In Georgia, misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by a sentence of one year or less in county jail.
More serious crimes (felonies) are punishable by terms of one year or more in state prison.
For more information on felonies in Georgia, see Georgia Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Misdemeanors in Georgia are divided into:
- misdemeanors, and
- misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature.
Misdemeanors are punishable by:
- a fine of up to $1,000
- up to 12 months in county jail
- both a fine and time in county jail, or
- up to 12 months in a state diversion center.
For example, simple battery (hitting someone) is a misdemeanor under Georgia’s laws.
See Georgia Assault and Battery Laws for more information.
Judges have the power to impose but suspend a misdemeanor sentence (allow the defendant to not serve some or all of the sentence), or impose a sentence and give the defendant a chance to complete probation (formal supervision) instead of going to jail. Both suspended sentences and probation are conditioned on the defendant following the conditions or restrictions the judge has imposed.
A judge may also permit a defendant who is sentenced to a term of six months or less to serve the term on weekends or during the defendant’s non-working hours.
(Ga. Code Ann. § 17-10-3.)
Misdemeanors of a High and Aggravated Nature
Misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 12 months in county jail.
For example, simple battery is a high and aggravated misdemeanor when the victim is a family member of the defendant or a person over the age of 65.
Judges may also place on probation or suspend the sentences of defendants convicted of misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature.
(Ga. Code Ann. § 17-10-4.)
Statutes of Limitations
Criminal prosecutions (other than prosecutions for murder) must begin within a certain period of time – the statute of limitations – from the date that the crime was committed. Misdemeanors have relatively short statutes of limitations.
For more information, see Georgia Criminal Statute of Limitations.
The Value of Legal Representation
A criminal conviction, even for a misdemeanor, can impose serious consequences that impact your life for years to come, even after you have served your sentence. If you are charged with any crime, you should contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney can tell you what to expect in court and help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.