What is a Class B Misdemeanor?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

In some countries, crimes may be categorized as misdemeanors or felonies. A misdemeanor is generally considered a less serious type of crime than one that carries a felony charge. It is, however, still punishable by law. Many jurisdictions divide misdemeanors into classifications. A Class B misdemeanor is one of those classifications. Many places have Class A and Class C misdemeanor classifications as well. The classifications generally follow severity levels, A usually being the worst, B less severe and C even less severe.

Driving while intoxicated is considered a misdemeanor.
Driving while intoxicated is considered a misdemeanor.

When a person commits a misdemeanor, he is subject to the punishments allowed by the laws in his jurisdiction. In many places, misdemeanors carry lighter punishments than other criminal acts. Often, laws limit misdemeanor sentences to one year or less. In many cases, however, a person does not go to prison for a misdemeanor charge, especially if it is his first offense. Judges may suspend sentences or order community service in some cases; sometimes the perpetrator is placed on house arrest, given weekend imprisonment, or fined.

Theft is considered a misdemeanor.
Theft is considered a misdemeanor.

In addition to prison sentences, community service, and fines, judges in some jurisdictions may set a variety of other punishments. A judge may grant an order of protection in some cases or he may order a defendant into a treatment program. For example, a drunk driver may be required to enter a treatment program for alcoholics. Sometimes misdemeanor charges are even punished with driver’s license suspension.

Prison time is a possibility for those found guilty of a Class B Misdemeanor.
Prison time is a possibility for those found guilty of a Class B Misdemeanor.

When misdemeanors are divided into classes, class A charges are usually considered the worst and carry higher penalties. For example, in some places, a person convicted of a Class A misdemeanor may face up to one year in prison as well as a hefty fine. A Class B misdemeanor is one step down in terms of seriousness and penalties. A person convicted of a Class B misdemeanor may face up to a year imprisonment and have to pay a lesser monetary fine. This depends on the jurisdiction, however; some courts may set the maximum sentence for this charge to 90 days.

Some U.S. court jurisdictions limit Class B misdemeanor sentences to one year or less.
Some U.S. court jurisdictions limit Class B misdemeanor sentences to one year or less.

It’s important to note that minimal sentences may only apply to individuals who have not broken the law on a repeated basis. In some jurisdictions, judges have the power to give tougher sentences to those with poor track records. For example, a judge may increase a Class B misdemeanor sentence to two years imprisonment if he is sentencing a repeat offender. The same goes for the overall choice of punishment. A judge may be more likely to give a repeat offender a prison sentence rather than just community service or a fine.

A judge may be more likely to give a repeat offender prison time than just community service or a fine.
A judge may be more likely to give a repeat offender prison time than just community service or a fine.
Shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor in many areas.
Shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor in many areas.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


DUIs are serious crime(s). As someone who has two, I know it is easy to play the blame game. Alcohol is extremely addictive and a difficult habit to kick. It is easy to suggest punishment for a crime when you never committed one. Although I accept full responsibly of my poor decisions that have cost me my job and marriage, I do feel that prevention and awareness should be an option, also.

We as a society are quick to judge and decide punishment for people who commit crimes. I agree a crime with more severity should carry a stronger punishment. I thank God or destiny (which ever you prefer) that I did not hurt or kill anyone, but that easily could have happened

All I am trying to suggest is since Governor Schwarzenegger increased the time frame for DUIs staying on your criminal background from 7 years to 10 years, DUI convictions have still risen and the average age of DUI offenders is getting younger. It's time to try something different. Otherwise our jails and prisons (which were originally meant to be for rehabilitation) will continue to overcrowd.


Everyone is saying a DUI should be a felony, but the way I see it, people make mistakes. Do you really want to ruin the life, for example, of a college student who maybe had a little too much? If that student becomes a felon, his life is over. No more school, and no more future, because a lot of people won't hire a felon. Guys like that usually turn to drug dealing. The first offense should not be a felony. Statistics show that most people who get a DUI do not get another one. Second or third offenses could be a felony, in my opinion. Turning a lot of otherwise law abiding citizens into felons is a terrible idea.


In today's China, if a person drunk-drives, he/she is going to be put into prison for a couple of years.



I agree with you. I think that people that drive drunk usually have driven that way dozens of times before they are caught and giving them a class B misdemeanor punishment does not see right when these people not only endanger their own lives, but the lives of countless others.

A person that drives while intoxicated understands that they can harm someone so I feel that the first time offenses should be upgraded to a felony not a misdemeanor. I bet that would scare a lot more people and may cause others to be more careful and not drive drunk.



Comfyshoes-I think that the DUI laws should be stricter. Personally I think they should all be considered a felony not a misdemeanor because of the potential harm that can be done because of someone’s reckless behavior.

People should not have multiple chances to drive drunk before they serve jail time. I realize that the jails are overcrowded but we should not have to wait for someone with a DUI to kill someone before they are stopped.

Taking away their license may stop some, but many will still take the chance and drive anyway.


Moldova-First time offenders in many jurisdictions are often offer diversion program in which they participate in a rehabilitative training course for first time offenders so that they will not have this problem again.

Also, since shoplifting is not a violent crime or a crime that is a public safety issue like a DUI would be most states will allow an expungement of the record for first time offenders.

The real difference between a felony and misdemeanor involves the potential jail sentence.

For example if you are charged with misdemeanor DUI, you may face a license suspension and a fine or probation.

However, if you are charged with a felony DUI you will probably face jail time, along with fines, license suspension and you may have to use a device in your car that measures your blood alcohol level before you get into the car.

The jail time can be severe and you could serve several years in prison especially if you killed someone as a result of your drunk driving.


A class B misdemeanor punishment varies depending on the state’s penal code. For example a class B misdemeanor in Texas has a punishment of up to six months in prison and a maximum fine of $2,000, while in Wisconsin a misdemeanor class B can yield a prison term up to 90 days and fine up to $1,000 for a first time offense and the jail time will increase to two years in prison for additional offenses.

A class B misdemeanor for theft usually involves petty shoplifting.

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