A misdemeanor is a criminal offense considered less severe than a felony but more serious than an infraction. Even though various parts of the country have different classifications, the definition of a misdemeanor is generally identical across state lines.

Misdemeanor charges typically carry a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail. However, the actual sentence may be less severe depending on the nature of the offense and other factors.

Misdemeanor crimes are usually broadly categorized into three; crimes against a person, crimes against property, and crimes against public order or safety.

As a citizen, you must know the basics of misdemeanors, so you can avoid them and know your rights if ever you get to commit one. This article will list some common types of misdemeanor charges and their penalties.

Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs Or Alcohol

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) is a serious misdemeanor offense in most jurisdictions.

However, some of the specifics may vary from state to state. For instance, punishments may differ if you’re charged in San Jose with drunk driving than if you’re arrested for the same misdemeanor in another state.

Generally speaking, some penalties for a first-time DUI offense in the United States include paying a fine, suspension of driver's license, probation, jail time, and installing an ignition interlock device (IID).

Obstructing A Law Enforcement Officer

This misdemeanor refers to obstructing, restraining, or impeding a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician from carrying out their assigned duties.

Depending on the offense's jurisdiction and seriousness, several punishments may be imposed for this charge. These could involve paying penalties, going on probation, performing community service, losing some privileges, or even going to jail.


Assault is a criminal act that entails knowingly causing another person to fear physical violence or injury or causing bodily hurt or damage to another person. Assault charges often refer to less severe incidents where victims didn’t sustain significant injuries.

Assault sanctions vary based on the case's jurisdiction and circumstances, but some frequent penalties include fines, probation, community service, and jail time.

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is generally defined as operating a vehicle in a careless manner that endangers the safety of persons or property. Penalties vary based on the offense's jurisdiction and precise circumstances. However, possible sanctions include fines, suspension or revocation of license, probation, and jail time.

Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor that can vary in definition and punishment depending on the jurisdiction. In general, it refers to any activity that disrupts the peace. A wide range of acts, such as excessive noise, fights in public, or abusive language, can be considered public disorderly conduct.

There are a variety of penalties for disorderly conduct, including fines, community service, probation, and/or jail time. Disorderly conduct convictions can also appear on a person's criminal record, negatively impacting their work prospects and other aspects of their lives.


An individual commits trespassing when they enter another person's property without permission. The severity of sanctions for this misdemeanor depends on the situation’s gravity and the state in which it occurred.

Trespassing can lead to fines, probation, community service, or jail time. Penalties may also depend on whether the trespasser has a criminal record. Furthermore, the severity of the sanctions will be determined by how much damage or harm the trespasser caused.


Shoplifting is a misdemeanor involving the theft of goods from a retail store or other commercial organization. A shoplifter's punishment depends on the exact circumstances of the offense and the state or jurisdiction where it occurred.

In general, shoplifting is considered a minor violation compared to more serious offenses such as robbery or burglary. Yet, it can still result in substantial legal consequences, such as fines, probation, community service, and sometimes jail time.


The act of stalking involves purposefully and frequently bothering or following another person, causing them to feel terrified or intimidated. The sanctions would depend on the circumstances of the crime, the state or region where it occurred, and the consequences.

Generally, stalking is viewed as a serious offense with substantial repercussions, including fines, probation, and, in rare circumstances, jail time.

In Summary

If you wish to live a peaceful life and avoid any misdemeanor charges regardless of the state in which you live, avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, don't obstruct an officer, don't assault someone, and don't disrupt peace. Furthermore, it's also important to note that you should not drive recklessly, trespass, shoplift, or stalk someone.