A misdemeanor crime is less serious than a felony. Misdemeanor crimes usually are distinguished from felonies by the seriousness of injury caused to another person, the cash value of property taken, or the amount of drugs in a person's possession and whether there is proof of intent to sell or distribute the drugs. Michigan has three classes of misdemeanors: misdemeanors punishable by up to 93 days in jail, misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail, and high court misdemeanors which are punishable by up to two years in prison. High court misdemeanors are similar to felonies.
For information on felonies, see Michigan Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Misdemeanors punishable by up to 93 days in jail can be charged under state law or local laws, and some are crimes under both. Under state law, a person convicted of this misdemeanor can be sentenced to jail time or fined up to $500, or both.
A court can sentence a person convicted of this misdemeanor to jail or impose a fine up to $1,000, or both.
Misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail in Michigan include larceny (property valued at $200 or more but less than $1,000), retail fraud in the second degree (shoplifting), and intentional discharge of a firearm (but without intent to injure).
High court misdemeanors are punishable by up to two years in prison or a fine up to $2,000, or both. High court misdemeanors include indecent exposure and negligent homicide (by vehicle).
Michigan law requires that a criminal prosecution begin within a certain amount of time after a crime is committed or believed to have been committed. This criminal statute of limitations limits the length of time the state can wait before filing charges against a person. For more information on the criminal statute of limitations, see Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Michigan.
A conviction for a misdemeanor crime in Michigan can become part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A conviction for even a minor crime can hurt you when you are looking for a job, applying to rent a house or apartment, or applying for a professional license. A person convicted of misdemeanor possession of marijuana – even a tiny amount for personal use only – can be barred from ever receiving federal financial aid for students.
An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options, or represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.