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Offenses lower than felonies and generally those punishable by fine, penalty, Forfeiture, or imprisonment other than in a penitentiary. Under federal law, and most state laws, any offense other than a felony is classified as a misdemeanor. Certain states also have various classes of misdemeanors (e.g., Class A, B, etc.).


n. a lesser crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year. Misdemeanors are distinguished from felonies which can be punished by a state prison term. They are tried in the lowest local court such as municipal, police or justice courts. Typical misdemeanors include: petty theft, disturbing the peace, simple assault and battery, drunk driving without injury to others, drunkenness in public, various traffic violations, public nuisances, and some crimes which can be charged either as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances and the discretion of the District Attorney. "High crimes and misdemeanors" referred to in the U. S. Constitution are felonies. (See: felony)


noun act committed in violation of law, act of lawbreaking, breach of law, crime committed, criminal act, criminal activity, criminal offense, delictum, dereliction, guilty act, illegality, improbity, impropriety, infamous conduct, malfeasance, malversation, misdeed, misdoing, misfeasance, offense, offense against the law, peccadillo, punishable offense, transgression, viooation of law, wicked deed, wrong
Associated concepts: felony, high crimes and misdemeanors, misdemeanor complaint, petit misdemeanor, violation
See also: crime, delict, guilt, misconduct, misdeed, misdoing, offense

MISDEMEANOR, crim. law. This term is used to express every offence inferior to felony, punishable by indictment, or by particular prescribed proceedings; in its usual acceptation, it is applied to all those crimes and offences for which the law has not provided a particular name; this word is generally used in contradistinction to felony; misdemeanors comprehending all indictable offences, which do not amount to felony, as perjury, battery, libels, conspiracies and public nuisances.
     2. Misdemeanors have sometimes been called misprisions. (q.v.) Burn's Just. tit. Misdemeanor; 4 Bl. Com. 5, n. 2; 2 Bar. & Adolph. 75: 1 Russell, 43; 1 Chitty, Pr. 14; 3 Vern. 347; 2 Hill, S. C. 674; Addis. 21; 3 Pick. 26; 1 Greenl. 226; 2 P. A. Browne, 249; 9 Pick. 1; 1 S. & R. 342; 6 Call. 245; 4 Wend. 229; 2 Stew. & Port. 379. And see 4 Wend. 229, 265; 12 Pick. 496; 3 Mass. 254; 5 Mass. 106. See Offence.

References in periodicals archive ?
At a legislative hearing on the bill in February, Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ) President Luis Paulino Mora and magistrate Daniel Gonzalez opposed punishing petty crimes with jail sentences.
The network helps to protect the vulnerable from petty crime by working with local residents, landlords and local community police.
CITIZEN One night stand, unprotected Nine months later, unexpected Family history, complicated Social workers, inundated Educated by the state Missed my schooling, turned up late Schooled in life - apprentice yob Never had a proper job This and that, and petty crime Did a bit, and served my time Got some kiddies, here and there Mostly taken into care Smoking, drinking, to excess Finished up as one big mess Diagnosis, very poorly Heart stopped running, prematurely Buried by the DSS Unknown vicar said God bless That's my life, not hard to see There's plenty more, all just like me.
If I even attempted the same stunt, my missus says it would be written off as petty crime.
We have to expand the availability of registered users obtaining drugs legally; which would also eliminate both much organised and petty crime.
The Alley Gates scheme in Barry and Penarth, in which back lanes are sealed off by a gate to which only residents have the keys, has produced significant reductions in petty crime and anti-social behaviour.
Petty crime figures are up, burglaries are up and anyone who has had their house or car broken into knows they have very little chance of enjoying any kind of justice.
Local people say the incident follows an increase in petty crime, late-night disorder and vandalism in the area.
Queen Elizabeth High School in Atherstone has teamed up with police to stamp out truancy that can lead to petty crime and more serious offences.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley led a movement to fix ``three strikes'' by never prosecuting on petty crime.
There is no such thing as petty crime as far as small businesses are concerned.
Sean's attraction to the Mormon religion, and the precariousness of life in the city as evidenced by revenge, fire, petty crime and civic corruption.