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What Is the Punishment for Class C Misdemeanors?

Driving while intoxicated is considered a misdemeanor.
Shoplifting is considered a Class C misdemeanor, or a low level misdemeanor.
Refusal to pay a fine from a Class C misdemeanor may result in incarceration.
Individuals charged with committing a class C misdemeanor may face arrest.
Public drunkenness may be considered a misdemeanor.
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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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Class C misdemeanors, also known as Class 3 misdemeanors, are minor criminal infractions that carry relatively small punishments. Common punishments for crimes of this type include fines, short jail sentences, and court-ordered rehabilitation programs. Since both the classification and punishment of Class 3 misdemeanors varies by region, it is important to look up the applicable guidelines for a specific jurisdiction to ensure accuracy.

Fines are a common punishment for Class C misdemeanors. These fines may be used to repair damage caused by the crime, or simply as a penalty for breaking a minor law. Many jurisdictions have maximum limits on fines for Class C misdemeanors; though amounts may vary, regions often set the top fine at no more than $500 US Dollars (USD). Refusal to pay a fine can lead to additional charges, increased payment penalties, or even incarceration.

Short jail sentences may sometimes be used for the punishment of misdemeanors. In many areas, the period of incarceration may be no more than 30 days. Some offenders may serve only a portion of their sentence, due to time already served while awaiting trial, or as a result of prison overcrowding. Jail sentences are sometimes controversial, as they can be a strain on state funds and prison space. House arrest, in which the offender is confined to his or her place of residence, is sometimes used as an alternative.

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Many of the crimes named as Class C misdemeanors occur as the result of reckless, dangerous, or inappropriate behavior. Domestic disputes, driving under the influence, possession of small amounts of controlled substances, and public drunkenness are all common example of this level of crime. Some judges may choose to impose punishments that seek to reduce the likelihood of recurrence, rather than those directly meant to penalize the offender. Court-ordered programs, such as driver safety courses, anger management classes, or drug and alcohol counseling, may be used to help an offender address a behavioral problem that caused him or her to be charged with a crime.

In addition to court-ordered rehabilitation programs, judges may also choose to impose community service requirements as part of sentences for Class C misdemeanors. Offenders that complete community service may be able to have their record expunged or other penalties, such as fines, reduced or dismissed. Community service may include tasks such as picking up litter, assisting at food banks, or other services that directly benefit the local area. In some cases, the judge may assign service that is related to the offense, in the hopes that the offender will learn enough to avoid future violations.

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discographer
Post 3

@anamur-- Even when a judge doesn't decide to punish heavily, there are cases when certain penalties are inevitable. For example, if someone has committed theft, which is a class C misdemeanor, civil demand requires that the criminal reimburse the merchandise owner for the loss. And that amount, whatever it may be, will have to be paid in addition to any fine the judge orders.

In addition to this, the judge might also order probation and or community service. And no matter what the punishment is, a class C misdemeanor will always be included in the criminal record. In a way, that's punishment as well.

candyquilt
Post 2

@anamur-- I don't think that's true. Judges consider many different factors before deciding on the punishment. They will impose a penalty which they feel will most successfully deter that person from committing crime in the future. That doesn't necessarily mean a higher fine or longer time in jail. It really depends on the individual and which type of penalty will sink in with them the most.

A judge has to follow punishment guidelines for that class of crime. But it is up to their discretion which penalty and how heavily they want to impose it. Being sorry unfortunately doesn't mean anything to the judge. I'm pretty sure that almost every criminal that goes to court will apologize for their mistakes. But the law is responsible for punishing crimes proportionate to the crime. It doesn't matter if it's a class A misdemeanor, a class B or D.

The judge is free to decide within the punishment guidelines set by the law. You cannot change a judge's decision. Trying will usually backfire and might result in a heavier punishment than what the judge originally considered.

serenesurface
Post 1

A friend of mine said that judges usually penalize at the heavier end of punishment guidelines because it will affect the person more and prevent them from committing crime again. Is this true?

So if someone commits a class C misdemeanor and the guideline is a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $750 fine and up to six months in prison, will the judge penalize with six months in jail and $750 fine?

Is there a way to get the judge to lower the punishment? I mean, class C misdemeanors are the least serious crimes and if the person is sincerely sorry for what happened, is it necessary to punish them so heavily?

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