Misdemeanor : Meaning, Classification, and Examples

There are various crimes that place in the society since crimes are deviant behavior it is often considered appropriate that they entail consequences or punishment, this punishment is decided based on the seriousness of the crime. Thus they differ in their degree or class and their seriousness. Based on these crimes are divided into infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Misdemeanors are crimes of lesser degree in terms of their punishment and are less serious, they are less serious in felonies, however they are more serious than infractions, while infractions are petty offenses which may entail punishment through fine and no jail time at all, misdemeanors on the other hand entail punishments through both fines and jail time, however the incarceration maybe a year or less, they entail probation and sometimes even community service. Felonies are more serious offenses than an infraction and even a misdemeanor. They are subject to most serious punishments.

Misdemeanors are divided into three classes, high or gross (class A misdemeanor), ordinary (class B) and petty (class C). A gross misdemeanor is usually a crime of a higher degree, however still a misdemeanor, e.g. sexual assault, would be an example of a gross misdemeanor, assault such as eve-teasing, catcalling or molestation or even harassment at the workplace, however, sexual assault that may cause harm to another individual such as rape will come under the category of a felony. An ordinary misdemeanor would be an offense as pickpocketing. And petty misdemeanor would be something that may even often be overlooked such as speeding on road.

Often there is a distinction made between misdemeanors and felonies and felonies are given priority, however in some countries around the world this distinction has been abolished such as in the United Kingdom and Australia, they use other forms of distinction such as a distinction may be made between what are known as summary offences, which as petty offences and they can be proceeded without the involvement of the jury and indictable offences, which are offences that can only be proceeded with a formal charge of a serious crime.

Misdemeanors may often be converted into felonies if committed more than once, or at times what will be considered as a misdemeanor or felony may depend on the context. E.g. indecent exposure, is a misdemeanor, however, done in front of a minor it may amount to a felony. At the same time there may be some misdemeanors which are not classified or simply put, not recognized by law even as a misdemeanor, these are known as an unclassified misdemeanor.

Misdemeanors thus are punished legally even though they may not be considered to be very major crimes, depending on their degree. They are seen as less offensive but crimes nonetheless. However there are crimes that are neither recognized as a felony or as a misdemeanor, there are known as ‘Wobblers’. In such cases, it is left open for those giving punishment to decide whether they are to be classified as a misdemeanor or felony.

Also read, Corporate Crimes







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