A federal misdemeanor is a type of crime. In the United States and countries that have similar legal systems, crimes are separated into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are considered less serious crimes while felonies are the most serious criminal acts. Other places, like the United Kingdom, use a different crime designation, dividing crimes into summary offenses, which are minor, and indictable offenses, which are more serious. A federal misdemeanor is a minor type of offense that violates a law set by the federal government.
There are federal, regional, and local laws a person must follow. For example, a state or city may have laws that vary from those set by the federal government. Often, however, local and federal laws are similar. Driving while intoxicated, for instance, is typically both a federal and local crime. Some types of misdemeanors are federal simply because they violate federal laws, but others are considered federal crimes because of where they were committed.
To understand how location can affect whether or not a crime is considered a federal misdemeanor, think about a petty theft. If a person steals a wallet containing a small amount of cash, the act is usually considered a misdemeanor and would then be prosecuted based on the legal codes of that jurisdiction. If this crime were committed on federal property, however, it would be a federal misdemeanor. Likewise, if an individual begins committing a crime in one state and then travels to another state to continue his criminal act, the crime is often considered a federal crime because of the crossing of state lines.
There are many types of crimes that may be considered federal misdemeanors. They range from driving while intoxicated and assault to theft and even some types of blackmail. For example, domestic violence breaks federal laws. If a spouse or other domestic partner hits or threatens to use a deadly weapon against his spouse or domestic partner, this is considered a crime. It is in violation of not only federal laws, but also the laws in most local jurisdictions.
Interestingly, an individual who has broken a domestic violence law may be held to higher standards when it comes to other federal laws. For example, the victim in a domestic violence case may receive an order of protection. This order basically requires the accused person to stay away from the victim and cause him no further harm. If a person who is subject to an order of protection is found in possession of a firearm after the order is granted, he is breaking federal law.