When someone thinks of a federal case, they usually imagine big and serious crimes. However, just as there are state misdemeanors, there are also federal misdemeanors which can affect your divorce case. They are still crimes, but they aren’t as serious as felonies. There are many different types of federal misdemeanors including those that are common and those that rarely occur. Let’s get a better understanding of just what a federal misdemeanor is.
What Is a Federal Misdemeanor?
A federal misdemeanor is a crime that violates federal law or is an offense that is committed on federal property that violates the law of the state. If someone were to commit what would typically be a state misdemeanor, for example, but they do so on federal property, it then becomes a federal crime. If the crime happens in a federal building or on a military base, for example, this will take it from the state court to the federal court. Below are a few of the more common types of federal misdemeanors.
Theft of Public Property
Stealing public property can be considered a felony misdemeanor depending on what type of property was stolen and where it was stolen from. If it was stolen from a federal building, monument, park, etc., then it would be considered a felony misdemeanor in most cases. The same could be true of vandalism. However, depending on the expense of the damage caused, it could be treated as a more serious crime.
Not Filing Income Tax Returns
If you don’t file your income tax returns, it is considered a federal misdemeanor in most cases. Other tax crimes, such as fraud, defiance in paying taxes, etc., will often be considered a felony. Simply not filing for a year or two will generally be a misdemeanor, and those charges could open you up to larger investigations.
Committing Assault on Federal Property or Against Certain Federal Employees
Assault is always a crime. Whether it’s an offense that will be handled by the states or by the federal court will depend on who was assaulted and/or where the offense took place. If it happened on federal property, such as at a military base, or a federal government building, it would be handled by the federal court.
If the person who was assaulted was a federal employee, it could go through federal court even if the assault happened off federal property. For example, if a federal agent is assaulted while in the line of duty on public property or private property, it would likely be a federal case.
Crimes on Federal Land
When you go to a national park, you are going to a federally run property. The federal government is in charge, and they often have certain rules and regulations in place that you are required to follow. There may be certain areas in the park you can’t go to, for example. If you don’t abide by the laws in the park, you could be arrested and charged with a felony or a misdemeanor that would go to federal court.
These are some of the more common federal misdemeanors that happen, but it’s not a full list of the different types of crimes that could end up in federal court. Often, the location where the crime took place, along with the perceived victims, will determine whether it is a federal crime or a state crime.
How Are Misdemeanors Broken Down?
You know that a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony. However, within the realm of misdemeanors, there are different classifications or groups that indicate the severity of the crime and the punishments that are given.
The least serious are Class C misdemeanors. They will have a sentence of 30 days or less, but more than five days. They may also have a $5,000 fine that is in lieu of or in addition to the time in jail.
Class B misdemeanors will have jail time of between 30 days and six months and/or a $5,000 fine. The class C and B are typically called petty offenses. If an offense carries less than five days, it’s considered an infraction and isn’t criminal.
Of course, there are also Class A misdemeanors. They will carry a sentence of between six months and a year, and/or a much higher fine—up to $100,000.
What Should You Do?
No one wants to have to go to court to try to absolve themselves of the crime they are accused of committing. Court is always intimidating, and that’s especially true when you are the one who is being accused. Even though misdemeanors carry less time than felonies, federal misdemeanor punishments can still be harsh.
Therefore, you don’t want to attempt to act on your own behalf in these cases. Even though you might have the right to speak on your behalf, it’s rarely a good idea. There are too many things that could go wrong, and you could end up with a large fine and time in jail if you aren’t careful.
When you are facing a federal misdemeanor, or any type of legal case for that matter, your best option will always be to work with an attorney. You should find a lawyer who understands cases like yours and who has experience when it comes to handling cases in federal court. This is not a time when you want to do it yourself or just hope for the best. It’s serious business, and you need someone you can trust with experience on your side.
The best thing to do is to get in touch with counsel as soon as possible. The moment you know you are in trouble, you should request to speak with an attorney. You don’t want to wait until your trial date is approaching before you start to think about your case and getting an attorney. It can all be overwhelming, and it’s normal for some people to want to ignore it and hope it goes away. Here’s the harsh truth. It won’t. Regardless of the crime, you need to contact an attorney right away.