What is a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a lesser charge for a crime, not as serious as a felony yet more so than an infraction. The maximum sentence for a misdemeanor is a mandatory fine and up to 1 year in jail, though typical punishments also include probation or court-ordered community service. Examples of misdemeanor crimes include vandalism, simple assault, reckless driving, disorderly conduct, and petty theft.
What is a felony?
A felony charge is more serious than a misdemeanor, and usually comprises dangerous or violent crimes, like murder, arson, sexual assault, kidnapping, or even certain DUI crimes. A conviction for a felony may result in at least 1 year of confinement in a state prison and in certain situations could lead to the death penalty.
Can a felony charge be reduced to a misdemeanor?
Yes, in certain circumstances a felony charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor. This typically happens in cases where the defense is able to prove that certain elements of a case, those necessary for it to qualify as a felony, are nonexistent. A charge could also be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor if a plea deal is arranged.
If I have a criminal record, how could it affect my case?
When a person already has a criminal record, any crime they commit is punished more severely than if the crime was a first offense. Previous convictions could add to the charge and result in longer time behind bars, a longer probationary period, stiffer fines, and so on.
How will a misdemeanor affect my criminal record? A felony?
Any conviction will result in a criminal record, though some charges are certainly more severe than others. A misdemeanor like vandalism or theft may result in the loss of certain job opportunities, but is not nearly as damaging as being listed as a felon. Convicted felons often find difficulty in obtaining suitable housing, and may be turned away from certain jobs. While some prospective employers and landlords may give felons the benefit of the doubt, numerous others will turn felons away.
Do I need a criminal defense attorney if I’m charged with a misdemeanor?
While misdemeanors are not as serious as felony charges, they can still have a lasting negative impact on a person. If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, it is crucial that you hire an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the legalities of your case, providing you with the best possible chance for a favorable outcome. A competent attorney will seek to have your charges reduced, and in some cases may even be able to have all charges dropped.
If you are facing charges for either a misdemeanor or a felony, contact Jansen and Davis, P.A. to discuss your case and schedule a free consultation.