In the U.S. criminal justice system, infractions, misdemeanors and felonies generally represent the three categories of crimes. FindLaw explains that infractions usually consist of petty offenses such as trespassing, littering, most traffic tickets, etc. for which, if convicted, you must pay a fine, but not serve any jail time. Misdemeanors are more serious crimes for which, in most states, you can spend up to one year in the county jail if convicted, plus pay a fine. If convicted of a felony, the most serious category of crimes, you likely will spend multiple years in a state penitentiary.
Each state has the right to construct its own criminal classification system and the penalties therefor. Iowa has a rather unique way of categorizing misdemeanors, dividing them into the following three categories:
- Simple misdemeanors
- Serious misdemeanors
- Aggravated misdemeanors
Crimes such as the following represent simple misdemeanors in Iowa:
- Assault with no resulting bodily harm
- Domestic abuse (first-time offense)
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
If convicted of a simple misdemeanor, you face a maximum 30-day jail sentence and a fine ranging between $65 and $625.
Crimes such as the following represent serious misdemeanors in Iowa:
- Operating while intoxicated (first-time offense)
- Drug possession (first-time offense)
- Assault resulting in bodily harm
- Domestic abuse (second-time offense)
If convicted of a serious misdemeanor, you face a maximum 1-year jail sentence and a fine ranging between $315 and $1,875.
Crimes such as the following represent aggravated misdemeanors in Iowa:
- Operating while intoxicated (second-time offense)
- Drug possession (second-time offense)
- Indecent exposure
If convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor, you face a maximum 2-year jail sentence and a fine ranging between $625 and $6,280. This potential 2-year jail sentence is what makes Iowa unique. In virtually all other states, a misdemeanor conviction carries only a 1-year maximum jail sentence.