In the criminal justice system, criminal offenses are generally divided into two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are classified as the most serious offenses while misdemeanors are the least serious infractions. In most cases, a misdemeanor is defined as a crime that has an accompanying punishment that is less than one year in jail.
Examples of Common Misdemeanors
In order to understand the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, it is helpful to consider some examples of common misdemeanors. It is also important to note that, in general, misdemeanor offenses are those which do not pose a serious threat to another person or to society. Some examples include:
- Assault. Although assault may sound like a felony crime, in most cases it is classified as a misdemeanor. This is because simple assault usually does not result in serious injury to another person.
- Driving on a Suspended License. This is an extremely common type of misdemeanor. People who are convicted of this crime may have not renewed their driver’s license after it expired or they may not have renewed it after losing driving privileges due to a criminal conviction.
- Theft. Cases of simple theft that involve relatively small amounts of money or property are usually classified as misdemeanors. Felony charges are reserved for instances of theft in which large amounts of money or property was stolen or weapons were used.
Although misdemeanors do not usually have severe punishments, that does not mean that they are to be taken lightly. It is very important to abide by the court’s ruling in misdemeanor cases to ensure that additional charges are not filed.
Misdemeanors are usually separated into three different classes. Each class has its own punishment range:
- Class C Misdemeanors. These are the least serious misdemeanor cases and they are usually punished by a fine of $500 or less.
- Class B Misdemeanors. These crimes are usually punished by up 180 days in jail and up to $2000 in fines.
- Class A Misdemeanors. The most serious misdemeanors are Class A violations, punishable by up to one year in jail and $4000 in fines.