Crimes are usually divided into several different categories depending on how serious they are. These categories help courts decide how to handle the crimes. Generally speaking, these categories are differentiated by how much potential jail time an offender could face.
There are three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction, but less serious than a felony. They are defined as crimes which are punishable by up to 1 year in jail, but some states define them as crimes which are neither felonies or infractions.
Although there can be jail time, this sentence can be carried out in a local jail rather than a high security prison. Prosecutors usually have a lot of flexibility deciding what crimes to charge, how to punish them, and what kinds of plea bargains to negotiate.
Examples of misdemeanors may include:
People who are convicted of misdemeanors are often punished with probation, community service, short jail term, or part-time incarceration such as a sentence that may be served on the weekends.
A misdemeanor may seem less serious than dealing with a felony, but it can still cause problems and stress in your life. There is a possibility of jail time, as well as a permanent criminal record that can limit your opportunities when finding a job.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you reduce the consequences and eliminate a criminal record.