Both federal and state governments define criminal offenses according degree of severity. The two major classes of crime are felonies and misdemeanors, with felonies as the more serious charges. These two offense categorizations are further segregated into degrees.
According to the federal government, a misdemeanor is defined as a crime punishable by no more than one year in jail. Misdemeanors are also classified as first, second or third degree. A third-degree misdemeanor is the least serious charge and usually carries lighter punishment.
Because states define crimes independently of the federal government, what is considered a misdemeanor, of any degree, can vary across state borders. For instance, while conviction of a third-degree misdemeanor in Missouri is punishable with prison time and a $300 fine, conviction of a third-degree misdemeanor in Wisconsin can result in twice the amount of jail time and a fine of up to $500. To find out what acts are considered third-degree misdemeanors, review individual state laws and crime classifications
Common examples of misdemeanors include simple assault, disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, domestic violence, indecent exposure, trespassing, prostitution, public intoxication, minor theft and vandalism.