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  1. Here, a class C misdemeanor might max out at 90 days' jail time, class B misdemeanors go up to 180 days in jail, and class A misdemeanors carry the potential for a year in jail. Some states do not classify their misdemeanors—they simply assign a punishment right in the statute that describes or defines the crime.

  2. Misdemeanors Compared to Other Legal Matters. Misdemeanors are lesser crimes, compared to felonies, which are more serious crimes that carry stiffer penalties. First, let’s look at what distinguishes a crime, such as a misdemeanor, from other legal cases known as “civil” matters:

  3. Misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors include a wide range of offenses from low-level property crimes to assault, tampering with a witness, and child endangerment. Less serious offenses often fall under the misdemeanor category, while more serious offenses fall to the gross misdemeanor classification.

  4. Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that carry up to a year in jail in most states. (Some states have made the maximum imprisonment for many or all misdemeanors 364 days; that change is designed to avoid deportation consequences that would have been triggered if the misdemeanor in question carried the possibility of, or if the misdemeanor defendant actually received, a full one-year sentence.)

  5. Crimes are generally graded into four categories: felonies, misdemeanors, felony-misdemeanors, and infractions. Often the criminal intent element affects a crime’s grading. Malum in se crimes, murder, for example, are evil in their nature and are generally graded higher than malum prohibitum crimes, which are regulatory, like a failure to pay income taxes.

  6. The mildest crimes are known as infractions, more serious crimes are known as misdemeanors, and the most serious crimes are known as felonies. The classification of a crime influences both the substance and procedure of a criminal charge, so it's important to understand the differences between the classifications.

  7. “Gross” or “aggravated” misdemeanors,” punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 or more. 1; There are also certain crimes known as California “wobbler” offenses. These are crimes that the prosecutor can choose to charge as a misdemeanor or a felony (or, in some cases, a misdemeanor or an infraction).