Many people wonder if they actually need an attorney to represent them on a misdemeanor charge. While misdemeanors may be less serious than felony charges, they can still result in heavy fines and time served in the county jail system. Misdemeanors vary in degree of punishment between Class 1 misdemeanors, which are the most serious and generally carry the heaviest penalties, to Class III misdemeanors, which are considered the least serious and have the lowest penalties.
Examples of misdemeanor offenses include:
• Some computer related crimes
• Criminal mischief
• Disorderly conduct
• Resisting arrest
• Careless driving
• Possession of certain controlled substances
• Third degree assault
• Domestic violence related charges
Penalties for conviction of misdemeanor offenses generally range between $50 and $5,000 in fines and three months to two years in the county jail system. While these sentences are not as substantial as felony convictions, they do become part of an offender’s permanent record and will follow you for the rest of your time, so it is important to eliminate them if possible and, if not, to minimize the damage.
Some major traffic offenses such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license have their own set of penalties and sentencing guidelines, so be sure to consult an attorney to discuss the specific issues with your case.
In addition to county jail time and monetary fines, misdemeanor charges can have some unexpected consequences, such as:
• Ineligibility for certain public benefits such as housing, student loans and welfare benefits
• Loss of the right to own a firearm
• Issues finding employment, especially depending upon the type of conviction. Although many states have regulations against discriminating on the basis of a criminal record, employers may be wary of hiring someone convicted of theft or assault
• Suspension of your driver’s license
• Suspension, loss or refusal to grant a professional license
• Deportation of a non-US citizen
As you can see, even a misdemeanor charge can result in fines, jail time and a long-term personal, professional and financial impact. Don’t wait to contact Denver’s Nelson Law Office when criminal charges have been made or are expected!