Last Updated on October 13, 2021 by Fair Punishment Team
A misdemeanor is a lesser offense than a felony, although it is still a crime that will result in a punishment. A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction.
The difference between a misdemeanor, a felony, and an infraction is determined by how great a punishment they can incur.
Generally, a misdemeanor will be punished with either a monetary fine or community service. A misdemeanor may result in jail time.
In most states this is up to one year, but some states may punish a misdemeanor with up to three years incarceration. Any more than this and the crime would be considered a felony.
The classification of a misdemeanor varies from state to state, but many categorize them into different groupings on the seriousness of the offense – such as Class A, Class B and so on.
These groupings are there to distinguish the punishment to fit each offense. So a Class A misdemeanor may carry a potential sentencing of a year in jail, where a Class C misdemeanor might be punishable by a maximum 90 days in incarceration.
Common forms of misdemeanor are drunk driving, petty theft such as shoplifting, resisting arrest, and trespassing. These are all crimes that carry some level of punishment higher than an infraction, but aren’t counted as felonies.
Some misdemeanors can be charged as felonies, depending on factors such as damages incurred, status of the victim, and a prior criminal record of the defendant.
Does a misdemeanor affect financial aid?
Yes, a misdemeanor can affect financial aid. A college education is desirable for many reasons, but the costs may be prohibitive.
There is a lot that is considered before granting financial aid, and past misdemeanors and felonies are included. A misdemeanor may block you from getting financial aid entirely.
If you were receiving financial aid, and you committed a misdemeanor, you may find your financial aid is stopped.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t receive any form of financial aid. Older convictions and smaller convictions may be overlooked. Even if the FAFSA will not grant any financial aid, there are other options to look into.
When applying for financial aid, the organization will ask to do a background check. This comes as standard.
Any misdemeanors will show on the background check, and can prevent you from accessing financial aid. However, it is possible for a misdemeanor to be expunged from your record.
Receiving a grant or loan from the federal government will not be possible if you have a misdemeanor. This doesn’t mean that no financial aid is available, just that it will be harder to access.
Do misdemeanors follow you from state to state?
Although they’re considered a lesser crime, a misdemeanor will remain on your criminal record for life, similar to a felony. Anytime anyone accesses your criminal record, they will be able to see your misdemeanors.
Regardless of how much time has passed, and in which state the misdemeanor was committed. Put simply, a misdemeanor will follow you from state to state.
However, most misdemeanors are generally handled in a county court. This means the record will be filed at a county level.
If you have since moved to a different state, then a potential employer may only ask for a state-level background check rather than a county-level.
This would mean the misdemeanor may not show up. It could also happen if you’d stayed in the same state but were in a different county.
This would only happen by chance, and definitely isn’t something that should be expected. The misdemeanor is still valid in a different state, even if it doesn’t immediately show up on the background check.
Should the employer then run another, county-level, background check, they would have access to all the information.
No matter what state you’re in, you shouldn’t assume that a misdemeanor won’t show up on a background check.
If an application asks you about a prior criminal record, it’s better to be honest and upfront about the offense. The only time to leave it off is if you live in a state with ban-the-box legislation.
Will a misdemeanor affect a background check?
Yes, a misdemeanor will affect a background check. A misdemeanor will remain permanently on your criminal record, much like a felony. Criminal records are considered public, and can be accessed by a potential employer.
Although an employer is more likely to hire someone with a misdemeanor over a felony, a misdemeanor can still bar you from certain jobs.
A misdemeanor could be affecting your potential employment. It can also affect college and financial aid applications. A potential landlord may also consider misdemeanors when deciding between tenants.
The effect a misdemeanor has on a background check will depend on a number of factors. The age of the conviction will likely play a part.
If you have an old misdemeanor, it may be overlooked. Especially if no further crimes have been reported, and the rest of your record is clean.
Similarly, the type of misdemeanor in question may also be considered. An old DUI may not have the same effect as a recent petty theft charge.
The attitude of the person conducting the background check cannot be overlooked. While some employers may be more permissive, others may consider any form of criminal record a blanket ‘no’.
A misdemeanor will show up on a background check, unless the misdemeanor was filed at a county level and the employer only requests state-level.
How this affects the background check will depend on the time since the conviction, the conviction itself, and the potential employer.
Will a misdemeanor ruin my life?
A misdemeanor won’t necessarily ruin your life, but it does have long-term repercussions.
A misdemeanor is a crime with a punishment of up to one year in jail, so a person who has committed a misdemeanor may find themselves incarcerated. Otherwise, they may be required to pay a monetary fine or carry out community service.
A misdemeanor is permanently noted on a criminal record, and this can be accessed by anyone who requires a background check. This could potentially affect your ability to attend college, receive financial aid, find employment, and even rent an apartment.
Depending on the severity of the misdemeanor, it may prevent you from many accomplishments.
It is possible to get a misdemeanor expunged from a record. It’s much easier to do this with a misdemeanor over a felony. Although be aware that the process can be long and complicated.
Once expunged, a misdemeanor should no longer show on a background check. A misdemeanor is most likely to be expunged if a long time has passed, and it is the only criminal conviction on your record.
An attorney should be contacted to expunge a record. If it is expunged, you can honestly claim on any job applications that you have no criminal record.
There are attempts being made to pass ‘ban-the-box’ legislation. This will prevent any potential employers from asking about any criminal convictions. If you live in a state with ban-the-box legislation, you don’t have to disclose misdemeanors.
A misdemeanor doesn’t have to ruin your life, but it is a serious conviction. The severity of it lessens if it remains the only conviction.