In the United States, criminal offenses can be classified as either property crime or personal crime. Both of these types are then grouped according to their severity with felony being the most serious. Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are considered lesser crimes than felonies, but graver than infractions.
Whether a certain criminal act would be considered as a felony, misdemeanor, or infraction depends largely on each state. In fact, many states further classify different levels of misdemeanors. When a person commits a crime that's considered as a misdemeanor, he or she may or may not serve jail time for it. The maximum sentence for misdemeanors is a mere 12 months.
Aside from serving jail time, there are a few states where people convicted with misdemeanors lose their civil rights like all convicted felons do. Some of these rights include the right to carry guns and the right to vote. Being prohibited from getting employed in certain jobs, however, is a punishment that all states can impose on certain types of misdemeanor crimes.
Crimes that are usually deemed as misdemeanors, such as driving under the influence or DUI, could turn into felonies due to certain circumstances, such as actually hitting a pedestrian while driving.