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Unclassified Misdemeanor Laws

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What is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a type of criminal offense that is punishable by monetary fines and/or a jail sentence not exceeding one year. Misdemeanors are therefore less serious crimes than felony crimes, which can result in higher fines and/or a prison sentence of more than one year.

Most states classify misdemeanors into several categories. For example, misdemeanors may be classified as Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, etc., or Class A, Class B, Class C misdemeanors, and so on. Class 1 or Class A misdemeanors are more serious, whereas Class 3 or Class 4 involve significantly less serious crimes.

What is an “Unclassified Misdemeanor”?

Some states also include an extra category of misdemeanors, which are called “Class U” misdemeanors, or “Unclassified Misdemeanors.” Unclassified misdemeanors are crimes which do not fit into any of the other general categories such as Class A, B, or C. 

“Unclassified Misdemeanor” is actually a separate category in some states that serves to address all misdemeanors not included under the general categories. Uncalassified misdemeanors are labeled as such because they are either too unique or involve a new issue that has not yet been addressed by state laws. Or, a misdemeanor may be included under unclassified offenses if it is not very serious in nature.

Some examples of unclassified misdemeanors include:

  • Minor gambling offenses
  • Moderate offenses such as littering or transporting garbage in an unauthorized vehicle
  • Various traffic citations, such as driving with an expired license, driving with a broken tail light, or having unpaid parking tickets

Thus, most unclassified misdemeanors are minor, non-jailable offenses, though some states can include more serious offenses. 

States that have some form of “unclassified misdemeanor” laws include Alaska, Arkansas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and other states. You may wish to consult with a lawyer if you have questions about the misdemeanor laws of your state.

What Are the Legal Consequences for Unclassified Misdemeanors?

The legal consequences for an unclassified misdemeanor will usually depend on the jurisdiction. Consequences can also depend on the specific type of crime that is committed. Like most other misdemeanor convictions, being found guilty for an unclassified misdemeanor will usually result in a monetary fine and jail time of less than one year.

Even if a misdemeanor is unclassified, there may be a specific statute that deals directly with that type of misdemeanor. In this case, the legal penalty may be prescribed according to the statute itself.

In most other cases, the penalty for an unclassified misdemeanor will not be contained in any state statute or law. Therefore it will be up to the judge to determine the penalty for the misdemeanor. They will arrive at a penalty by analyzing the individual facts of the case, and comparing it with similar types of misdemeanor cases. 

Finally, repeat convictions for an unclassified misdemeanor can result in more severe penalties, even if the charges are the same as in the previous incident. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Unclassified Misdemeanor charges?

The laws covering unclassified misdemeanors vary widely by state- some states do not have such a category at all. Therefore if you are facing charges for an unclassified misdemeanor, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  As in any other criminal case, you have the right to an attorney. Your lawyer will be able to discuss your charges in detail to see if you can have the charges dropped or reduced. 

Photo of page author Peter Clarke

, LegalMatch Content Manager

Last Modified: 04-16-2018 08:44 PM PDT

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