Today we’ll be discussing misdemeanor as an offense. More so, its distinctions from felony, penalties in various jurisdictions like the United kingdom, Singapore, UK etc will be examined. happy reading…
A misdemeanor is a type of offence punishable under criminal law. A misdemeanor is typically a crime punishable by less than 12 months in jail, Community service, probation, fines, and imprisonment for less than a year are commonly issued punishments for misdemeanors. More grievous crimes, felonies, carry stiffer penalties, including jail term of more than 12 months. misdemeanor is classified under different categories depending on the seriousness of the crime and its punishment. In most cases, if a misdemeanor is not classified by a letter grade in the section defining it, the misdemeanor is classified as follows:
- Class A: if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is one year or less but more than six months.
- Class B: if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is six months or less but more than thirty days.
- Class C: if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is thirty days or less but more than five days.
However, some states do not classify misdemeanors by categories. Thus, the sentencing is made on a crime-by-crime basis.
A misdemeanor is any ‘lesser’ smaller’ criminal act in some common law jurisdictions. Misdemeanors are generally punished less severely than more serious felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions (also known as minor, petty, or summary offences) and regulatory offences. However, misdemeanor are punished with monetary fines or community service.
See also- Complicity in Crime; Corporate Criminal Liability; Accomplice in crime; Mens rea; Concurrence; Causation; Actus Reus; Burglary; Child Abuse; Manslaughter; Criminal Attempt; Homicide; Rape; Injunction;
Misdemeanor vs felonies distinguished
A misdemeanor is considered a crime of lesser seriousness, and a felony one of greater seriousness. The maximum punishment for a misdeamenor is less than that of a felony under the principle that the punishment shoul fit the crime. One standard for measurement is the degree to which a crime affects others or society. Measurements of the degree of seriousness of a crime have been developed.
In United States, the federal government generally considers a crime punishable with incarceration for not more than one year, or lesser penalty, to be a misdemeanor. All other crimes are considered felonies. Many US states also employ the same or a similar distinction.
The distinction between felonies and misdemeanor has been abolished by several common law jurisdictions, notably the UK and Australia. These jurisdictions have generally adopted some other classification (in the UK the substance of the original distinction remains, only slightly altered): in the Commonwealth nations of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, the crimes are divided to summary offences and indictable offences. The Republic of Ireland, a former member of the Commonwealth, also uses these divisions.
In some jurisdictions, those who are convicted of a misdemeanor are known as misdemeanants (as contrasted with those convicted of a felony who are known as felons). Depending on the jurisdiction, examples of misdemeanors may include: petty theft, prostitution, public intoxication, simple assault, disorderly conduct, trespass, shoplifting, vandalism, reckless driving, indecent exposure, and possession of cannabis for personal use.
When it becomes a felony?
In the United States, even if a criminal charge for the defendant’s conduct is normally a misdemeanor, sometimes a repeat offender will be charged with a felony offense. For example, the first time a person commits certain crimes, such as spousal assault, it is normally a misdemeanor, but the second time it may become a felony. Other may be upgraded to felonies based on context. For example, in some jurisdictions the crime of indecent exposure might normally be classified as a misdemeanor, but be charged as a felony when committed in front of a minor.
Penalties for misdemeanor
Misdemeanor usually do not result in the restriction of civil rights, but may result in loss of privileges, such as professional licenses, public offices, or public employment. Such effects are known as the collateral consequences of criminal charges. This is more common when the misdemeanor is related to the privilege in question (such as the loss of a taxi driver’s license after a conviction for reckless driving), or when the misdemeanor is deemed to involve moral turpitude and in general is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Misdemeanor in United States
In the United States, misdemeanor are typically crimes with a maximum punishment of 12 months of incarceration, typically in a local jail as contrasted with felons, who are typically incarcerated in a prison. Jurisdictions such as Massachusetts are a notable exception; the maximum punishment of some misdemeanors there is up to 2.5 years. People who are convicted of misdemeanors are often punished with probation, community service, short jail term, or part-time incarceration such as a sentence that may be served on the weekends.
The United States Constitution provides that the President may be impeached and subsequently removed from office if found guilty by Congress for “high crimes and misdemeanors”. A used in the Constitution, the term misdemeanor refers broadly to criminal acts as opposed to employing the felony-misdemeanor distinction used in modern criminal codes. The definition of what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors” for purposes of impeachment is left to the judgment of Congress.
In Singapore, defendants found guilty of misdemeanors are generally given a jail sentence of a number of months, but with certain specific crimes, suspects are sentenced to a harsher sentence. An example is the penalty imposed for vandalism, which is a fine not exceeding $2,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years, and also corporal punishment of not less than three strokes a nd not more than eight strokes with the use of a cane.
Classes of Misdemeanor
Depending on the jurisdiction, several classes of misdemeanors may exist; the forms of punishment can vary widely between those classes. For example, the federal and some state governments in the United States divide misdemeanors into several classes, with certain classes punishable by jail term and others carrying only fine. In New York law, a Class A Misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year of imprisonment, while a Class B Misdemeanor “shall not exceed three months”.
In the United States, when a statute does not specify the class of a misdemeanor, it may be referred to as an unclassified misdemeanor. Legislators usually enact such laws when they wish to impose penalties that fall outside the framework specified by each class. For example, Virginia has four classes of misdemeanors, with Class 1 and Class 2 being punishable by twelve-month jail sentences, respectively, and Class 3 and Class 4 misdemeanor being non-jail offenses payable by fines. New York has three classes of misdemeanors: A, B, and Unclassified.