One of the types of offenses punishable under criminal law is a misdemeanor. In this article, we’ll define the term “misdemeanor,” give some examples, explain the misdemeanor classification system, and discuss misdemeanor sentencing.
A misdemeanor is a type of offense punishable under criminal law. Generally speaking, a misdemeanor is a crime minor enough to be punishable by no more than one year in prison. Other common punishments for misdemeanors include:
Crimes that do not qualify as misdemeanors will be classified as either felonies or citations.
Misdemeanors are usually crimes that are thought to be less violence, dangerous, or harmful to society than felonies. Some examples of crimes that are usually classified as misdemeanors include:
In many states, misdemeanors are classified under different categories depending on how serious the crime and its punishment are. States that do not classify misdemeanors by categories sentence on a crime-by-crime basis.
In most states, misdemeanors are classified as such:
Typically, jail time for misdemeanors is served in local county jails instead of high security prisons. Prosecutors usually have quite a bit of flexibility in deciding what misdemeanors to charge, how to punish them, and what kind of plea bargains to negotiate for them.
There are also certain crimes known as “wobblers” that can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors depending on the circumstances of the crime. The defense can use certain facts, such as if the crime was committed without a weapon, to try to have the crime sentenced as a misdemeanor rather than as a felony.