Criminal Law · April 7, 2021

What is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor crime is a minor offense and more often than not requires no more than the following:

  • Fine
  •  A year in prison
  • Community service
  • Probation

A felony is a more serious crime with stronger consequences. Felony crimes include crimes such as:

  • Murder
  • Robbery
  • Theft
  • Burglary
  • Identity theft
  • Forgery

Fortunately, with a misdemeanor, it is easier to time in jail with misdemeanor crimes than with felonies.

Common Misdemeanor Crimes

Common misdemeanor crimes include:

  • OWI
  • Marijuana possession
  • Perjury
  • Resisting arrest
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Violating a restraining order

There are misdemeanors that can quickly escalate into felonies or can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. These crimes are called wobblers.  Essentially, A “wobbler” is a criminal offense that can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor violation. In the world of criminal law, there are several common offenses that a prosecutor can choose to charge as either a misdemeanor or depending upon the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. Threatening to assault someone would be considered a misdemeanor while committing the assault, even more so if a weapon is involved, would be a felony.

Misdemeanors Can Show Up on Background Checks

Misdemeanor crimes can definitely show up on background checks, as they stay on a person’s criminal record indefinitely. However, whether or not they will is another question. If a misdemeanor is prosecuted locally, and a background check is only done on a state or federal level, the misdemeanor charge likely won’t show up. What’s more, even if an employer runs a local background check, more than likely, the misdemeanor will not appear on the background check if it was prosecuted in a different county.

A  Misdemeanor is an Offense

So in short, a misdemeanor is a minor offense that the government punishes with:

  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Community services
  • Up to a year in prison

While there are some differences between states on what exactly is considered a misdemeanor, the level of punishment is a good indication of whether or not that state considers the crime a misdemeanor or a felony.