Misdemeanor cases vary, and the punishments for misdemeanors do, too. With
recent riots in Maryland, understanding what a misdemeanor is and how
you know if you’ve been charged is important. Depending on the type
of offense claimed against you, there could be as little as a fine as
a penalty or as much as a prison sentence. Typically, a misdemeanor’s
penalties are less than felonies, although not always.
Generally speaking, misdemeanors are violations that break the law but
don’t cause serious harm or major damage. So, for instance, a robbery
where no one got hurt could be considered a misdemeanor, but a bank robbery
where someone was shot would be considered to be a felony.
Most misdemeanors go to trial, which means you’ll have to go to court
or have someone represent you in court. The court hearing is generally
part of this process, but if you can work with prosecutors and negotiate,
you may be able to come to an agreement outside court.
You could be alerted to your charges in a number of ways with a misdemeanor. For
traffic violations, for instance, you may be sent a letter in the mail. Direct arrests take
place when a police officer appears on scene or when the officer goes
to a home to make an arrest. Being arrested doesn’t mean the misdemeanor
is proven, just that the police want to press charges and are taking you
to be processed or held in jail.
Investigations can also result in misdemeanors, but only if the investigators
decide to pursue the case. Acknowledgement of these charges could come
via mail or by direct arrest, depending on the implications of the case.
Source: WiseGEEK, “What Are the Most Common Types of Misdemeanor Cases?,” accessed April. 29, 2015