Being charged with a misdemeanor can be overwhelming and nerve-racking. You could be looking at the loss of a job, a new (or addition to your) criminal record, jail time, and/or a fine. Just because a misdemeanor doesn’t have the same level of consequences as a felony doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have legal support.
What is a Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are defined as “less severe crimes.” These can include charges such as shoplifting, speeding, trespassing, vandalism, or public intoxication.
Just like a felony, a misdemeanor can be subdivided. This means that some jurisdictions have different classes of misdemeanors. Are you being charged with a Class A misdemeanor, the most serious? Or are you being charged with an infraction, the least serious? Are you aware of what this means for you?
If you are debating on whether or not to hire a lawyer for your charge, read through our top seven reasons you should hire an attorney to help you through the process.
- If you don’t have a record: Often times there are programs available to people who do not have a criminal record which could help result in a dismissal. Your attorney will know of the best options available for your situation.
- If you do have a record: Those who already have a criminal history could be looking at more severe punishments and jail time, even for a small crime. Hiring an attorney will give you the best chance of avoiding an active jail sentence.
- They have the answers: Your attorney will know how to answer the questions in your favor. They have the knowledge to guide you and help to prevent un-needed responses.
- Your Attorney Can Appear for You – Are you unable to attend your scheduled court date? Conflicts come up, but if you are expected to appear in court, you must be there. However, your attorney can appear on your behalf at court.
- They Know About Collateral Consequences – Collateral consequences are civil state penalties that attach to criminal convictions. These are not direct consequences like probation or fines, but instead they are triggered as a consequence of a conviction. This could include loss of a professional license, ineligibility of public funds including student loans or welfare benefits, loss of voting rights, ineligibility for jury duty, denied entry to Canada, loss of gun rights, and more. Are you aware if you will be subject to any of these consequences? An attorney can help you identify this and educate you on your options.
- You want to plead guilty: The guidance of an attorney is vital when pleading guilty. They will ensure that you are being treated in a fair and appropriate manner. An attorney can help you to negotiate “deals” to reduce possible charges and sentences.
- You’re Innocent: If you are being charged for a crime you did not commit, it is important to remember that the charge will stand until you are proven innocent. An attorney will help you to communicate effectively and prove your innocence to the judge.
When being charged with a misdemeanor you should always consult with an experienced attorney. Tatum O’Brien is a North Dakota/Minnesota criminal defense attorney who has many years of experience working with criminal law cases. Contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss in Fargo, North Dakota or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 to discuss your case.