In 2011, almost 420,000 adults were arrested for misdemeanor crimes in the state of New York. Misdemeanors are divided into two levels, and can result in up to a year in county jail. Common misdemeanors include shoplifting, trespassing and certain small drug offenses.
However, there has been a recent increase in the number of petty misdemeanor arrests for so-called “quality of life” crimes. Reminiscent of the Kevin Bacon classic, Footloose, officers arrested a middle-aged couple for dancing on the subway platform. Furthermore, the dancing duo was thrown in jail for almost 24 hours. While this crime is not commonly prosecuted, it is technically a misdemeanor offense. Other little-known examples include walking between subway cars and taking more than one seat on the subway.
This practice is burdensome for both the city and the individual. It is a huge cost to the criminal justice system, adding to the overcrowding of jails and congestion in the courts. And while the charges are frequently dismissed, the individual is still left with heavy legal expenses and the trauma of a night in jail.
When you’re charged with a crime — even a misdemeanor — it can have a serious impact on many aspects of your life. Ultimately, it may even result in jail time.