Charged With A Misdemeanor Crime? Here's 3 Things You Should Know
Getting charged with a crime does not automatically mean that you will be convicted of it. With all types of crimes, the court uses a system to determine if a person is guilty or innocent. If you are being charged with a misdemeanor crime, you may wonder what this means and what the consequences of the charge could be. You will need to hire a criminal attorney to represent you in the matter, and here are three things you should know.
What a Misdemeanor Is
There are three main categories of crimes, and misdemeanors fall into the middle in terms of severity. Infractions are minor offenses people commit, such as speeding while driving, and felonies are the most serious types of crimes. Felony charges can occur for murder, drug trafficking, rape, and many other things.
Convictions for misdemeanors do not result in lengthy prison sentences, but they can often have one or more of the following consequences:
- One-year county jail sentences
- Probation for one-year or longer
- Fees and restitution charges
- Requirements to take classes, such as anger management
A person can be charged with a misdemeanor for a lot of different things, including theft, selling drugs, and domestic abuse.
The Process the Court Uses for Misdemeanor Charges
When a person is charged with a misdemeanor, the court system will schedule a trial for the case. The case will likely be heard by a panel of jurors, and the jurors will decide if the defendant is guilty or innocent.
Before the trial takes place, you will be summoned to court for an initial hearing. At this hearing, the judge will ask you how you will plead (guilty, innocent, etc.), and you will be asked if you need a court-appointed lawyer. If you cannot afford to hire a criminal lawyer yourself, the court can appoint one for you.
Once the trial begins, both sides (the plaintiff and the defendant) will have time to explain their sides. The attorneys can call witnesses to testify, if necessary, and you will have the right to testify if you choose. In most cases, the defendant in the case does not get on the stand, but there are times when a defendant will.
When all information has been revealed in court, the case will be left in the hands of the jury. If they pronounce an "innocent" verdict, the charges will be dropped, and you will never again have to worry about being charged with this exact crime. If the verdict is "guilty," the judge will provide you with a sentencing, which will be determined based on your crime and the laws of sentencing in your state.
How This Charge Will Affect Your Future
If the charges are dropped, this situation will not affect your criminal record. It could affect your future simply because of the publicity the case may have received in your town. When a jury decides a person is guilty of a misdemeanor crime, the defendant will have consequences, which include more than the sentencing the court issues.
Having a misdemeanor crime on your record may have the following effects:
- It will stay on your record forever, unless you can get it expunged.
- It may have an effect on getting a job because many employers look at criminal records before hiring workers.
- You must legally report that you have a misdemeanor on your record when filling out applications (this could include applications for jobs, loans, and volunteer work).
With the help of a good lawyer, your trial might go really well and end in a verdict of innocent, but it will depend on the situation and the severity of the crime. If you have not yet hired a lawyer to represent you, call a criminal law firm today to make an appointment.