Misdemeanors are offenses that are not as grave as felonies, but are presumed to be more serious than petty crimes. Offenses falling under the category of Misdemeanor are classified under Class A, B, C. Therefore, misdemeanor falling with the ambit of Class A, is treated as the most serious offense in any given jurisdiction and as per the laws of each State. There are always some basic offenses which are common among all State laws and are considered equally grievous in nature. Another thing to remember is, some states denote misdemeanors under both Class A as well as Class 1, which have a set of different offenses as well as penalties. However, both these categories carry a term of imprisonment and fine.
Class A Punishment
The judges have sufficient discretion to adjudge whether an offender should be deemed a first time offender or if he should be treated as a repeat offender, in which case he may be treated as a felon. All state laws prescribe a confinement term of not more than one year (12 months) or a fine of USD 2,500 and sometimes a combination of both for this class of misdemeanor. Misdemeanants are required to be confined in local jails instead of federal prisons.
The term of one year imprisonment may be extended only in cases wherein, the misdemeanor aggravated to the extent of a felony. Such scenarios are rare but sometimes they do occur. Most offenders under this class of crime are ordered into probation, wherein they are expected to spend a few months or a maximum of two years in active social welfare and community service. Probation is a method of rehabilitation and self-improvement ordered by the state to help offenders improve their behavior towards society.
Class A Misdemeanor Examples
Misdemeanors result in the suspension of civil rights of the offender, such as loss of public office, professional licenses, and employment. Different offenses are tagged under various State laws that fall under Class A misdemeanor. Here are some of the common offenses found in almost all States:
- Assault with bodily injury
- Bail jumping of misdemeanor offense
- Unlawfully carrying a weapon
- Violation of protective order
- Drunk driving
- Bad checks (small amount)
- Burglary of coin operated machine
- Burglary of a vehicle
- Cruelty to animals
- DWI (2nd offense)
- Escape from misdemeanor custody
- Evading arrest on foot
- Interference with 911 call
- Possession of two to four ounces of marijuana
- Promoting gambling
- Public lewdness
- Resisting arrest
- Stealing check
This class of misdemeanor requires legal representation so that the charges can either be opposed or mitigated to a lesser offense. Either of which depends on what the courts finds through criminal background checks of the defendants. Following are some of the recourse that can be taken in order to reduce the extent of the judgment:
- Plea bargain
- Paying fine
- Community service
- Suspended sentence
- Diversion program
- Other rehabilitation programs
- Drug addiction program
In case only a fine has been imposed, it's safer to opt for the 'no contest' plea and pay the fine rather than face imprisonment. Those who plead 'guilty' or 'no contest' are then given the opportunity to discuss their case with a prosecutor. This helps the defendants know whether they have a chance to plea bargain so as to commute the term of their sentence. Those who plead 'not guilty' have the legal right to represent themselves or defend themselves through an attorney.
In case a probation has been ordered under this class of misdemeanor, the offender will be placed under the supervision of a probation officer. The misdemeanant will be required to follow some rules and regulations which include abiding curfew, not trespassing the boundaries of a particular jurisdiction, to seek employment, and to take active role in community service as directed.