Misdemeanor
Overview
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

 act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished
Punishment
Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong by an individual or group....

 much less severely than felonies
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions (also known as minor, petty or summary offence
Summary offence
A summary offence is a criminal act in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment .- United States :...

s) and regulatory offences. Many misdemeanors are punished with monetary fines.

Contravention
Contravention
In many civil law countries contravention is a less serious crime, similar to misdemeanor in common law countries. The term is also used in Australian law...

s are similar to misdemeanors in many civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 countries (e.g. France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 etc.).
In the United States, the federal government generally considers a crime punishable with incarceration for one year or less to be a misdemeanor.
Encyclopedia
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

 act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished
Punishment
Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong by an individual or group....

 much less severely than felonies
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions (also known as minor, petty or summary offence
Summary offence
A summary offence is a criminal act in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment .- United States :...

s) and regulatory offences. Many misdemeanors are punished with monetary fines.

Contravention
Contravention
In many civil law countries contravention is a less serious crime, similar to misdemeanor in common law countries. The term is also used in Australian law...

s are similar to misdemeanors in many civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 countries (e.g. France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 etc.).

Distinction between felonies and misdemeanors

In the United States, the federal government generally considers a crime punishable with incarceration for one year or less to be a misdemeanor. All other crimes are considered felonies. Many states also employ this distinction.

A misdemeanor is considered a crime of low seriousness
Seriousness
Seriousness is an attiude of gravity, solemnity, persistence, and earnestness toward something considered to be of importance....

, and a felony one of high seriousness.
A principal of the rationale for the degree punishment meted out is that the punishment should fit the crime. One standard for measurement is the degree to which a crime affects others or society. Measurements of the degree of seriousness of a crime have been developed.

The distinction between felonies and misdemeanors has been abolished by several other common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 jurisdictions (e.g. Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

). Those jurisdictions have generally adopted some other classification: in the Commonwealth nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, the crimes are divided into summary offence
Summary offence
A summary offence is a criminal act in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment .- United States :...

s and indictable offence
Indictable offence
In many common law jurisdictions , an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury...

s. Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, a former member of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, also uses these divisions.

Typical misdemeanors and sentences

In some jurisdictions, those who are convict
Convict
A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison", sometimes referred to in slang as simply a "con". Convicts are often called prisoners or inmates. Persons convicted and sentenced to non-custodial sentences often are not termed...

ed of a misdemeanor are known as misdemeanants (as contrasted with those convicted of a felony
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

 who are known as felons). Depending on the jurisdiction, examples of misdemeanors may include: petty theft
Theft
In common usage, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's permission or consent. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting and fraud...

, prostitution
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

, public intoxication
Public intoxication
Public intoxication, also known as "drunk and disorderly", is a summary offense in many countries rated to public cases or displays of drunkenness...

, simple assault
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

, disorderly conduct
Disorderly conduct
Disorderly conduct is a criminal charge in most jurisdictions in the United States. Typically, disorderly conduct makes it a crime to be drunk in public, to "disturb the peace", or to loiter in certain areas. Many types of unruly conduct may fit the definition of disorderly conduct, as such...

, trespass
Trespass
Trespass is an area of tort law broadly divided into three groups: trespass to the person, trespass to chattels and trespass to land.Trespass to the person, historically involved six separate trespasses: threats, assault, battery, wounding, mayhem, and maiming...

, vandalism
Vandalism
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

, drug possession
Drug possession
Drug possession is the crime of having one or more illegal drugs in one's possession, either for personal use, distribution, sale or otherwise. Illegal drugs fall into different categories and sentences vary depending on the amount, type of drug, circumstances, and jurisdiction.A person has...

, reckless driving
Reckless driving
Reckless driving is a major moving traffic violation. As a legal term, it is used within the United States. This offence has been abolished in the United Kingdom and replaced...

, and other similar crimes.

Punishments for misdemeanors

In the United States, misdemeanors are typically crimes with a maximum punishment of 12 months of incarceration
Incarceration
Incarceration is the detention of a person in prison, typically as punishment for a crime .People are most commonly incarcerated upon suspicion or conviction of committing a crime, and different jurisdictions have differing laws governing the function of incarceration within a larger system of...

, typically in a local jail (again, as contrasted with felons, who are typically incarcerated in a prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

). Jurisdictions such as Massachusetts are a notable exception where the maximum punishment of some misdemeanors is up to 2.5 years. Those people who are convicted of misdemeanors are often punished with probation
Probation
Probation literally means testing of behaviour or abilities. In a legal sense, an offender on probation is ordered to follow certain conditions set forth by the court, often under the supervision of a probation officer...

