Home » What Happens When You Are Arrested for a Misdemeanor? A Comprehensive Guide

What Happens When You Are Arrested for a Misdemeanor? A Comprehensive Guide

What would happen if you were arrested for a misdemeanor?

Bear in mind, anyone can be arrested. No one is exempt. Being arrested for a minor offense or something more serious can be a confusing and overwhelming experience.

We want people to understand this charge better. This is why we have put together this guide for people who are confused.

You’ll be walked through each step of the process from the moment you’re taken into custody until your court date.

What is a Misdemeanor?

When you’re charged with a misdemeanor, it means that you’ve been accused of committing a minor crime. 

For more serious offenses, you could also be sentenced to jail time.

You might be able to get out on bail before you are sentenced. It’s important you find one that operates in your area, so going online and looking up phrases such as “San Diego Bail Bonds“, for example, can put you on the right track if you need that type of help.

Misdemeanors are classified into two categories.

Petty misdemeanors are the less serious of the two and are typically punishable by a fine of $500 or less. However, when it comes to gross misdemeanors, people are looking at paying more than that at $1,000 or they will get jail time (sometimes both).

If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor, it will go on your criminal record. This can make it difficult to find employment as some businesses will have clauses stating that they do not take previously convicted people. It can also affect you getting a house in the future, and a loan if you ever need one.

Therefore, it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you fight the charges and avoid a conviction if possible.

How is a Misdemeanor Different from a Felony?

Misdemeanors and felonies are both types of crimes, but they have different levels of severity. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies and usually carry a lighter punishment.

  1. A misdemeanor typically carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. A felony usually carries a sentence of more than one year.
  2. Misdemeanors are typically tried in criminal court, while felonies are typically tried in superior court.
  3. Misdemeanor charges can be dropped or reduced to a lesser charge, but felony charges cannot be dropped.

The Process of Being Arrested for a Misdemeanor

The first thing that will happen is that you will be read your Miranda rights. You should exercise these rights immediately and ask for an attorney.

Once you have been read your Miranda rights, the officer will likely search you and your belongings. They may also take you into custody. You will then be transported to the police station where you will be processed.

At the police station, you will be fingerprinted and photographed. You may also be asked to provide identification and contact information. You will then be placed in a holding cell until you can see a judge.

Potential Penalties for a Misdemeanor Conviction

Potential penalties for a misdemeanor conviction vary by state. These can typically include a fine and/or up to one year in jail. Depending on the state, you may also lose your right to vote or possess a firearm.

You will know more once you have gone through the process with your attorney who can fill in the blanks.

Alternatives to Jail Time for Misdemeanors

There are a few different options that a judge may sentence instead of jail time for misdemeanors.

Probation is when the offender is released back into the community under certain conditions. These conditions may include regular check-ins with a probation officer, drug testing, and attending anger management classes. 

Fines are another possible sentence for misdemeanors. The severity of the offense will determine how much will need to be paid for the fine. The location also has to be taken into account as each state will have different parameters. 

Community service is often required in addition to or in place of other sentences. This is a way for offenders to give back to their community and make up for their wrongdoings. 

Counseling may also be ordered by the judge. This could be substance abuse counseling, psychological counseling, or even just anger management classes.


When arrested for a misdemeanor, it’s important to be aware of the process that follows and your rights as an accused individual. 

Everyone is assumed innocent until proven guilty, so do not accept any pressure or intimidation into falsely admitting guilt. 

Being knowledgeable of the criminal justice system will help ensure you receive a fair trial and outcome.