Misdemeanor Charges: Why You Still Need an Attorney

Someone who faces felony charges will usually understand how a guilty verdict could alter their lives. Felony convictions can lead to large fines and lengthy prison stays. A misdemeanor charge may seem less intimidating, but complacency causes problems. Get informed of the risks before you go without representation.

Possible Jail Time

The legal system does not restrict time behind bars to felonies. Misdemeanor charges can also lead to jail time. A Class A misdemeanor, the most serious offenses in the misdemeanor category, can include up to 364 days in jail. Class B misdemeanor convictions could cause 180 days of incarceration, and a Class C conviction could require up to 30 days of jail time.

Some misdemeanor sentences allow people to gain credit, so they only serve half the time sentenced. Not every misdemeanor can include the credits. Some charges have a minimum sentence length. A criminal defense attorney strives for not-guilty verdicts but also works to lower the charges to something that will not include a minimum required sentence.

Established Criminal Record

Misdemeanors are less serious crimes than felonies, but they are still crimes, and they can show up on background checks for life. Some states do not allow background checks to reveal criminal records more than seven years old, but everyone should do all they can to avoid seven years of lost opportunities.

Whether the misdemeanor will prevent someone from receiving an offer of employment may depend on the type of charge. Employers may avoid people with convictions for violent acts or drug charges. A bank or any employer with assets to protect may not want someone convicted of theft. A small mistake could have severe and long-reaching consequences.

Lost Options

Employment opportunities are not the only thing that a criminal record can affect. Many property management companies and property owners perform background screening during the rental application process. Some companies may automatically reject the applications of people with a criminal charge on their record.

Property owners cannot refuse to rent to someone just because of a criminal record, but they can refuse for specific crimes if they have existing policies in place that list the restrictions. A refusal to rent to former convicts is not legal in all cities, but the conviction could cause the rental company to seek out a legal reason to refuse the applicant.

Other potential losses due to a misdemeanor conviction can affect nearly every part of life. People with charges may find themselves unable to qualify for a student loan or receive welfare benefits. A conviction could mean the inability to hold some professional licenses and could cost immigrants the chance to remain in the country.

Rights Not Honored

Most police officers and judges abide by the law, but mistakes can take place. The legal system sees about 13 million misdemeanor cases filed each year in the United States. Mistakes can occur easily in an overwhelmed court system. In some instances, the mistakes could make it possible to have the charges dropped.

A lawyer that understands the laws of the State of Illinois will have a better chance to notice when something about the case was not handled properly. A public defender, unfortunately, is a part of the overwhelmed legal system. Court-appointed attorneys may not have the time to research the case thoroughly and find any mistakes.

Misdemeanor convictions affect reputations, employment opportunities, and much more. Professional legal representation could be the only thing that prevents a conviction. At Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLC, we offer an experienced team with a drive to do everything possible to benefit our clients. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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