What is a Misdemeanor? A misdemeanor is a less serious crime, which in Ohio, does not carry the possibility of jail time. It can be anything from traffic offenses, such as driving under the influence, failure to yield, or even speeding to theft and assault crimes, and everything in between. Whether or not you are charged with a misdemeanor can depend on a number of different things, including your criminal history, the seriousness of your conduct, or the amount at issue. Some crimes are always misdemeanors, while other crimes are always felonies. Am I Facing Jail Time? Like felonies, there are five levels of misdemeanors, each reflecting the seriousness of the offense. A misdemeanor of the first degree carries with it a possible term of incarceration in local jail of up to 180 days. A misdemeanor of the second degree carries with it the possible penalty of up to 90 days of incarceration. A misdemeanor of the third degree carries with it the possibility of 60 days of incarceration. A misdemeanor of the fourth degree carries with it the possibility of 30 days of incarceration. However, minor misdemeanors do not carry any jail time. Will I Have to do the Jail Time? In any court matter, the judge has the absolute final to determine the penalty. Defense attorneys and prosecutors can ask a judge to follow a recommendation, however, they cannot make any promises. That being said, there are many programs that allow you to avoid jail for misdemeanors, such as probation, community service, or jail reduction. A good lawyer will present any mitigation to the judge in order to sway him away from imposing a jail term. It is entirely possible that you will not have to serve any jail time, however, certain offenses (for example DUIs) carry mandatory jail sentences. Am I Facing Any Fines? When you are charged with a misdemeanor, you are facing possible fines as well. First degree misdemeanors carry the possibility of a $1000 fine, second degree misdemeanors carry the possibility of a $750 fine, third degree misdemeanors carry the possibility of a $500 fine, fourth degree misdemeanors carry the possibility of a $250 fine, and finally minor misdemeanors carry a maximum possible fine of $150. It is important to remember that the judge does not have to impose the maximum fine, and that you should discuss mitigation for this with your defense attorney as well. Do I get a Defense Attorney? Any time you are facing incarceration, you are entitled to representation. If you are indigent, an attorney will be appointed to represent you, however, you may be required to request the attorney. Because you do not face jail time in minor misdemeanors, you are not entitled to an attorney-- however, if you wish to hire one for those crimes, you are entitled to. Additional Penalties In addition to the jail time and fines listed above, if you are charged with even a minor misdemeanor-- such as a marijuana ticket, you can face additional penalties, for example only, suspension of your drivers license. That is why it is absolutely imperative that you never enter into a plea without knowing what you are doing and without seeking counsel.