A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by crime and/or a sentence to a local or county jail. A misdemeanor crime in a county jail cannot exceed a sentence of over a year.
Misdemeanors in the U.S.
Misdemeanors in the U.S. are typically non-violent types of crimes with a maximum punishment of a year at the local jail level (as opposed to felonies, which are handled by state or federal prison systems and typically exceed over a year imprisonment sentence).
Misdemeanors are tried in local courts, including municipal, police, or justice courts. Types of misdemeanors may include drunkenness in public, some traffic violations, disturbing the peace, petty theft, or public nuisances.
Often misdemeanors are punishable with probation, short jail terms, community service, or even part-time imprisonment, which is served on the weekends.
Misdemeanors versus Felony Crimes
As opposed to felonies, misdemeanors usually do not carry a loss of civil rights. However, a misdemeanor may result in a loss of a license, ability to hold public office, or employment rights.
Felonies, in contrast, are permanent records that may severely limit one's ability to hold certain types of employment, licenses, or public office positions.
States often divide misdemeanors into classes, depending on the severity of the infraction. Unclassified misdemeanors do not fall under a specific class but may be still subject to penalties that are not limited by misdemeanor class designation.