What happens if you are charged with a misdemeanor?

There are three types of crimes, infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Misdemeanors are much more serious than infractions (which are like speeding or parking tickets) but not nearly as serious as felonies. This post will go over the basics of a misdemeanor and what can happen if you are faced with one.

A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine (usually) and incarceration (occasionally) in a local jail. The hallmark of a misdemeanor is that your incarceration cannot exceed one year, or else you are upgraded to a felony.

Luckily, most prosecutors and judges are given broad leeway to deal with misdemeanor offenders. This means there is a lot of room for negotiation for alternative punishments to conviction, such as community service.

Misdemeanors are often divided into three types:

  • Gross or high misdemeanors;
  • Ordinary misdemeanors; and
  • Petty misdemeanors.

Gross misdemeanors are serious crimes that are usually charged as a felony but the state legislature reduced for a policy reason, first-time drunk drivers who do not injure anyone or damage any property, can often get their felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor. But these charges often require incarceration, severe fines, and other punishments.

Petty misdemeanors are typically minor crimes, like petty theft, and usually, result in a fine that is under $500 and less than six months of incarceration.

Just because misdemeanors are not that severe, does not mean you can sit back and hope for the best. If you are facing criminal charges, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Your misdemeanor charge can always turn into a felony, or the prosecutor can add additional charges. Regardless, it ‘s useful to have a lawyer on your side.