A misdemeanor violation is often referred to as a lesser crime, meaning it is not as serious as many other criminal offenses. Some of these crimes allow the accused to handle the matters without going to court. If a person does go to court for a misdemeanor violation, she may face consequences, which can include fines, restitution, and incarceration. These are generally limited by the law.
In many jurisdictions, there are two major categories offenses. Those that are viewed as being very serious are referred to as felonies and those that are viewed as minor, or lesser crimes, are referred to as misdemeanors. What is considered a misdemeanor violation can vary from one place to another. Common examples include public drunkenness, disturbing the peace, and petty theft.
Such offenses are usually considered lesser crimes because they do not involve substantial damage or risk of harm to individuals or public and private property. There are some instances when an offense that is viewed as a misdemeanor in one jurisdiction may be a felony in another. Possession of marijuana is a prime example of this type of inconsistency.
Depending on the offense, a misdemeanor violation can often be handled without going to court. Some of these crimes simply require a person to pay a fine if she does not want to object to the charge. People who decide or who are required to go to court, often do so without legal representation. They are still granted many of the same rights as those who are charged with more serious offenses. For example, they usually have the right to hear the charges against them, to face their accusers, and to protect themselves against self-incrimination.
There are usually limits outlined regarding the penalties that can be prescribed for this category of offenses. A person convicted of a misdemeanor violation generally cannot be sentenced to incarceration for periods beyond that set by the jurisdiction's legislature. This is often drastically shorter than sentences that can be issued for felonies.
In some jurisdictions, misdemeanors are divided into classes that designate the severity of the offense. Some of these crimes may prohibit the issuing of any jail sentences. The amount of fines which can be charged for a misdemeanor violation is also generally limited. There are, however, a number of consequences that can be ordered in addition to these, such as community service, restitution, and mandatory treatment programs.