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How much do you really know about misdemeanors?

As in most other jurisdictions, the state of Georgia breaks crimes down into felonies and misdemeanors. For those somewhat unfamiliar with these terms, the former typically includes more serious offenses punishable by one year or more in a state prison, while the latter includes less serious offenses punishable by one year or less in a county jail.

It's important to understand, however, that Georgia law actually differs in some respects from the other states in that it subdivides these less serious offenses into two categories: misdemeanors and misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature.

What is the difference between misdemeanors and misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature?

As implied by the name, misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature are more serious and therefore allow for somewhat more severe penalties. By way of illustration, striking another person is charged as simple battery and treated as misdemeanor. Conversely, striking a family member or a person over 65 is also charged as simple battery, but treated as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

What then is the possible punishment for misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature?

Those convicted of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature can be sentenced to up to 12 months in county jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $5,000.

How does this compare to the punishment for misdemeanors?

Those convicted of a misdemeanor can be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000 and/or be sentenced to up to 12 months in county jail. Alternatively, they may be sentenced to up to 12 months in a state diversion center.

Are sentencing alternatives available for either offense?

Yes. Judges have the option of placing those convicted of either type of offense on probation or suspending their sentence.

What all of this should underscore is that anyone facing misdemeanor charges should not take the matter lightly and give very serious consideration to speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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