A class B misdemeanor is a classification for a crime that is considered less serious than a felony, and in the mid-range of offenses charged as misdemeanors. Not all jurisdictions have a designation for class B misdemeanors but those that do tend to have class A and class C misdemeanors as well, with A being the most serious and C the least serious. Punishments for class B misdemeanors may rely on legal standards in the jurisdiction as well as the circumstances of the crime.
It is important to note that the way in which misdemeanors are charged in different areas will affect the applicable punishments. Something considered a class A misdemeanor in one region may be a class B in another, or may even be upgraded to a felony. Repeated class B misdemeanors, such as multiple convictions of driving under the influence, may bring a higher grade of punishment. To understand the specific designations of misdemeanors in each region, it is important to study local law or consult with local legal professionals.
Generally, there are three types of punishments for class B misdemeanors: jail time, fines, and alternative sentences. In some regions, the type of punishment may be at the discretion of the judge, based on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal record. In other areas, punishments for class B misdemeanors may be based on a set schedule of options that require the judge to assign certain punishments for certain crimes. Some regions also use a combination of these two approaches, providing a sentencing schedule for general use, but also allowing judges to use their own methods to determine an appropriate sentence.
Jail time is one of the more common punishments for class B misdemeanors. Typically, the time in jail is 90 days or less, but the defendant may receive credit for time served while awaiting trial. Judges may also choose to order a suspended sentence, which means that the defendant may not have to serve time if he or she completes alternative programs, such as drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs. Suspended sentences may also be dependent on the convicted person staying out of trouble and sticking to certain provisional guidelines.
Fines are often used as punishments for class B misdemeanors. These typically have an upper limit, such as $1,000 US Dollars (USD), based on a fine schedule for certain crimes. If a person cannot pay a fine, he or she may be subject to property or asset seizure or jail time. Paying a fine is often the quickest way to conclude a case.
Alternative sentences are used in cases where a judge feels that a person may benefit and learn more from treatment programs or therapy than from jail time or fines. These sentences may include community service, rehabilitation programs, driver safety classes, anger management courses, or court-ordered therapy. Typically, alternative sentences are used with a suspended jail sentence or fine, to ensure that the convicted person has incentive to complete the program.