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.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
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.
- Colorado Legal Defense Group: Class 2 Misdemeanors in Colorado (C.R.S. 18-1.3-501)
- Hale Criminal Law: What is a Misdemeanor
- Virginia Law: § 18.2-11. Punishment for Conviction of Misdemeanor
- Greenspun Law: The Serious Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction Should not be Taken Lightly
- Criminal Defense Lawyer: Colorado Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences
- Legalmatch: Class A Misdemeanors
- Legalmatch: Misdemeanor Expungement
- Cornell Law: False Imprisonment