A misdemeanor is a “lesser” offense in most common law jurisdictions. Misdemeanors are usually punishable less severely than serious felony charges but technically more often than not than non-criminal administrative and regulatory offenses. Misdemeanors can be punished by incarceration, fines, and other financial penalties. Some jurisdictions may even suspend a defendant’s driving privileges for a certain number of years.

A Misdemeanor Has 3 Classifications

Common law jurisdictions have traditionally divided misdemeanor into three basic classifications. These include a misdemeanor committed for financial gain, a misdemeanor involving a public offense (e.g., public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, trespassing), and a felony (a felony conviction). Each of these classifications has different sentencing and/or incarceration options and differs from state to state.

It’s About Intent

In most common law jurisdictions, a misdemeanor may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In some jurisdictions, misdemeanors must always be treated as felonies. The distinction between a felony and a misdemeanor may be made on the basis of the nature and seriousness of the alleged crime, the degree of involvement in the criminal activity, or in circumstances involving the commission of the offense (e.g., if the offense is a felony, the statute of limitations for filing charges against the defendant runs out earlier).

In most common law jurisdictions, a misdemeanor may be charged as either a misdemeanor crime of properties (a misdemeanor violation of a state law regarding the sale or exchange of property), or a crime of violence (a felony violation of a state law regarding the use of force against another person). Each of these two classes of crimes requires separate procedures to prove guilt and impose punishment. For example, a crime of violence crime of conviction may involve a pretrial search of the home, an arraignment, a trial, and a sentencing (if the crime of violence is a felony). ┬áState law may also dictate a certain amount of involvement (e.g., some states limit involvement in a crime of violence to one year, whereas others may allow a higher involvement rate). To a minimum of one year. The term “property crime” encompasses a variety of misdemeanor crimes such as:

  • trespassing
  • criminal mischief
  • criminal obstruction of highway signs and signals
  • vandalism
  • theft of property
  • fraud
  • assault
  • battery
  • forgery
  • burglary
  • theft of property

These charges are used for a variety of purposes.

Trespassing is a Misdemeanor Crime

A crime of property usually involves a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the underlying nature of the crime. Criminal trespass or obstruction of highway signs and signals usually involves a misdemeanor conviction and can lead to a fine, a jail sentence, probation, community service, and/or house arrest. Property crimes that involve more significant penalties include arson, embezzlement, grand theft, robbery, identity theft, sexual harassment, and drug possession. If a crime of property is committed in the course of committing another crime (e.g., embezzlement, or fraud), the felony conviction typically leads to a higher penalty (e.g., prison time, a longer sentence). It is important to note that the crime of property can also result in substantial financial consequences (e.g., loss of liberty, loss of driving privileges, loss of wages, etc.), and the potential for probation violation, parole, house arrest, or a period of incarceration.