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What is a Misdemeanor Conviction?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 23, 2024
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When a person is found guilty of a misdemeanor, he receives a misdemeanor conviction as well as any penalties that go along with it. Misdemeanors are crimes that are considered minor in a particular jurisdiction. Felonies are considered major or more serious crimes and result in felony convictions. The penalties for conviction of a misdemeanor are typically lighter than those given for felonious acts.

While misdemeanors are usually considered less serious crimes, the difference between a misdemeanor conviction and a felony conviction is often focused on the penalties involved. For example, a person may be convicted of theft, which carries certain penalties, depending on the jurisdiction in which he was convicted. If he was convicted of misdemeanor theft, he can generally expect his jail term to be shorter than if he had been convicted of felony theft. Some jurisdictions give jail sentences of less than one year for misdemeanor convictions.

Sometimes those convicted of misdemeanors do not receive jail sentences at all. In some cases, a judge may suspend the guilty party’s sentence as long as he doesn’t get into any additional trouble with the law. In other cases, an individual may be required to perform community service. Some misdemeanor convictions even carry monetary fines instead of or in addition to jail time.

For many, the idea of a misdemeanor conviction may seem less frightening and troublesome than a felony conviction, but misdemeanors can result in serious consequences. In addition to the potential for jail time, an individual may receive a permanent negative mark on his criminal record after a misdemeanor conviction. This means prospective employers may discover the conviction during a background check. Employers may be more reluctant to hire those with felony convictions, however. If the misdemeanor conviction was for something the employer considers minor, he may be willing to overlook it.

There are many types of acts that may result in a misdemeanor conviction. Among them are shoplifting, vandalism, and disorderly conduct. In some places, assault and prostitution may be considered misdemeanors as well. Often, certain types of vehicle-related acts are considered misdemeanors. For example, reckless driving and drunk driving are considered misdemeanors in some places.

Some countries do not categorize crimes as misdemeanors and felonies. The United States and countries with similar legal systems use these categories. In other countries, such as the United Kingdom, crimes are separated into summary and indictable offenses. A summary offense is a minor type of crime while an indictable offense is more serious.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison , Writer
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a Historical Index writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By starrynight — On Aug 09, 2011

@sunnySkys - I really think as far as jobs go, it should depend on the type of job. For example, I think it would be OK for someone convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor to work in say, McDonald's.

However, I think for other jobs such as police work or the medical field, a person should have a clean record. I know that's kind of subjective, but that's what I think.

By sunnySkys — On Aug 08, 2011

Even though some employers may not look on misdemeanors as harshly as felonies, people convicted of a misdemeanor can still have a hard time finding a job.

The unemployment rate is so high that most employers have tons of applicants to pick for jobs. A misdemeanor conviction is just one more reason not to pick someone and go with someone else.

I personally think it should depend on what the crime was. I feel like certain misdemeanors aren't as serious as others.

By Sunny27 — On Aug 07, 2011

@SurfNTurf - I can answer that. The expunged record cannot be unsealed, but if you commit additional crimes then the past charges can come into to play when you get charged with the new criminal offense. The prosecutors will definitely take that into consideration.

By surfNturf — On Aug 07, 2011

@GreenWeaver - Is it possible for an expunged record to be unsealed or reversed?

By GreenWeaver — On Aug 06, 2011

I read that in some states you can expunge a misdemeanor conviction but sometimes it depends on the type of misdemeanor.

For example, in Florida if you have a misdemeanor conviction for a DUI or a domestic violence charge the record cannot be expunged because the charge is considered a public hazard and the state needs to keep the record open in case there are subsequent charges in future cases.

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison


Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a Historical Index writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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