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Definition of Misdemeanor

A misdemeanor is a crime which is less serious than a felony. Common misdemeanors include petty theft, driving without a license, trespassing and disorderly conduct. In the United States, a crime punishable by incarceration for a year or less is generally considered by the Federal Government to be a misdemeanor.

Generally, the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the penalties for each conviction. Most misdemeanors will require the convicted person to pay fines, serve a short jail term, perform community service or serve probation.

Although a misdemeanor can be less serious than a felony, they may be difficult to expunge from your criminal record. For instance, drunk driving may be considered a misdemeanor but in some states it can never be expunged and may be reviewed by a prospective employer who performs a background check. Unfortunately, in a competitive job market even a misdemeanor may be enough for an employer to deny employment.

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