Crimes are broken down into two distinct categories: felonies and misdemeanors. While felonies consist of more serious offenses and are subject to harsher penalties, misdemeanors are often considered to be less serious offenses and are subject to less severe penalties.
If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor, you may be asking yourself, "Should I hire a criminal defense attorney?" While the criminal consequences for felonies are far more serious compared to misdemeanors, you can still face criminal penalties that can have a negative impact on your life.
The following are several reasons why it is a good idea to hiring a lawyer if you’re facing a misdemeanor charge:
- You still face criminal penalties – Depending on the charge, defendants can face a range of severe short- and long-term consequences. Misdemeanors can still threaten your future by exposing you to the risk of incarceration. Those who are convicted are commonly penalized by fines and additional repercussions, such as probation, community service, court-ordered classes, and even driver’s license suspension.
- You face having a criminal record – Having a criminal record can limit professional and personal opportunities in the future. Employers may be hesitant to hire someone who has previously committed a crime, even though it is only a misdemeanor. Additionally, having a criminal record can impact your ability to secure suitable housing or get admitted into a university.
- Public defenders can only do so much – If you choose not to hire a private attorney, you have the right to work with a public defender. Keep in mind, you do not have the ability to choose who represents you. Additionally, public defenders typically have a huge caseload and are underfunded, meaning they may not have the proper time and resources to build an effective defense for your case.
An experienced, skilled criminal defense attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Although many people do not take misdemeanors seriously, they absolutely must. Any type of criminal charge can result in a lengthy jail sentence, costly fines, and will ultimately stain your public record. A lawyer can investigate your arrest, gather and evaluate evidence, seek the help of expert witnesses, and build a strong defense strategy to either get your case dismissed, obtain a “not guilty” verdict at trial, or substantially reduce your charges.