Before beginning with the details of Class 1 misdemeanor in particular, it is important that readers have a general idea of what misdemeanors in general are. In the legal context misdemeanors are a number of offenses and crimes that are considered to be the least serious in the eyes of law. While other serious crimes are punished more severely, misdemeanors are punished up to 1 year in jail or fines.
States categorize misdemeanors in to classes; while some of them use numbers, others use alphabets to classify various misdemeanors. Among misdemeanors, Class 1 offenses are considered to be the most serious as compared to other classes.
Misdemeanors and Felonies
While misdemeanors are considered comparatively more serious than petty crimes, they are still considered fewer offensives when compared to felonies. Misdemeanor offenders, if convicted can earn up to a year in jail or fines. Felonies on the other hand are more severely punished – up to a life sentence and heavy fines. However, the punishments followed by being convicted of felonies and misdemeanors vary from state to state.
How states categorize misdemeanors
Each state of the United States categorizes misdemeanors according to their own scale. While some use numbers to differentiate, others use alphabets while classifying misdemeanors. So, Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 misdemeanors in one state can be called Class A, Class B or Class C misdemeanors. Their natures may slightly differ from each other, but their seriousness and punishments, more or less remain the same.
Punishment for Class 1 Misdemeanors
Class 1 misdemeanors are considered more serious than other classes of misdemeanors, and hence are more severely punished by the law.However their punishment is less severe than felonies which are considered bigger crimes than all misdemeanors.
Offenders of Class 1 misdemeanors may be punished in the following ways if they are convicted for any of the crimes of similar nature. Prison sentences and fines can be used separately and in combination depending on the circumstances the crime was committed in.
The offenders of Class 1 misdemeanors are punished by up to 6 months in jail depending on the nature of crime they have committed.Crimes, which are punished by longer sentences, fall in to the category of felony, which are more severe crimes. Prison sentences for class 1 misdemeanors are carried out in state or county jails, as opposed to felonies, which are carried out in federal prison facilities.
Fines are also used as punishment for Class 1 misdemeanors. While they vary from state to state and with the nature of the crime committed, a general fine that offenders are required to pay can be anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500.
If the offender has a history of committing class 1 misdemeanor, their punishment can be extended or may even be considered a felony depending upon the situation and nature of crime.Courts can convict the offenders more severely than strictly necessary if he commits the same misdemeanor time and again.
On the contrary
If the offender is found to be committing a class 1 misdemeanor for the first time and in less aggravating situation, courts may be lenient with them and suggest a probationary program for them instead of convicting them with the actual punishment. However, if the offender breaks the terms or their probation, court may choose to punish them with the legal punishment.
Being on probation requires the offender to follow a standard set of regulations while he may remain out of prison facility. These rules may include avoiding alcohol consumption, getting various drug tests and not getting in touch with other criminals of different crimes.
Another alternative to traditional punishment is to make the offender engage in community service for a certain period of time. This practice makes the offenders spend their time in a productive manner working for the benefit of their community. To make this process formal, courts tend to involve a credible institute to ensure that the offender takes this alternative seriously.
If probation or community service is carried out by the offender without any factors that disrupts them, the charges against the offender may be expunged and their records may be cleared. However it depends upon the seriousness of their crime and the circumstances it was committed in before the courts decide upon any alternative punishments or expunging of their records later on. Activities likes community service and probation are also handed out to offenders who have committed non-violent crimes.
Loss of Civil Right and Benefits
As soon as an individual is convicted with a class 1 misdemeanor he loses a certain civil rights which are otherwise the right of every citizen. These include:
Offenders may lose any professional licenses they may have or the ones they have applied for. These include accountants and taxi drivers; however, licenses are only cancelled if the misdemeanor committed involves their professional capacity. If the offender has committed a general offense, other than their professional expertise, their licenses may not be taken away and they may continue performing their professional responsibilities as usual after getting over with their punishment sentences.
Offender’s right to hire a criminal attorney
Once an offender has been caught committing a class 1 misdemeanor they are constitutionally allowed to hire an attorney to defend them in front of law. Their criminal attorney can also negotiate the type of punishment the may get by the hands of law and ask for an alternative or switching the nature from prison sentence to paying of the required fine.
The type and nature of punishment an offender gets depends upon their previous records. If they have been caught committing the same crime more than once their punishment will be more severe as compared to offenders who commit an offence for the first time. However, in any case their attorneys are allowed to negotiate easier punishment as part of the offender’s rights.
How can an offender get their name cleared from state’s records?
As a result of being convicted for a class 1 misdemeanor, offenders also lose their credibility and are labeled criminal. This leads to them losing their rights to proper jobs and housing facilitates as most employers and landlords avoid hiring or renting their spaces to convicted criminals.They also lose their chances to get affordable housing for low income citizens and food stamps; in short a number of their civil rights are lost and their identity also becomes suspicious.State offers programs to get these convicts through landlords that support the state in such cases. Similarly there are employers who can also help convicts of class 1 misdemeanor.
All of these factors push convicts to get their names cleared in the state records. For this purpose, each state runs its own programs that may require the offender a considerable waiting period, after which their names get cleared. Another alternative is to get a pardon by governor of the state. This however requires a waiting period of 3 to 5 years and a clean record without further incidents of the same nature.
After completing their punishments, the convicts may also want to go one step ahead and get their names cleared from the records of their states. Each state follows its own regulations on this matter but the most often than not, have programs that can the offenders name expunged from the records.
If you or anyone around you requires professional services by an attorney, they need to consult one. This article has been written for informational purposes only and must not be considered an alternative to a hiring a professional criminal attorney.