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Definition - What does Misdemeanor mean?

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is more serious than a minor infraction but less serious than a felony. It is punishable by a fine and/or jail term of up to one year. Misdemeanors have been classified by the state and federal government in the United States. Some classes are punishable by fine while other misdemeanors involve jail time.

Justipedia explains Misdemeanor

Crimes in the United States federal criminal code are classified according to their severity. The two main classifications are felonies and misdemeanors. Essentially, a misdemeanor is considered a less serious crime. It carries a maximum punishment of 12 months of jail time. In some states, certain misdemeanors may carry a maximum punishment of 24 months of jail time. Examples of misdemeanors include reckless driving, disorderly conduct, petty theft, and prostitution. In a few states, possession of marijuana and certain other drugs is also classified under misdemeanors.

The federal and state governments classify misdemeanors in classes. These classes differ according to jurisdiction. Generally, the classification is done on the basis of punishment. For example, crimes carrying lesser punishments like fines or community service are put in one class. Crimes carrying more severe punishment, like more than six months of jail time. are segregated into another.

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