Misdemeanor Crimes: Classes and Penalties

Most states and the federal criminal code have classified their misdemeanors into classes or levels.

Related Ads
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Enter Your Zip Code to Connect with a Lawyer Serving Your Area
searchbox small

In all states and under the federal criminal code, a misdemeanor is a crime punishable by incarceration and, sometimes, a fine. A misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, but more so than an infraction (which typically does not involve jail time). Many states classify their misdemeanors by grouping the more severe crimes into class A (or level 1), class B (or level 2), and so on. Some states use other terms for each level, such as “misdemeanor,” and “gross misdemeanor.”

The purpose of grouping misdemeanors into classes or levels is to assign punishments that fit the level of the offense. For example, a state might specify that a class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in the county jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Then, for each misdemeanor crime, the state specifies the class it belongs to. Assault and battery that does not result in significant injury might be a class A misdemeanor, which tells you that the possible punishment would be the terms just noted.

Some states do not classify their misdemeanors—they simply assign a punishment right in the statute that describes or defines the crime. In the example above, for example, such a state would define the crime of simple assault and battery, then give the punishment in the same statute.

States That Classify Misdemeanors by Class or Level

The following states classify their misdemeanor crimes into classes or levels: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Thus, these states have class B or level 2 misdemeanors.

States That Classify Misdemeanors by Unique Terms

In these states, legislators did not use the terms “class” or “level,” but they did group their misdemeanor crimes by severity: Georgia (misdemeanors and misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature), Hawaii (petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor), Iowa (aggravated, serious, or simple), Minnesota (gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor, or petty misdemeanor), Nevada (gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor), New Jersey (disorderly person offense or petty disorderly person offense), New Mexico (petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor), Rhode Island (misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor), and Washington (gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor).

State-specific Information on Ranked Misdemeanors

For information on the crimes that a particular state has placed within its class, level, or other unique ranking system, consult the state links below.

State

Classification System

Alabama A, B, or C
Alaska A, B, or C
Arizona 1, 2 or 3
Arkansas A, B, or C
California By crime; if no punishment specified, up to 6 months, $1,000, or both
Colorado 1, 2, 3 or unclassified (by crime)
Connecticut A, B, C, or D; or unclassified (by crime)
Delaware A or B or unclassified
D.C. By crime
Florida First or second degree
Georgia "Misdemeanors" and "misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature"
Hawaii Petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor
Idaho By crime
Illinois A, B, or C
Indiana A, B, or C
Iowa Aggravated, serious, or simple
Kansas A, B, C or unclassified (same as C)
Kentucky A or B
Louisiana By crime
Maine D or E
Maryland By crime
Massachusetts By crime
Michigan By term: offenses punishable by incarceration of up to 93 days, or up to one year; and high court misdemeanors
Minnesota Gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor, or petty misdemeanor
Mississippi By crime
Missouri A, B, or C
Montana By crime
Nebraska I, II, III, IIIA, IV, or V
Nevada Gross misdemeanors or misdemeanors
New Hampshire A or B
New Jersey Disorderly person offense or petty disorderly person offense
New Mexico Petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor
New York A, B, or unclassified (by crime)
North Carolina A1, 1, 2, or 3
North Dakota A or B
Ohio First, second, third, fourth, or minor
Oklahoma By crime
Oregon A, B, C, or unclassified (by crime)
Pennsylvania First, second, or third degree
Rhode Island Misdemeanor (by crime) or petty misdemeanor (by crime)
South Carolina A, B, or C
South Dakota 1 or 2
Tennessee A, B, or C
Texas A, B, or C
Utah A, B, or C
Vermont By crime
Virginia 1, 2, 3, or 4, or by crime
Washington Gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor
West Virginia By crime
Wisconsin A, B, or C
Wyoming By crime

by: , Attorney

Talk to a Defense Lawyer

Charged with a crime? Start here to find a lawyer.
HOW IT WORKS
how it works 1
Briefly tell us about your case
how it works 2
Provide your contact information
how it works 1
Choose attorneys to contact you
LA-NOLO3:LDR.1.5.0.20140409.25642