What Is A Misdemeanor?

What Is A Misdemeanor?

Those who have committed a crime might be charged with a misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor is one of three categories criminal activities are assigned in accordance with the penal system of the United States. These acts are considered to be more egregious than infractions, but are viewed less significant than felonies.

In most instances, misdemeanor offenses are further divided into three distinct subcategories:

  • High misdemeanors – also referred to as gross misdemeanors
  • Ordinary misdemeanors
  • The least serious petty misdemeanors

Sometimes, misdemeanor classes are also labeled, defined and adjudicated as Class A through C or Class One Through Three. In these instances, Class A and One would be considered the most severe designations with the Class C and Three offenses the least.

Will A Misdemeanor Arrest Require The Posting Of Bail?
In some instances, those charged with misdemeanors may have to post bail in order to earn their release from police custody. Bail does not only grant the offending individual his or her release, but provides the court greater assurance the assailant will appear before it to face the charges levied.

Typically, the court will hold a bail hearing at which a judge will set bail for a specific amount of money. A number of different factors play in to how much bail will be set for, most notably, the offending individual’s prior criminal history. Once the specific amount is set, the person charged, a family member or close associate will be required to pay a certain percentage of total bail amount. Those who cannot afford to cover bail can appeal to a Bail Bonds Company for assistance. The Bail Bondsman will charge the arrested individual a percentage of the total bail with the promise to pay the court the total amount if the arrested individual fails to appear to face charges.

What Types Of Crimes Constitute A Misdemeanor?
In some cases, misdemeanors are constituted by the severity of a particular criminal act more so than the specific crime itself. Furthermore, misdemeanor offenses are often adjudicated and punished based upon the specific class they are placed in. Class A/One Misdemeanors can include, but are not limited to acts like simple assault, burglary, restraining order violations, possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, perjury, unlawful possession of a weapon and Driving Under The Influence (DUI) without bodily harm. Class 2/B Misdemeanors are often crimes like criminal mischief, trespassing, indecent exposure, and prostitution. Class C/Misdemeanors are often categorized as acts like disorderly conduct, minor incidents of theft, certain examples of child endangerment, property destruction, writing a bad check and giving a false missing persons report.

Where Are Misdemeanor Offenses Tried And Sentenced?
Misdemeanor cases that proceed to trial typically take place in a municipal or county courthouse. Trials are not always needed or advised for persons charged with misdemeanor offenses. Usually, trials are reserved for more serious misdemeanor crimes.

What Penalties Are Assessed To Those Convicted Of Misdemeanor Crimes?
Each individual state governs its own set of punishments for misdemeanors. Moreover, the penalty will often be dictated by the severity of the offense. In certain cases, convicted individuals will not be required to serve jail time, but merely be required to pay a fine. That said, there typically are specific limitations on jail time and levied fines for each class of misdemeanor.

Often, Class A/One Misdemeanors will carry a maximum of one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Individuals convicted of a Class B/Two Misdemeanor could be required to serve anywhere from six to nine months in jail and be mandated to pay a fine not exceeding $1,000. Those who have been sentenced to a Class C/Three Misdemeanor might be incarcerated of a period of three months and be required to shell out up to $1,000 in fines. Those required to serve jail time for a misdemeanor conviction will typically do so in a municipal or county jail and not a state of federal penitentiary those convicted of felonies usually serve their sentences.

Can A Misdemeanor Conviction Have Additional Consequences?
In addition to the penalties levied by a court of law, a misdemeanor conviction could have far reaching consequences on the offending individual after his or her sentence is over. Such repercussions include having criminal activity on their permanent record, being ineligible to receive certain public benefits, experiencing difficulty finding employment, losing certain professional licenses and the right to possess a firearm.

Read More: Misdemeanors vs. Felonies

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