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Convicted of a Misdemeanor
(Definition and 9 Most Common Examples)

A misdemeanor offense is less serious than a felony, but worse than an infraction, and may involve fines and even jail time if you are convicted.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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What is a Misdemeanor Conviction?

A misdemeanor is usually defined as a crime that is punishable by under one year in county jail. Community service, probation, fines, and imprisonment for less than a year are commonly issued punishments for misdemeanors.

In most states, misdemeanors are classified by letter grades as follows:

  • Class A: Maximum term of imprisonment is 1 year or less but greater than 6 months.
  • Class B: Maximum term of imprisonment is 6 months or less but more than 30 days.
  • Class C: Maximum term of imprisonment is 30 days or less but more than 5 days.

Misdemeanor vs Felony

The most severe crimes in the United States are classified as felonies. A felony includes crimes like murder, terrorism, and drug trafficking. Felony crimes can be punishable by up to life in prison, and in certain states, capital crimes are punishable by death.

Minor offenses are defined as misdemeanors. The U.S. Government generally considers all crimes where the maximum sentence is one year or less a misdemeanor.

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Misdemeanor Examples

Examples of misdemeanors include:

  1. Minor drug offenses
  2. Drunk driving
  3. Petty theft (shoplifting)
  4. Minor or simple assault or battery
  5. Trespassing
  6. Vandalism
  7. Minor sex crimes (solicitation, prostitution, indecent exposure)
  8. Resisting arrest
  9. Certain cybercrimes (i.e. stalking, bullying)

Also Read: California Misdemeanor Sentencing Guidelines

Do Misdemeanors Show Up on Background Checks?

Yes. A misdemeanor conviction will always show up on a background check. Even if you served your time and completed your sentence in the eyes of the law, a potential employer or landlord will still see the conviction on your record.

Related Article: Committing a Misdemeanor While Out on Bail

Can You Get a Misdemeanor Off Your Record?

If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense, you may have the right to expunge your conviction from your record. This process can give you peace of mind, as your personal and professional life will no longer be held back by the stigma of a criminal past.

Many kinds of convictions can be expunged so long as the sentence didn’t involve prison time. Examples of misdemeanor crimes that may be expunged include:

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