Everything You Need to Know About a Misdemeanor

What’s The Difference Between An Infraction, A Misdemeanor and A Felony?

All states divide crime into three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.

  • Infractions include traffic tickets, jaywalking, and minor drug possession charges. Typically, infractions involve paying a fine and do not result in jail time, though there are some circumstances where more severe penalties may be issued.
  • Misdemeanors include charges such as petty theft, public intoxication, and reckless driving. Misdemeanors are more serious than infractions and can] be defined as any crime that has a maximum punishment of around one year in jail. Many times, jail time for misdemeanor charges will be served in county jails, as opposed to state-funded prisons. Misdemeanors typically involve very flexible punishments that can be negotiated with the prosecutors of the case. Everything from what crimes to charge, to what sort of punishments should be implemented, can be negotiable.
  • Felonies are the most serious charges and are typically categorized as any crimes that is punishable by more than a year in prison. Felony crimes include murder, kidnapping, and arson, to name a few and they come with the most severe punishments including: hefty fines, extensive prison time, and a loss many privileges (i.e. driving suspension).


Classes Of Misdemeanors And Related Punishments:

  • Class 1 (A): Fines up to $5,000, and/or a jail sentence of up to 12 months.
  • Class 2 (B): Fines up to $1,000, and/or a jail sentence of 6-9 months.
  • Class 3 (C): Fines up to $1,000, and/or a jail sentence of up to 3 months
  • Class 4 (D): Fines up to $500, and/or a jail sentence of up to 30 days.


What Is The Statute Of Limitation For Misdemeanors?

A statute of limitation is a law which prevents prosecutors from charging someone with a crime that was committed a specific number of years ago. The reasons for statutes of limitation is to ensure that evidence (i.e. eyewitness accounts) do not deteriorate over time. In Colorado, the State must start the prosecution process of any misdemeanor within 18 months of the alleged crime. If it has been over 18 months, you have the option to move to have the case dismissed.


How Do I Apply For A Public Defender?

In order to qualify to obtain a public defender, you must be deemed indigent by the State Public Defender’s office. The office uses three factors to determine if you are eligible: gross household income, household expenses compared to gross household income, and the criminal charge compared to assets which may be used to pay defense costs. If you think that you may be eligible, fill out an application form and submit it to your local Public Defender’s Office.


What If I Can’t Make My Court Date?

When you are given a ticket, there’s typically a court date already picked out for you listed on it. If you are unable to make this assigned date for any valid reason (some are listed below), you may ask for a continuance, or a delay, in the trial. In order to postpone your trial, submit a written request for a continuance at least a week before the trial to the county clerk. Make sure that you receive confirmation that a continuance has been granted by calling the county clerk if you haven’t heard anything yet. Acceptable reasons for continuances include:

  • You need more time to prepare for the trial.
  • You or one of the key witnesses to the case are out of town for the trial.
  • You need to delay a conviction in order to prevent too many ‘points’ from being accumulated on your insurance plan.


An example of a good letter requesting continuance would be:

Re: People vs. Speedman, #A-765432

Trial Date: Oct. 24, 2016

Dear [Clerk’s last name],

I am scheduled to appear for trial in the above matter on Oct. 24th, 2016. Unfortunately, I have a conference for work that I must attend in California from October 20th-29th. I am therefore requesting that the trial be continued to November 5th. Please let me know if the continuance is granted, and when my new court appointment will be.


Paul Speedman


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Revised: May 16, 2022, 6:11 a.m.
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