A Class A misdemeanor can be a legal means of defining certain crimes in different regions. Misdemeanors are usually thought of as step-down crimes from felonies, but a Class A refers to the most serious misdemeanors in a given jurisdiction. This classification isn’t always used, and some areas use numbers instead of letters to denote how serious an offense is. It is equally vital to consider that whether a misdemeanor is Class A or Class 1, it can be punishable by both fines and jail time.
Giving examples of the Class A misdemeanor is somewhat challenging because of variation in how each region defines crimes. In Illinois, for instance, list of Class A misdemeanors includes endangering a child’s welfare, some forms of assault, engaging in prostitution or soliciting a prostitute, and driving under the influence. In contrast, some states, such as California, don’t class their misdemeanors, and some crimes could either be considered felonies or misdemeanors depending on the degree to which they are serious. These may be known as "wobblers."
Where the Class A misdemeanor or Class 1 misdemeanor exists, judges may have little or a lot of discrimination in interpreting charges and determining appropriate penalties. It’s possible that sometimes this charge won’t result in jail time, but occasionally a specific type of crime could have a mandatory jail sentence and mandatory minimum fine. While people often think of any misdemeanor as being a less severe crime, it doesn’t mean that committing one of these crimes means a pass when it comes to a trial. Instead, in some regions people could find themselves serving jail time of up to a year and paying fines in the tens of thousands of US Dollars (USD) as a result of committing such a crime.
Those charged with a Class A misdemeanor tend to need legal representation to either defend against the charges or to negotiate plea bargains bringing the charge down to a lesser offense. People facing felony charges may hope for bargaining that results in misdemeanor charges instead, even if the charge is Class A. There can be a very big jump between how a jurisdiction will consider a felony in terms of fines or imprisonment over a misdemeanor.
In either case, though, a person usually has a right to a trial to defend him or herself, but may not always exercise this right. If the misdemeanor results in fines only, the person may simply plead no contest and accept a sentence. With a Class A misdemeanor, where sentencing could result in jail time, this is not always a wise choice, unless there exists little possibility of successfully defending a case.