A misdemeanor offense is a criminal act committed in violation of the laws of the state of Tennessee. Punishment for a misdemeanor offense carries a jail service of at a minimum zero days in jail, to a maximum of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail with a possible fine/loss of driving privileges. Any offense with a possible jail service of one day short of a year will be a misdemeanor, while any possible jail service of one year or greater will be a felony offense.

The Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) sets out the guidelines for the three classes of misdemeanors.

1. Class A Misdemeanor: This class of misdemeanor offense carries a minimum jail service of zero days, up to a maximum jail sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days with a fine not to exceed 2,500.00 dollars (or both jail time and a fine unless otherwise provided by statute.)
2. Class B Misdemeanor: This class of misdemeanor offense carries a minimum jail service of zero days in jail, up to a maximum of six months in jail with a fine not to exceed 500.00 dollars (or both jail time and a fine unless otherwise provided by statute.)
3. Class C Misdemeanor: This class of misdemeanor offense carries a minimum jail service of zero days in jail, up to a maximum of thirty days in jail with a fine not to exceed 50.00 dollars (or both jail time and a fine unless otherwise provided by statute.)
T.C.A. § 40-35-111

It is also important to know that if convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses more than two times, the third offense can become a felony offense.

Furthermore, certain misdemeanor offenses carry mandatory minimum jail time, such as driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI). As noted above, the minimum time in jail for all misdemeanor offenses is zero days in jail. But if convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor DUI First Offense, the minimum jail time is NOT zero days, but forty-eight hours in jail with a mandatory minimum fine of $350.00, together with other serious penalties such as loss of driving privileges for a minimum of one year. See http://www.tndui.com.

Any misdemeanor offense is serious and you need to be aware of your rights and possible punishments associated with the charge. For more information about misdemeanor charges or about your legal rights with respect to an allegation of a misdemeanor offense, the lawyers at Oberman & Rice are available by calling (865) 249-7200.