Connecticut, like most states, divides crimes into felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors in Connecticut are punishable by up to 364 days in jail. Felonies are more serious crimes, punishable by state prison terms of one year or longer.
Connecticut designates four misdemeanor classes—A, B, C, and D—with class A being the most serious and class D the least. A person convicted of a misdemeanor can face jail time and fines. Below are the maximum penalties that may be imposed and examples of crimes in each misdemeanor class.
Class A misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanors in Connecticut, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Examples of class A misdemeanors include prostitution, third-degree assault, criminal trespass, joyriding, and inciting a riot.
A class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Examples of class B misdemeanors include unlawful assembly, third-degree stalking, public indecency, and reckless endangerment.
A class C misdemeanor conviction can result in a jail term of up to three months and a fine of up to $500. Examples of class C misdemeanors include petty larceny, disorderly conduct, second-degree harassment, and smoking marijuana while driving.
Class D misdemeanors are the least serious misdemeanors in Connecticut, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250. Examples of class D misdemeanors include throwing objects at cars and smoking marijuana as a vehicle passenger.
(Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-26, 53a-36, 53a-42, 53a-44 (2023).)
A person who commits repeat misdemeanor offenses can face enhanced penalties under Connecticut law. For instance, a person who commits a second hate crime will have the offense level for their current crime increased by one misdemeanor degree. If a person's current offense is a class A misdemeanor, the law bumps it up to a class D or E felony. Similar enhancements apply to offenders who commit repeat acts of assault, stalking, trespassing, harassment, and protection order violations, as well as those convicted of a third offense for misdemeanor larceny or drug possession.
(Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-40, 53a-40a, 53a-40d (2023).)
While incarceration is a possibility, Connecticut law authorizes several sentencing options that avoid jail time. Certain nonviolent offenders might even qualify for a pretrial diversion program that avoids a conviction.
Defendants who are placed in pretrial diversion programs must generally agree to, and abide by all, program terms. Completion of the diversion terms may result in the dismissal of their charges. Examples of pretrial diversion programs include those focused on accelerated rehabilitation, veterans, alcohol education, drug education and community service programs, and behavioral health.
(Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 54-56e, 54-56g, 54-56i, 54-56l (2023).)
For those who don't qualify for pretrial diversion, the judge might allow a defendant to serve all or part of their sentence in the community under probation or on conditional or unconditional discharge. Probation and discharge sentences generally require a defendant to abide by certain terms to remain free in the community. Common conditions include remaining law abiding, maintaining employment, attending treatment or counseling, avoiding substances and alcohol, and staying away from any victims.
(Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-28, 53a-29, 53a-30 (2023).)
A criminal conviction, even for a misdemeanor, can have serious consequences. If you are facing any criminal charges, contact a Connecticut criminal defense attorney. An attorney can tell you what to expect in court, based on the charges and the assigned judge and prosecutor. With an attorney's help, you can present the strongest possible defense.