What Are the Different Levels of Criminal Charges in Michigan?

Criminal Defense Attorney

Our Kalamazo Criminal Defense Lawyers explain the different levels of criminal charges in Michigan.

If a prosecutor charges you with a crime, it’s essential to understand the severity of the charges and what sentencing may look like if you’re convicted. The same offense may be charged as a misdemeanor for one offender and a felony for another based on the severity of individual circumstances, the defendant’s criminal record, and other factors. Crimes in Michigan fall under three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Let’s define each of these terms and review the different levels of charges in Michigan to understand the distinctions and how these charges may affect you.


Violations of local ordinances are often considered infractions. These charges require no jail time and are usually resolved by paying a fine. Common infractions include speeding and jaywalking. Every infraction is eligible to be fought in court.  The offender may decide to pay the speeding ticket or the parking ticket and move on. While the offense is often resolved with a minor fine, often collateral consequences like points off your license and a possible increase with insurance premiums can be a burden. A lawyer can help mitigate these penalties.


Misdemeanor charges are brought against people who violate local or state laws. Examples of misdemeanor charges include assault and battery, trespassing, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, domestic violence, and drug possession. A wide variety of crimes fall under the misdemeanor category, but a prosecutor may upgrade a charge to a felony under certain circumstances. A conviction for a misdemeanor charge carries various penalties based on the different levels of misdemeanors in Michigan. These penalties may include a fine, loss of driver’s license, mandatory addiction or mental health treatment, community service, probation, and jail time. If sentenced to jail time, an offender is incarcerated in local county jail, not a state prison.


Felony charges are the most serious. A prosecutor may charge an offender with a felony when the crime involves serious injury, or the offender has committed the same crime several times before.  Sentences for felonies are more with offenders being punished by up to life in prison.

What Are the Classes of Misdemeanors in Michigan?

Michigan classifies misdemeanors by the maximum possible sentenced imposed.  Prosecutors determine the charge level based on the type of crime, the offender’s intent, whether the crime was violent, the value of stolen goods or affected property, and the offender’s criminal history.

There are three classes of misdemeanors in Michigan:

93-Day Misdemeanors

93-day misdemeanors are the mildest type in the state, with penalties up to $500 in fines and

93 days in a local jail.

For example, an arrest for disrupting the peace, assault and battery, first-offense drunk driving, and shoplifting may garner a 93-day misdemeanor charge.

One-Year Misdemeanors

A one-year misdemeanor conviction results in up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in

county jail. For example, a

prosecutor may charge an offender suspected of a second-offense drunk driving.

High Court Misdemeanors

High court misdemeanors are the most severe type and include charges like negligent homicide. They are prosecuted similarly to felony charges but lack the same severity in penalties. An offender charged with a high court misdemeanor may face to up two years in state prison and up to $2,000 in fines.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer to Fight a Misdemeanor Charge in Michigan?

Although misdemeanor charges are less severe than felony charges, they can still alter the

course of your future. Whether the penalty is a simple fine with probation or a year in jail, a

misdemeanor conviction is something that will remain on your record and affect you for the rest of your life.

When you hire an attorney you can trust, you are doing what you can to secure the best possible future. The right attorney can guide you through the process, providing knowledge and recommendations on how best to move forward.

Choose a Sharp & Associates Lawyer for Your Defense

Now that you understand the different levels of charges in Michigan don’t hesitate to get help if you are being charged with a crime. When you trust the Sharp & Associates Law Firm with your case, you’ll experience the benefit of having a knowledgeable former prosecutor and an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your corner. Because we understand both the defense and prosecutorial sides of the law, we know what it takes to give each case the best chance.

Contact us for a free consultation on your case. Our law office is in Kalamazoo, but we proudly serve the entirety of west Michigan. Call 269-978-6560 today


Sharp & Associates Law Firm

Sharp & Associates Law Firm