What is a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is less serious than a felony, but more serious than an infraction. Misdemeanors are tried in the lowest local court and generally punishable by a fine between $500 and $5,000, community service, probation or incarceration for up to one year in a county jail, which can sometimes be served as a part-time sentence on the weekend.

What crimes are considered misdemeanors?

Misdemeanors are often separated into three classes: Class A (or Class 1) misdemeanors, Class B (or Class 2) misdemeanors and Class C (or Class 3) misdemeanors. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious and typically result in a fine up to $5,000 or up to 12 months’ incarceration.

Examples of misdemeanors include:

 

Class A Class B Class C
Assault causing bodily injury Trespass Disorderly conduct
Burglary Indecent exposure Reckless damage or destruction
DUI with no bodily injury Prostitution Leaving a child unattended in a vehicle
Resisting arrest Graffiti Theft of property worth less than $50
Possession of a controlled substance Theft of property worth more than $50, but less than $500 Issuing a bad check
Unlawful possession of a weapon Falsely reporting a child or missing person

 

What’s the big deal?

A common misconception is that misdemeanors only apply to low-level, non-violent offenses like driving without a license or being caught with a small amount of marijuana. However, misdemeanors also include more serious, and even violent, crimes like domestic violence, DUI or theft.

It’s important for the public to understand that releasing defendants charged with a misdemeanor can pose a threat to communities. Since not all misdemeanors are low-level, non-violent or victimless crimes, defendants released under this assumption are given the opportunity to commit an additional, maybe even more serious, crime.