How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?

By Danielle Smyth - Updated April 23, 2018
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Depending on your jurisdiction, misdemeanors may be defined slightly differently. However, all states consider a misdemeanor to be a lesser offense than a felony. Within the larger category of misdemeanors, most states break crimes further into classes such as A, 1, 2 and 3, ranging from most to least serious, respectively.

Tip

In most states, misdemeanors stay on your record indefinitely unless they are expunged.

What Is a Class 2 Misdemeanor?

The precise definition of a Class 2 Misdemeanor and the way it is treated in court differs slightly by state. In North Carolina, for instance, this type of crime includes assault, disorderly conduct, resisting a police officer and carrying a concealed weapon. Penalties for a Class 2 Misdemeanor max out at 60 days spent in jail and a $1,000 fine.

In Colorado, a Class 2 Misdemeanor includes crimes such as theft, second-degree arson, resisting arrest and running a place of prostitution. A Class 2 Misdemeanor also includes "criminal attempt" to commit a Class 1 Misdemeanor. The minimum penalty for this sort of crime is three months in jail and/or a $250 fine, while the maximum penalty is one year in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.

In Virginia, a Class 2 Misdemeanor can be punished with up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. The crimes that lead to these sentences include possession of class IV drugs, aggressive driving and possession of drug paraphernalia.

What Is a Class 3 Misdemeanor?

Class 3 Misdemeanors are less serious offenses than Class 2 crimes. They typically carry fines or shorter jail sentences. In Virginia, for instance, a fine of up to $500 may be charged for conviction of such a crime. In Colorado, fines of anywhere from $50 to $750 can be levied against someone convicted of a Class 3 Misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor crimes of this kind in North Carolina include possession of marijuana, concealing goods in a store and city code violations. In Colorado, they include criminal tampering, criminal invasion of privacy and false imprisonment (defined as restricting the movements of a person without cause, with or without physical restraints).

What Is a Class A Misdemeanor?

A Class A Misdemeanor is the most serious kind of misdemeanor in most states. Though every state defines these crimes slightly differently, they include things such as making a false report, unlawful possession of a weapon, perjury and property theft over $1,000. Depending on your state, fines for Class A Misdemeanors can range from $500 to $5,000, and jail time can be up to one year.

Can You Get a Misdemeanor Off Your Record?

Expungement, or sealing a record, means that a criminal incident and related information will no longer be available in the public record. If a record is sealed, it will no longer appear in background investigations and cannot be considered in future sentencing.

In most states, it is possible to get a misdemeanor off of your record. This is more commonly done in the instance of a juvenile who shows promise for excellent future behavior. Expungement typically requires a waiting period during which no further crimes are committed.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.

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