, community service
Community service
Community service is donated service or activity that is performed by someone or a group of people for the benefit of the public or its institutions....

, short jail term, or part-time imprisonment
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

; served on the weekends.

Misdemeanors usually do not result in the loss of civil rights (though in jurisdictions such as Massachusetts they commonly do), but may result in loss of privileges, such as professional licenses, public offices, or public employment. Such effects are known as the collateral consequences of criminal charges
Collateral consequences of criminal charges
Collateral consequences of criminal conviction, commonly referred to as the "Four C's" are the additional civil state penalties, mandated by statute, that attach to criminal convictions. They are not part of the direct consequences of criminal conviction, such as incarceration, fines, and/or...

. This is more common when the misdemeanor is related to the privilege in question (such as the loss of a taxi
Taxicab
A taxicab, also taxi or cab, is a type of vehicle for hire with a driver, used by a single passenger or small group of passengers, often for a non-shared ride. A taxicab conveys passengers between locations of their choice...

 driver's license after a conviction for reckless driving
Reckless driving
Reckless driving is a major moving traffic violation. As a legal term, it is used within the United States. This offence has been abolished in the United Kingdom and replaced...

), or when the misdemeanor involves moral turpitude
Moral turpitude
Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States that refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals." It appears in U.S. immigration law from the nineteenth century...

and in general is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. One prominent example of this is found in the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

, which provides that the President may be impeached by Congress for "high crimes and misdemeanors" and removed from office accordingly. The definition of a "high crime" is left to the judgment of Congress.

In Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, misdemeanors generally are sentenced to months of jail sentence but with individual crimes suspects are sentenced to a harsher sentence. The penalty of vandalism
Vandalism
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

 is a fine
Fine
A fine is money paid usually to superior authority, usually governmental authority, as punishment for a crime or other offence. The amount of a fine can be determined case by case, but it is often announced in advance....

 not exceeding S$2,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years, and also corporal punishment
Corporal punishment
Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable...

 of not less than three strokes and not more than eight strokes of the cane.

Misdemeanor classes

Depending on the jurisdiction, several classes of misdemeanors may exist; the forms of punishment can vary widely between those classes. For example, the federal and state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 governments in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 divide misdemeanors into several classes, with certain classes punishable by jail time and others carrying only a fine.

Unclassified misdemeanors

When a statute does not specify the class, it is referred to as an unclassified misdemeanor. Legislators usually enact such laws when they wish to impose penalties that fall outside the framework specified by each class. For instance, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 has four classes of misdemeanors, with Class 1 and Class 2 misdemeanors being punishable by twelve-month and six-month jail sentences, respectively, and Class 3 and Class 4 misdemeanors being non-jail offenses payable by fines. As first-time cannabis
Cannabis (drug)
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug or for medicinal purposes. The English term marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish word marihuana...

 possession
Drug possession
Drug possession is the crime of having one or more illegal drugs in one's possession, either for personal use, distribution, sale or otherwise. Illegal drugs fall into different categories and sentences vary depending on the amount, type of drug, circumstances, and jurisdiction.A person has...

 is an unclassified misdemeanor in that state, state lawmakers have made it punishable by up to 30 days in jail rather than the normal fines and jail sentences of the four classes.

Federal Republic of Germany

A felony (Verbrechen) is defined as a crime that is punishable with at least one year of imprisonment.

Misdemeanours (Vergehen) are all other crimes punishable by imprisonment of less than one year or by fine.

However, in some cases a very severe version misdemeanour may be punished with imprisonment of more than one year, yet the crime itself remains considered a misdemeanour. Same applies for a milder version of a felony that is punishable with imprisonment less then a year.

An attempt to commit a felony crime is always punishable whilst an attempt to commit a misdemeanour is solely punishable if particularly prescribed by law.

A plea bargain
Plea bargain
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.A plea bargain allows criminal defendants to...

 (Strafbefehl) is only applicable for misdemeanours, not for felonies.

See also

  • Convicted felon
  • Federal crime
    Federal crime
    In the United States, a federal crime or federal offense is a crime that is made illegal by U.S. federal legislation. In the United States, criminal law and prosecution happen at both the federal and the state levels; thus a “federal crime” is one that is prosecuted under federal criminal law, and...

  • Felony
    Felony
    A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

  • Indictable offence
    Indictable offence
    In many common law jurisdictions , an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury...

  • Infraction
  • Misdemeanor murder
    Misdemeanor murder
    Misdemeanor murder is a slang term used to describe a situation in which a person is suspected of murder, but there is not enough evidence to convict the suspect of murder in court. The suspect is then either released without charges or the suspect receives a sentence that is similar to a sentence...

  • Summary offence
    Summary offence
    A summary offence is a criminal act in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment .- United States :...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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