Many people assume that misdemeanor crimes are trivial and don’t require the assistance of an attorney. While it is true that misdemeanor crimes result in less penalties than felonies if you are convicted, these crimes are still life changing. The short answer is yes, you absolutely still need a lawyer to represent you after an arrest for a misdemeanor crime.
While some misdemeanors won’t result in jail time, some will. No matter how short the sentence, or even if you end up being ordered to jail only on the weekends, your life will still be significantly changed by incarceration. A lawyer may be able to help you avoid incarceration at all, whereas facing charges without a lawyer gives you a higher chance of incurring the maximum penalties.
Most misdemeanors have fines attached to them. You may face jail time and fines, or just fines. Either way, the amount you’re ordered to pay could be much more than you can afford. An attorney can help you minimize or eliminate fines.
For some misdemeanor crimes, if you are found guilty, you will be ordered to complete mandatory counseling. Most often, this is for drug and alcohol related crimes, but a judge can impose mandatory counseling for nearly any crime if he or she sees fit. While going to counseling may seem doable, it’s surprising how much mandatory counseling can get in the way of your daily life. Counselors are less willing to work with your schedule knowing that you have to complete the requirements, and if you miss due to being sick or having things come up at work, it’s not like just rescheduling with your doctor. The court will be notified and you may face additional punishment.
A Permanent Criminal Record
Perhaps the most important of all misdemeanor penalties to recognize is that you’ll have a permanent criminal record. These records are available to employers, lenders, schools, apartment complexes, and more, and can make it extraordinarily difficult for you to move on with your life even after successfully completing all court requirements.
At the Law Offices of Donald J. Matson, we can help protect your rights in the event that you are charged with a misdemeanor. We know that misdemeanor crimes can result in life changing penalties, and we’ll fight for your charges to be reduced or dismissed entirely. Contact us today for a consultation at (626) 792-1900.