What is a misdemeanor?

Misdemeanors are lesser serious violations of Georgia’s Criminal Codes, and include minor traffic offenses, up to major misdemeanors, such as Driving Under the Influence.

Misdemeanors are classified into standard, versus high and aggravated offenses, and penalties for such offenses vary based on the type and the criminal history of the accused. If you are convicted of a single standard misdemeanor, you may face up to one year in jail or up to a $1,000 fine, but you will also face court costs, probation, evaluations and assessment fees, drug and alcohol testing fees and other financial penalties. Community service, probation and restitution is also often ordered. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, however, you may face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

In the event that you find yourself charged with a misdemeanor, you have the legal right as a U.S. citizen to request a trial as established by the U.S. Constitution.

What’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

One typical differentiating factor between a misdemeanor and a felony is the severity of the alleged crime.

As an example, crimes of theft that fall under a certain dollar amount (i.e. petty theft or petty larceny) are generally classified or charged as misdemeanors. Conversely, those same crimes that fall over a certain dollar amount are classified and charged as grand larceny or grand theft (both felonies).

Examples of Misdemeanors

Other examples  of misdemeanors include:

  • Majority of DWI / DUI charges
  • Vandalism
  • Shoplifting
  • Prostitution

Types of Criminal Offenses

Criminal offenses fall under seven categories and vary depending on severity and circumstance. Under these, an individual can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

  • Serious Traffic Violations: Major traffic charges include super speeder, reckless driving, Driving Under the Influence, Driving on a Suspended License, Driving Without a License, Passing a School Bus, Speeding in a School Zone, etc. Convictions can amount to heightened penalties and repeat violators can be charged with felonies, as can offenders that cause severe bodily injury or death of another person.
  • Property Crimes: Misdemeanors involving another’s property of any kind, that result in harm of three hundred dollars or less. Includes, shoplifting, criminal trespass, theft by taking, criminal destruction of property, theft by receiving. More serious property crimes, such as burglary, arson, forgery, or robbery are felonies.
  • Sex Crimes: Misdemeanor sex crimes include sexual battery, indecent exposure, and pandering. Felony sex crimes include child molestation, possession of child pornography, and rape.
  • Violent Crimes: Any act of violence toward another person, including mental, physical, verbal threats, or contact are misdemeanor violent crimes. This included battery, assault, and stalking. Felonies include manslaughter, murder, and aggravated assault.
  • Drug Crimes: Drug crimes include manufacture, distribution, possession, and the sale of illegal drugs. Whether a crime is a misdemeanor or a felony is determined by the amount of drugs involved and the intent of the use of the drugs.
  • Crimes Against Public Order or Administration: Include crimes involving a public official, government body, or a breach of public peace fall. These involve public drunkenness, unlawful assembly, and disorderly conduct.
  • Domestic Violence Crimes: Domestic violence crimes are misdemeanors that are treated like felonies when the offense is against a spouse, child, or close family member. These charges cannot be dismissed once the prosecution has begun and punishment depends on the crime severity.

A Misdemeanor is Still Serious

Despite the lesser punishments associated with misdemeanors, these are still serious offenses that should not be taken lightly. Misdemeanors become part of your “criminal record” and may affect many aspects of your life. Misdemeanor or Felony convictions could be used against you in civil cases if you are sued for damages based on the outcome of the criminal act.They  can have permanent financial, employment, and emotional consequences of a serious nature.

Misdemeanors are regarded as a “crime of moral turpitude,” and as such, any individual with misdemeanors on their record may face challenges in obtaining:

  • An education / scholarships
  • Employment (background check)

Discuss Your Case At A Free Consultation

If you find yourself being accused of a misdemeanor, call the Law Firm of Caryn S. Fennell today for a free consultation at (770) 479-0248. We will exhaust every option available to get the most favorable option. Call our law firm today to meet with a knowledgeable, skilled criminal defense attorney.