You should never go to criminal court or resolve a criminal matter without speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney. While misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, they still carry serious consequences that can ruin your life. A good criminal defense attorney will be able to help you be prepared for court and achieve the best outcome possible for your case.
What can happen if I am found guilty of a misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail, fines up to $1,000.00, additional fines for restitution payments, court ordered rehabilitation programs or community service for certain offenses, and/or court ordered supervision by a probation officer at your expense for each misdemeanor charge you are facing.
Can I wait until after my first court date to hire a lawyer?
A good criminal defense attorney doesn’t wait for your first court date to start working, and neither should you. People who wait for their first court date before speaking with an attorney risk consequences such as license suspensions (which must be appealed within 30 days of receiving a misdemeanor citation for DUI [maybe hyperlink our drivers license blog]), the loss of evidence (security footage or phone records that are deleted after 30 days), and the missed opportunity to avoid having to take time off of work or school for unnecessary court appearances.
But my prosecutor says he will offer me probation if I plead no contest (nolo)?
While refusing to admit guilt, a No Contest (nolo) plea will result in your conviction and sentencing the same as a guilty plea. You will also be subject to potential fines, probation supervision fees, random drug and alcohol screens at your expense, and court ordered community service or rehabilitation programs. Just because a prosecutor offers a resolution, does not mean it’s the best possible resolution available.
How can a misdemeanor conviction be used against me in the future?
Employers, Courts, and the government may use misdemeanor convictions on your record to deny applications for employment, admissions into the armed services, student aid, regular and commercial drivers licenses, and even use convictions against you when considering whether or not to grant your significant other a restraining order.
Courts will also use previous convictions against you in order to sentence you more harshly if you unfortunately come back to court in the future for an unrelated matter.
Can a misdemeanor impact my immigration status?
YES. If you are undocumented, a misdemeanor can result in your immediate deportation. If you are here lawfully, a misdemeanor conviction can lead to your deportation and prevent any future application for citizenship.
Misdemeanor convictions can have serious consequences. Don’t fear facing them, be prepared to overcome them. Contact the Awad Legal Team today for a free consultation to discuss what we can do to protect your rights, your record, and your future.