Classification Of Crimes Misdemeanors

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A misdemeanor is a classification for a less serious crime that is usually punishable by a fine or jail time that equals to less than one year. As in most criminal cases, a misdemeanor prosecution starts with the arrest. However, unlike a felony arrest, most people charged with misdemeanors are held only for a short time before they are released by police after agreeing to appear at their next court date by signing a citation that is known as a "promise to appear." It is not rare for a person to be arrested on misdemeanor charges and then released, only to appear in court and discover that no charges have been filed against them. This is because sometimes the charges have been dropped by the prosecution. Felony arrestees remain in custody until the time of their court date, or may be released on bail or bond.

There are numerous crimes classified as misdemeanors. Petty theft is classified as a misdemeanor. In most states, theft is termed "petty theft" if the item stolen was below a particular monetary value. Other crimes classified as misdemeanors include trespassing, vandalism, various forms of disorderly conduct, and several other less serious crimes. Drunk driving is considered a misdemeanor unless the person has been charged with several related drunk driving incidents in a particular amount of time.

In most misdemeanor cases, punishment will not exceed over one year of jail time. Generally, only felony charges result in more than a year of imprisonment. However, in some states, repeat offenders with misdemeanor charges can receive more than one year of jail time. Probation and community service are also common punishments for someone who has been charged with a misdemeanor.

Most privileges are not taken away from someone who has committed a misdemeanor. However, there are some potential losses relating to public employment and particular licenses. Voting rights and jury duty are generally not taken away from those who are charged with a misdemeanor. Also, licensed professionals who are charged with misdemeanors are usually still able to practice in their chosen profession. A person serving a sentence for a misdemeanor will usually serve the time in a local or county jail rather than in a federal or state prison.

Some states enforce a three-strike rule for felonies. A misdemeanor is not usually included in most three-strike rules.

There are many states which divide misdemeanors into different classes. For example, in Wisconsin there are Class A, Class B and Class C misdemeanors. Occasionally, a misdemeanor charge will fall outside of any particular class. In this situation, punishment will be made according to the severity and other factors relating to the crime. Also, repeat offenders can face not only greater sentences, but also face larger fines than one-time offenders. Generally, some classes of misdemeanors will be punishable by a specific amount of jail time while other classes of misdemeanors will be punishable by fine. In most states, the amount of the fine is set depending on the misdemeanor class.