Misdemeanor Charges: Types, Classes, and Penalties

Millions of misdemeanor records exist in databases across the United States; trying to find a single one can be a near impossible task. While a misdemeanor charges search engine can help you accomplish this easily, you’ll first want to understand what misdemeanors are.

In simple terms, a misdemeanor is a crime considered less serious than a felony. But that doesn't fully describe what these charges entail. Let’s look at the common types of misdemeanors, their categorization classes, and what penalties accompany those charges.

misdemeanor charges

What Are The Common Types Of Misdemeanor Charges?

In most states, misdemeanors fall into two categories: simple and gross. Simple misdemeanors tend to carry lighter sentences, while gross misdemeanors can mean heftier fines and more jail time.

Simple misdemeanors, which can be punished with up to 90 days in county jail, can include:

  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Negligent driving
  • Public urination
  • Hunting and fishing violations
  • Disorderly conduct

Gross misdemeanors, which can be punished with up to 364 days in county jail, can include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Trespassing
  • Hit and run of an occupied vehicle
  • Telephone harassment
  • Possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia

The length of your sentence and fine amount depend on what factors influenced the original action and your prior criminal history. Multiple misdemeanors can co-occur and be charged as such, stacking jail time and fines.

Different Misdemeanor Classes

For a large part of the country, there are four different classes of misdemeanor charges: Class A, Class B, Class C, and Class D. Many states have different classification systems, and some do not have Class D misdemeanors. Other areas have “levels” instead of classes; check the classifications in your state to see how misdemeanors are categorized.

misdemeanor charges

Class A

Class A is the highest misdemeanor designation and denotes crimes of a more severe nature. These actions are almost always gross misdemeanors and can be close to felony charges. What determines a Class A misdemeanor changes from state to state, with jail time and fines determined by that particular state’s legislation.

Here are some examples from various states:

  • Harassment with a prior conviction: In Texas, those who harass another party and have a prior harassment conviction can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This can result in up to one year in county jail.
  • Child endangerment: In Minnesota, specific child endangerment cases qualify as a Class A gross misdemeanor. These cases involve allowing a child to be present in a location where drug manufacturing, sales, or possession is occurring.
  • Possession of a credit card for the purposes of fraud: In Connecticut, possession of anything defined as a “personal identifying information device” with the intent to commit fraud like information alteration can result in a Class A charge. These devices include items like a credit or debit card.
  • Criminal trespass of a vehicle: In Illinois, entering a vehicle, whether that be a car, aircraft, or watercraft, qualifies as criminal trespassing. This is a Class A misdemeanor charge and can land the defendant in county jail for up to one year.
  • Failure to secure a dangerous animal: In Arizona, those who own animals with a history of attack or endangerment of others can be charged with a Class 1 (Arizona’s Class A) misdemeanor. If they fail to secure the animal properly and it escapes an enclosed area, their case can be brought to trial

Class B

The second-highest level, Class B misdemeanors, often involve sentences of less than a year (closer to 6 months) and fines in the low thousands. Examples include:

  • Aggravated criminal trespass: In Tennessee, a person who knowingly enters a private residence without owner consent can get a Class B charge.
  • Possession of up to 2oz of marijuana: In Texas, possession of up to 2oz of marijuana can result in a Class B misdemeanor, 180 days in jail, and a fine of up to $2000.
  • Using electronic communications for harassment: In Illinois, using technology to harass someone, often referred to as “cyberbullying,” can result in a Class B charge.

Class C

Class C is the least serious misdemeanor charge in states without a Class D level. Punishments generally include up to 30 days in jail and a small fine. Examples include:

  • Public intoxication: In Tennessee, being intoxicated in public can get you a Class C charge along with minor fines and jail time.
  • Theft worth less than $100: In Texas, petty theft of less than $100 is a Class C misdemeanor. This doesn’t result in jail time but can carry a fine of up to $500.
  • Simple assault: In Illinois, doing something to make a person fear being hurt is considered a Class C misdemeanor.

Class D

In states that have Class D misdemeanors, this is the lowest class. One of the few states with this designation, Connecticut, usually charges a fine of up to $250 and a jail sentence of up to 30 days.

Misdemeanor Charges and Penalties

The specific charge someone will receive and the penalties accompanying that charge will differ from state to state.

  • For Class A misdemeanor charges, the penalty will most likely be up to a year in county jail and several thousand dollars in fines.
  • For Class B misdemeanors, the penalty is less than a year (closer to 6 months) in county jail and a slightly smaller fine.
  • For Class C misdemeanors, the penalty can be a minor jail sentence of up to 30 days and a fine of under $2000.
  • For Class D and lower misdemeanors, there can be no assigned jail time and a much smaller fine.

Misdemeanor Records Can Be Easy To Find With The Right Tools

Whether you want to find a record of a potential employee, new roommate, and current partner, there are search engines that can help. You also may want to see whether your own records exist on public databases. If you want to find your information or the information of others, the best tool you can use is Records Finder. We can acquire Class A, B, C, and D misdemeanor records for an affordable price. Try our search engine today!