Examples of misdemeanors may include: petty theft, prostitution, public intoxication, simple assault, disorderly conduct, trespassing, reckless driving, possession of marijuana (or other drugs), and other similar crimes. Even though a misdemeanor is less of a crime, you can still end up with a warrant for your arrest without even knowing it. To check and see if you have a warrant for your arrest conduct an online search here.
Because misdemeanors are less serious in nature they usually do not result in the loss of civil rights (with the exception again of Massachusetts), but may result in loss of privileges, such as professional licenses, public offices, or public employment. This is more common when the misdemeanor is related to the privilege in question or when the misdemeanor involves conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice.
Several classes of misdemeanors may exist and the resulting punishment can vary widely between jail time and only a fine depending on the class. Misdemeanors are often categorized into three classes: high or gross misdemeanors, ordinary misdemeanors, and petty misdemeanors. For a petty misdemeanor jail time is usually less than six months and/or a fine of $500 or less. In relation, punishment for gross misdemeanors is greater than that for ordinary misdemeanors and less than that for felonies.
Occasionally a statute does not fit into a class, and is referred to as an unclassified misdemeanor. The circumstances under which unclassified misdemeanors are defined is to allow legislatures to impose penalties that fall outside the framework specified by each class.
A misdemeanor is considered a lesser crime than a felony, and more than an infraction, and is tried in lower local court systems such as municipal, police or justice courts. Misdemeanors generally involve less jail time than felonies or punished with only monetary fines. A misdemeanor usually carries a sentence of less than a year unless you live in Massachusetts, where the maximum punishment for some misdemeanors can be up to 2.5 years.
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