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What Does Gross Misdemeanor Mean?

What Does Gross Misdemeanor Mean?

Under the law of the United States, a gross misdemeanor is a crime which is considered to be more serious than a regular misdemeanor, but not grave enough to be classified as a serious crime. Here's more...
Anuj Mudaliar
Did You Know?
If a person fails to turn up at court in case of a gross misdemeanor case, it can result in the court issuing a bench warrant, which can result in an arrest of the person deemed to be in contempt of court.
What is a Gross Misdemeanor?
Under US law, gross misdemeanors are crimes which are considered to be less serious than a felony, but more than a misdemeanor. Gross misdemeanors are not felonies, as felonies are classified under serious crimes, while all kinds of misdemeanors come under minor crimes. Offenses such as petty theft, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or just simple assault are considered as gross misdemeanors. Usually, the maximum sentence for such offenses include one year of imprisonment in a county jail and USD 5,000 in fines. Such cases are usually handled in a Court of Limited Jurisdiction.
Misdemeanors Vs. Gross Misdemeanors
Penalties: This is the primary factor in differentiating between a misdemeanor and a gross misdemeanor. Depending on the state and the nature of the crime, petty misdemeanors can be punished by imprisonment of up to 90 days and a fine of USD 1,000. On the other hand, gross misdemeanor penalties, in Washington state for example, include up to a year in jail or USD 5,000 fine, or both. It is important to note that such records do not stay in the criminal record of a person. However, due to background check records of misdemeanors for repeat offenders, it becomes difficult for a person to get a job or live life normally.

Crimes: Minor misdemeanors can be classified as crimes such as the use of abusive or threatening language, disorderly conduct, driving with an invalid license, intentional obstruction of traffic or occasions of emotional significance such as funerals, etc. Examples of crimes that are classified as gross misdemeanors include driving under the influence, hit-and-run cases in which the victim does not die, domestic violence, indecency, stalking, petty theft, etc. Also offenders of petty misdemeanors who repeat the crime three or more times are considered as having committed a gross misdemeanor. Typically, a gross misdemeanor record has a waiting time of around 5 years, before it is sealed.
Process of Gross Misdemeanor
If a person is arrested for gross misdemeanor, law enforcement authorities have to send a report to the prosecution with all the evidence related to the charges. If the prosecution decides that enough evidence exists, a summons will be sent to tell when the subject has to appear in court, either to the subject's home or to the jail in cases of imprisonment due to drunk driving, etc. If this is not the case, the prosecutor may ask the law enforcement agency for more evidence, or dismiss the charges.
If a person is unsure about the details of the court order, clarifications can be made through the officers of the court. Normally, the accused is entitled to a preliminary hearing, where the prosecution has to convince the judge with enough evidence about the charges. If enough evidence is presented, the case may be negotiated in the justice court or a district court. If a plead deal is reached, the case will move on to sentencing, and if not, the case will go to trial by a jury.
One can also consult a misdemeanor attorney who specializes in these type of crimes if the need arises. The attorney might be able to look for flaws in the case, to get it thrown out of court, or work out a deal to lessen the sentence.