What Are Misdemeanor Charges?

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What Are Misdemeanor Charges?

Misdemeanor charges involve slight criminal fines and/or a jail sentence of up to 12 months (1 year maximum). Misdemeanor charges remain on a person’s record, although they can be subject to expungement or record clearing after some time. They are easier to have cleared from a criminal record than felony charges.

The following types of crimes are usually categorized as misdemeanors: petty theft, simple battery or assault, criminal mischief, public drunkenness, criminal coercion, and some minor drug crimes.

What Are Non-Jailable Offenses?

Some misdemeanor charges are classified as "non-jailable offenses". This means that the person will not receive a jail sentence if they are found guilty of the crime. Instead, the person will usually receive an alternative sentencing option, such as a fine, community service, or counseling sessions. These types of offenses are still charged as misdemeanors, but in reality are closer to simple citations or traffic violations.

Examples of non-jailable offenses include: jaywalking, trespassing, disorderly conduct, or disturbing the peace. Charges such as "disturbing the peace" can include a wide range of behavior; the definition may vary from area to area. In some states, possession of a small amount of certain drugs is a non-jailable offense.

Are There Any Alternative Sentencing Options for Misdemeanor Charges?

As mentioned, alternative sentencing options may be available for certain misdemeanor charges. These are usually reserved for less serious crimes, nonjailable offenses, juvenile offenders, and first-time offenders. Alternative sentencing options may generally seek to keep the defendant out of jail as much as possible. Such options may include:

Thus, alternative sentencing can often allow a person to continue functioning in their communities even after being charged with an offense.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Misdemeanor Offenses?

Misdemeanor charges can sometimes involve different legal concepts and theories. Also, misdemeanors laws can be subject to change and are very different from state to state. You may need to hire a qualified lawyer if you need assistance with criminal charges. A qualified criminal lawyer can represent you in court and can provide you with the legal advice that is essential for your defense.

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Last Modified: 10-25-2016 09:23 PM PDT

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