Criminal offenses are generally divided into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. The former is generally less severe than the latter and is generally met with lighter sentencing and legal consequences as a result. Getting charged with misdemeanor DUI or theft is always serious, but with exception to the most extreme circumstances, it generally isn’t as bad as a felony rape or murder charge.
That begs the question: is it even worth investing in legal counsel to help you defend a misdemeanor charge? Since the charge is typically less dire, couldn’t you just represent yourself under lower pressure? You could if you wanted to, but in the large majority of cases, it’s not a wise course of action. You should still seek proper counsel from a Fargo criminal defense lawyer, even if you’re dealing with a lighter misdemeanor case, and below are only a few of many reasons why.
You should not take the hit for a crime you did not commit, even if it is a misdemeanor charge. Remember the first and most basic universal norm of our legal system – you are innocent until proven guilty. While fighting the criminal justice system seems like an insurmountable task, you can fight for your innocence with the help of the right defense lawyer.
Even if you believe there is no point in fighting charges for an offense you committed, your attorney can identify possible ways to defend against your charges. The prosecutor might not have enough evidence to prove your charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The police might have violated your rights. All of this can help to get your charges dropped, even if you thought a conviction was inevitable.
You also should not face overly harsh penalties for a conviction. By pleading guilty from the outset with no counsel to help you, you open yourself up to facing the harshest possible penalties for the crime you’re charged with. Prosecutors often do not offer plea bargains to unrepresented defendants. When you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, they can help scale down, mitigate, or drop the charges and/or penalties altogether.
Even “lighter” misdemeanors can still be met with serious, draconian punishments that greatly impact your life. Under North Dakota law, a Class A misdemeanor can be punishable with a maximum $3,000 fine and 360 days of jail time. That’s almost an entire year of your freedom that could be lost, and even having one offense on your criminal record could still impact your freedom in the years following.
Where you live, where you work, and where you go to school could all be greatly limited by a misdemeanor conviction. With stakes this high, you’ll want to exhaust all options to ensure that your charges are dismissed or at least reduced, and the best option for that is an experienced legal professional.
Under the Sixth Amendment, you have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford a lawyer, the state will provide one to you, should you choose to accept it. The Constitution provides defendants with this right to legal counsel for good reason – because the right legal guidance can greatly improve the outcome of your case and ensure your rights are protected.
That’s why if you live in Fargo or the Greater Midwest, you’ll want to count on us to fight your misdemeanor charge. They have the experience, expertise, and criminal defense criteria necessary to assert your innocence and freedom. To learn more and schedule a free initial consultation, email Tatum O’Brien directly or give the O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss team a call at 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 toll-free.