One of the first reactions many people have after finding themselves in handcuffs, is panic over whether they they may end up serving time behind bars. The idea of jail can frightening for most people, and the accused may want to do everything he or she can to prevent enduring such a punishment. Perhaps the most proactive thing the accused can do is meet with a lawyer about their arrest, to see what the chances are of going to jail if convicted. Regardless of the crime, the accused is likely to have plenty of questions that they are urgent to have answered:
What is the definition of a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is defined as a crime that is not quite as serious as a felony, and may be punishable through a steep fine and/or brief jail time. The specific laws pertaining to which crimes are misdemeanors depends on the jurisdiction. In general, misdemeanors include crimes like being drunk in public, petty theft, disrupting the peace, traffic violations, and simple assault/battery. The person facing a charge for the misdemeanor will have to show up to a local justice or municipal court. It may be in the accused’s best interest to hire legal representation for these court sessions.
I’m worried about serving jail-time, how long may I be sentenced?
Overall, a misdemeanor crime means the person may spend one year or less behind bars and serve this time in a county jail, as opposed to state or federal prison. By contrast, anyone charged with a felony may be sentenced to minimum of one year in prison. So in most cases, the maximum jail sentence someone charged with a misdemeanor may endure is twelve months.
Why should I hire a lawyer? Can’t I just represent myself?
Representing yourself in court for a misdemeanor may not end well, as the average person just does not have the knowledge that a lawyer does when it comes to the legal system. It may be a better idea for the accused to talk with a lawyer about their crime first, to determine the right course of action and defense strategy. Additionally, there are certain crimes that may be more-so flexible in classification. Meaning, it is possible that the misdemeanor may be charged as a felony instead, depending on the jurisdiction and prosecutor. By hiring a lawyer, it can help protect you from facing a harsher punishment than necessary.
What are factors that could influence my punishment?
There are a few variables that may have an influence on the severity of the punishment for a misdemeanor. Things like whether the accused has a criminal history, has committed a crime similar before, overall character, if anyone was hurt, amount of property damage caused, community perspective of the crime, and more. A felony lawyer Bloomington, IL relies on can help the accused build a defense case in attempt to minimize the extent of the punishment, decrease jail time, or strive to get the charge dropped completely.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Pioletti & Pioletti for their insight into family law and misdemeanor arrests.