Class C misdemeanors, also known as Class 3 misdemeanors, are minor criminal infractions that carry relatively small punishments. Common punishments for crimes of this type include fines, short jail sentences, and court-ordered rehabilitation programs. Since both the classification and punishment of Class 3 misdemeanors varies by region, it is important to look up the applicable guidelines for a specific jurisdiction to ensure accuracy.
Fines are a common punishment for Class C misdemeanors. These fines may be used to repair damage caused by the crime, or simply as a penalty for breaking a minor law. Many jurisdictions have maximum limits on fines for Class C misdemeanors; though amounts may vary, regions often set the top fine at no more than $500 US Dollars (USD). Refusal to pay a fine can lead to additional charges, increased payment penalties, or even incarceration.
Short jail sentences may sometimes be used for the punishment of misdemeanors. In many areas, the period of incarceration may be no more than 30 days. Some offenders may serve only a portion of their sentence, due to time already served while awaiting trial, or as a result of prison overcrowding. Jail sentences are sometimes controversial, as they can be a strain on state funds and prison space. House arrest, in which the offender is confined to his or her place of residence, is sometimes used as an alternative.
Many of the crimes named as Class C misdemeanors occur as the result of reckless, dangerous, or inappropriate behavior. Domestic disputes, driving under the influence, possession of small amounts of controlled substances, and public drunkenness are all common example of this level of crime. Some judges may choose to impose punishments that seek to reduce the likelihood of recurrence, rather than those directly meant to penalize the offender. Court-ordered programs, such as driver safety courses, anger management classes, or drug and alcohol counseling, may be used to help an offender address a behavioral problem that caused him or her to be charged with a crime.
In addition to court-ordered rehabilitation programs, judges may also choose to impose community service requirements as part of sentences for Class C misdemeanors. Offenders that complete community service may be able to have their record expunged or other penalties, such as fines, reduced or dismissed. Community service may include tasks such as picking up litter, assisting at food banks, or other services that directly benefit the local area. In some cases, the judge may assign service that is related to the offense, in the hopes that the offender will learn enough to avoid future violations.