Misdemeanor Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Misdemeanor, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Misdemeanor?

(n) Misdemeanor is the lower degree crimes like petty theft, simple assaults, driving with alcohol, traffic violations, public nuisance etc, which dose not warranty severe action and punishments but are dealt with fine and punishment for smaller term.

History and Meaning of Misdemeanor

Misdemeanor is a term used to describe a criminal offense that is considered less serious than a felony. The term has its roots in English Common Law and has been used in the United States legal system since colonial times. Misdemeanors are generally punishable by a fine or a short-term prison sentence of less than one year, whereas felonies carry more severe penalties.

Examples of Misdemeanor

  1. Shoplifting
  2. Disorderly conduct
  3. Driving under the influence (DUI)
  4. Simple assault
  5. Trespassing

Legal Terms Similar to Misdemeanor

  1. Felony - A more severe criminal offense than a misdemeanor, punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year.
  2. Infraction - A minor offense that is not considered a crime, such as a traffic violation.
  3. Indictment - The formal accusation of a serious crime, typically a felony, by a grand jury.
  4. Probation - A period of supervision that may be given as an alternative to incarceration.
  5. Arrest warrant - A legal document that authorizes law enforcement to make an arrest.