Everyone makes mistakes. But if it’s a legal blunder–one in which you’ll be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor–you need to understand the type of charge you’re up against.
A misdemeanor is a minor type of crime punishable by monetary fine or a short stint in jail, usually shorter than a year. Most people who commit this type of offense don’t know that a misdemeanor crime is broken down into classes.
Misdemeanor Classes: what’s the difference and what does it mean for you? Let’s discuss them here.
Types of Misdemeanor Classes
A misdemeanor offense is one of the main crimes committed in most states, as more than 70 million Americans have some type of criminal record. On an average day, about 150,000 people are convicted of a crime, most of which are misdemeanors.
These misdemeanors are broken down into classes. From least to greatest:
Class 3 Misdemeanor
This type of misdemeanor carries less weight in terms of punishment. If convicted, a person could spend a maximum of 20 days in jail and be fined up to $200. Stealing a shopping cart or being caught in possession of marijuana are examples of class 3 misdemeanors.
Class 2 Misdemeanor
The stakes are higher in a class 2 misdemeanor. Assaulting an officer, behaving disorderly in public, and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, are class 2 misdemeanors punishable by 60 days behind bars and a hefty $1000 fine.
Class 1 Misdemeanor
A class 1 misdemeanor is accompanied by 120 days in jail and a fine deemed appropriate by the courts. Prostitution, breaking into an ATM, and drug possession are examples of class 1 misdemeanors.
Class A1 Misdemeanor
A class A1 misdemeanor, the most egregious type of misdemeanor, is associated with severer penalties. The fine and jail sentence is at the discretion of the court. Although the average time spent is normally a maximum of 150 days in jail.
Sentencing for each class is determined by a person’s prior conviction level–if any.
- Level I – First offense, as the person has no prior convictions.
- Level II – A defendant has 1 to 4 priors.
- Level II – The accused has been convicted at least 5 or more times prior.
Ultimately, a judge can decide if a defendant is incarcerated or sentenced to community service based upon class, conviction level, and priors.
If You Are Charged
Although a misdemeanor is a minor offense, never go to court without the proper defense–especially if you have a prior record.
If you are charged with this type of offense, your case will be heard in court and you will be required to understand the ramifications of the charges brought against you. A judge will give you the option to plead your case or take it to trial.
At trial, you could be found guilty and sentenced to a fine, community service, or prison time.
Speak with a qualified professional if you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor is a crime. Invest time in understanding the different types of misdemeanor classes. They will help you comprehend the charge you’re facing and what’s to be expected of you when you go before a judge.
Take a look at our article, Your Complete Bail Bonds Guide, to understand what to do if a bail if required of you.