What Are the Three Kinds of Misdemeanors?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Samuel E. Bassett with Minton, Bassett, Flores and Carsey.

What Are the Three Kinds of Misdemeanors?
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A misdemeanor is considered a criminal act somewhere between the severity of a minor infraction and an actual felony. Unlike infractions which are punishable by fines but not jail time, or a felony which is punishable by high fines and lengthy prison sentences for crimes viewed as severe, a person convicted of a misdemeanor may serve jail time for as little as six months with a fine of several hundred dollars or less, depending on the class of misdemeanor.

If you or a loved one have been accused of a misdemeanor, it’s important to understand the three kinds of misdemeanors and reach out to a criminal defense attorney for help protecting your rights throughout the trial process.

The three kinds of misdemeanors are as follows:

  • Gross misdemeanors: Sometimes referred to as “high” misdemeanors, this is considered the most serious kind of misdemeanor and is one step below a felony, at which point the penalties become more severe. Gross misdemeanors are punishable by jail time with fines of up to $3,000. Common gross misdemeanor offenses include a second conviction of driving under the influence, prostitution, burglary, and more.
  • Ordinary misdemeanors: Sometimes referred to as simply “misdemeanors”, this is the standard type of misdemeanor and may include jail time and fines of up to $1,000. Common misdemeanor offenses include the first conviction of driving under the influence, basic assault, some theft, and more.
  • Petty misdemeanors: Crimes that fall under this category are generally viewed as less severe than others; for this reason, sentencing for petty misdemeanors often consists of less than six months of jail time with a fine of only several hundred dollars. Common petty misdemeanors include violations of traffic law such as speeding, possession of a small amount of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, and more.

Some of the most common misdemeanors include the following:

  • Petty theft
  • Basic assault
  • Public intoxication
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Indecent exposure
  • Trespassing
  • Possession of controlled substances
  • Resisting arrest
  • Vandalism
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution

If you or a loved one have been charged with any kind of misdemeanor, especially an ordinary or gross misdemeanor, it is important to secure legal representation to make sure your rights are protected. Ordinary and gross misdemeanors can result in jail time, fines upward of a thousand dollars, and probation depending on the offense. To learn more about what qualifies as a misdemeanor or for help defending your case, contact a criminal defense attorney.

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