What is a Class C Misdemeanor?

Jessica Saras

Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are considered to be less severe than other crimes, such as felonies. In most jurisdictions, misdemeanors are divided into several categories based on the seriousness of the crime, with more severe crimes being punished by greater penalties. Where there are three classifications of misdemeanors referred to as Classes A, B and C, a Class C misdemeanor typically is the least-serious of the three types. In some places, these categories are referred to as Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. Other jurisdictions might have more than three categories.

Possession of a small amount of illegal drugs may be considered a Class C misdemeanor.
Possession of a small amount of illegal drugs may be considered a Class C misdemeanor.

Types of Crimes

The crimes that qualify as Class C misdemeanors and their accompanying penalties can vary by jurisdiction. Some examples of these crimes might include disorderly conduct, simple assault or possession of a very small amount of illegal drugs. These crimes are less severe than other types of misdemeanors but are more serious than petty offenses and ordinance violations, such as speeding, minor littering, jaywalking or playing music too loudly. Like people who commit those minor offenses, people who commit misdemeanors are subject to fines. Unlike those types of crimes, however, a Class C misdemeanor also is punishable by short-term imprisonment in some jurisdictions.

Depending on the jurisdiction, simple assault can be a Class C misdemeanor crime.
Depending on the jurisdiction, simple assault can be a Class C misdemeanor crime.

Penalties

Class A misdemeanors and Class B misdemeanors carry more severe penalties, such as heavier fines and longer terms of imprisonment. In some cases, however, people who commit misdemeanors will be fined but not imprisoned, even if imprisonment is legally permitted for those crimes. Repeat offenders might be subject to more severe penalties. Unlike a felony conviction, a misdemeanor conviction typically does not result in the loss of civil rights, such as the right to vote or the ability apply for a passport.

Those convicted of a Class C misdemeanor could be ordered to pay a fine.
Those convicted of a Class C misdemeanor could be ordered to pay a fine.

Trials

In the court system, misdemeanors typically are treated like any other crimes. In the United States and many other countries, a person who is accused of a Class C misdemeanor is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor, who represents the government or the public, has the burden of proving that the person committed the crime. These cases might be heard and decided by a judge, or a jury trial might be held.

Social Repercussions

Although they do not lose their civil rights, people who have been convicted of Class C misdemeanors — as with more serious crimes — will face some repercussions in society. Many employers require job applicants to pass criminal background checks, and a Class C misdemeanor would show up on an individual’s criminal record for at least a certain amount of time after he or she has been convicted. In some places, it would remain on the person's criminal record permanently. Other jobs might require a clean criminal record at all times, so someone who has been convicted of a Class C misdemeanor might face certain penalties or restrictions and might even lose his or her job. As a result, although the legal penalties for a Class C misdemeanor might be relatively minor, the actual penalties incurred by the convicted individual can be severe.

Shoplifting is considered a Class C misdemeanor.
Shoplifting is considered a Class C misdemeanor.

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Discussion Comments

anon343355

I believe the answer to my question is yes, but I'll ask to make sure. If one was charged with a Class C Misdemeanor due to a traffic accident, would said individual select "yes" on job application where it is asked, "Have you been convicted of a crime within the last seven (7) years (answer "no" for any criminal convictions that have been expunged, sealed, erased and annulled or otherwise eliminated by operation of law, arrests and minor traffic offenses)?"

anon256481

Someone can be charged with a felony for possession of even a small amount of drugs.

anon134103

My question is this: in Maine, my baby's father just got a class misdemeanor for violating probation, and he has no other criminal history other than what he got the first time he went to prison, but this is his first time violating it so I am kind of confused on what he may get.

anon115888

I was charged with theft under $1000. It was dropped to a misdemeanor with no jail time. I was asked on my application do I have a felony or class a misdemeanor. Please help.

anon113777

i would like to know if a person is convicted of a Class C misdemeanor and lives in ny and me in conn is the law different? i was harassed for six months by phone and texts.

anon113254

what if it was your first offense?

dega2010

@boathugger: Misdemeanors are considered “lesser criminal acts”. They are still punishable offenses. They are classified according to the severity of the offense. Some states vary in the punishment for the offenses depending on their state code. I am from Alabama and the punishment for a Class C misdemeanor is up to three months imprisonment and a fine no more than $500. That, of course, would be different if the offender had past criminal charges.

BoatHugger

Are the punishments for Class C misdemeanors the same in all states or does it vary?

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