get your points back by going to driving school. Of course if the speeding was a result of racing or some reckless behavior like then the criminal charge is upgraded to s serious felony.

By subway11 — On Jun 20, 2011

@Latte31 - I know what you mean. I have two young children and would have cringed if they had seen something like that on television. I have to say the only violation that I have ever received was a traffic violation.

I had a minor car accident a year ago and it was my fault. I crossed over to a lane that had a solid line which does not allow for passing. I learned my lesson because my ticket was over $125 and I had to do the driving school in addition to getting my car fixed.

My husband gets speeding violations all of the time. In fact, he got a speeding ticket on his way back from driving school. What are the odds of that? The officers just started laughing because when he tried to tell my husband that he could always go to driving school, my husband showed him the certificate of completion from the driving class that he just took. I guess not everyone learns their lesson.

By latte31 — On Jun 18, 2011

@SauteePan - I agree with what you are saying. I think that there should be stiff penalties imposed on these companies because there are a lot of young viewers watching sports programs like this and the programming should remain family friendly.

By SauteePan — On Jun 17, 2011

@Smartypantz - I know that in sports the violation tickets can be several thousand dollars. Some of the infraction records have included cursing and arguing with officials.

As a matter of fact, a player can be suspended and fined for several games for arguing with an official. Really you have to have these penalties because if not you will have players doing whatever they want and the games would not be fair.

You can also get fined if you use profanity on the air whether in a radio program or a television show. I remember when Janet Jackson had a problem with her outfit and briefly showed some nudity during a Super Bowl half time show, I believe that the network was fined although this was an accident.

So I think you can still get fined and charged with a violation even if it is an accident.

By smartypantz — On Jun 16, 2011

@m3g4n – Good call! And speaking of sports, I’ve noticed that both sports and laws can issue violation tickets. If you drive too fast, you get a ticket, and they give out tickets or cards in Soccer, for example.

By m3g4n — On Jun 15, 2011

There are also violations in the world of sports, such as basketball violations. Basketball violations can be physical, like traveling, or time-based, like the Three-Second-Rule. These rules are set in place to keep the game moving at a good pace and to eliminate any unfair advantages between the teams. This is one reason why games like basketball are so popular.

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