Class A Misdemeanor Laws

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What is a Class A Misdemeanor?

A Class A Misdemeanor is the most serious classification of misdemeanor charges in most states.  State typically divide misdemeanors into such categories as Class A, B, C, D, etc., with A being the most serious and C or D being the least serious 

Not all states and jurisdictions use the term “Class A misdemeanor”- some of them use the terms “first degree misdemeanor” or “Class 1 misdemeanor”.  Also, some states do not divide misdemeanor charges into classifications at all.  Class A misdemeanors are sometimes further divided into subcategories, such as class A-I or A-II

In general, a misdemeanor is an offense which is punishable by a jail term of one year maximum.  Offenses which require more than a year of incarceration are typically classified as felonies instead of misdemeanors.  Felony charges can result in a sentence in a federal prison, whereas misdemeanors usually result in sentencing in a local or county jail. 

Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, though some states treat Class A misdemeanors similarly to felonies.  Some circumstances may elevate a Class A misdemeanor to a felony charge.

What are the Penalties for Class A Misdemeanors?

Since class A misdemeanors are usually the most serious type of misdemeanor offense, they often involve the maximum amount of penalties that can be prescribed for a misdemeanor.  Though punishments may vary widely from state to state, a class a misdemeanor usually results in:

Additionally, a judge may require the defendant to complete additional requirements, such as rehabilitation programs or community service.  These depend on the nature of the class A misdemeanor and the prior criminal history of the defendant.

Class B misdemeanors typically involve a fine and/or a jail sentence of less than the maximum term, usually 6 or 9 months.  Class C and D misdemeanors are less serious; they are usually considered to be “non-jailable” offenses that are punished only by a small monetary fine. 

What are some common examples of Class A Misdemeanors?

Every state categorizes misdemeanors differently from the next.  For example, one state may place DUI offenses under class A, while other states may list DUI’s under a different category.  Some common examples of class A misdemeanor crimes include:

Again, class A misdemeanors may differ by region, so you may wish to consult with an attorney if you are unsure of the laws of your state.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Class A Misdemeanor charges?

Although it may seem like misdemeanor charges are not that serious, most class A misdemeanors are almost as serious as felony charges.  Therefore, you should speak with a criminal lawyer immediately if you have been accused of committing a class A misdemeanor.  Your attorney will be able to represent you in a court of law and can advise you on whether any defenses may be available to you.  They may also be able to contend for a reduction in charges or sentencing. 

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Last Modified: 02-16-2011 04:18 PM PST

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