What Are Misdemeanors? - Definition, Classes, Types & Examples

Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

Learn what constitutes a misdemeanor crime. Review the definition and classes of misdemeanors. Analyze the different types of misdemeanor crimes, and examine some examples to gain a thorough understanding of this type of crime.

Definition

Did you ever have a friend who did something stupid while intoxicated? Maybe they vandalized a street sign or got into a fistfight? If they were caught by the police, they may have even been arrested for their actions. In these instances, your friend would have committed a misdemeanor while intoxicated.

A misdemeanor is a lower-level crime that has a punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine. In some states, the fine can go up to $5,000, but it is frequently in a lower range of up to $2,000 in the majority of states. Furthermore, one might receive probation as a penalty. Probation is when an individual receives mandated supervision by the court for a certain period of time instead of serving time in prison.

Classes

Misdemeanor crimes are classified by certain levels in most states. The classification is typically based upon how serious the crime is. For instance, a level A or level 1 misdemeanor will incur the maximum prison sentence and fine. However, a lower level, such as a level D or level 4 misdemeanor crime, will carry a lower prison sentence and fine.

Types

There are various types of misdemeanor crimes. Moreover, every state is different, so it's important to check the particular state where you live to see what constitutes a misdemeanor crime. However, generally the following are treated as misdemeanor crimes:

• petty theft

• trespass

• public intoxication

• indecent exposure

• shoplifting

• vandalism

• disorderly conduct

• assault

• driving without a license

Examples

Let's look at some examples to gain a better sense of what constitutes a misdemeanor crime.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support