Misdemeanors are criminal charges that are less serious than a felony. Misdemeanors are generally divided into three types; gross misdemeanors, ordinary misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors. Gross misdemeanors are the most serious and may lead to time in a county jail. On the other hand, petty misdemeanors are minor cases that lead to less jail time and a fine. Misdemeanors are more serious than infractions because the defendant might face jail time.
Misdemeanor cases are often flexible and prosecutors discuss the charges with the judge. The judge has the right to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges. There have been cases in which the judge has compromised between a misdemeanor and a felony charge. For example, sentencing the defendant to a fine as well as an incarceration period is somewhere in-between a felony and a misdemeanor. Some states are strict about the charges faced by the defendant, and do not allow judges to sway from the initial charges.
Federal misdemeanor charges are divided into three classes; Class A, Class B and Class C. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by six months to a year in prison, while Class B misdemeanors are punishable by one to six months in prison. Defendants facing Class C charges may spend up to 30 days in prison. Federal offenses that lead to jail time less than 30 days are called federal infractions. But unlike infractions, misdemeanor charges can have a long-lasting impact on your life and reduce your chances of getting a job or scholarship in the future.
If you are facing misdemeanor charges, it is advisable to contact an experienced defense attorney. The attorney may provide you with the best defense possible and try to make sure you do not have to spend time in prison.