What is a Misdemeanor?

In the United States, misdemeanors are typically crimes with a maximum punishment of 12 months of incarceration. Those people who are convicted of misdemeanors are often punished with probation, community service, short jail term, or part-time imprisonment; 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. This is more common when the misdemeanor is related to the privilege in question (such as the loss of a taxi driver's license after a conviction for reckless driving).

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 governments in the United States divide misdemeanors into several classes, with certain classes punishable by jail time and others carrying only a fine.

Some other examples of misdemeanors would be driving with a suspended license ( a 3rd degree misdemeanor), no valid drivers license, possession of less than 40 grams of marijuana, and criminal trespass (a 2nd degree misdemeanor).