Misdemeanor Defense Attorneys in Hollywood Ensuring Clients Understand Their Charges and Options
Everyone makes mistakes or does things they wish they hadn’t, and it’s not unusual for those indiscretions to include a run or two with the law. If it’s your first offense or it was a minor crime, you’re likely to be charged with a misdemeanor — but this doesn’t mean that you should attempt to handle the charges on your own or that you don’t need legal representation. Find out what misdemeanor crimes are, what the potential penalties are if you’re convicted, and why you still need an attorney.
If you’re not sure whether you need an attorney for a misdemeanor charge, contact Magilligan Law to schedule a free 15-minute case evaluation where you can speak with a criminal defense attorney. Having legal representation may increase the chances of getting your charges dropped, an acquittal, or a lesser sentence.
What Does It Mean If a Charge Is Classified as a Misdemeanor?
Criminal charges can be misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanor charges are less serious than felonies and carry lighter sentences in the event of a conviction. Misdemeanor charges have a sentence of up to 1 year, and that sentence is served in a county jail instead of a state prison. If it’s your first offense, you may be able to avoid jail time altogether by participating in a diversion program or getting probation. A misdemeanor conviction doesn’t usually have to be disclosed to employers or restrict you from future employment like a felony conviction does, but it’s still important to take your charges seriously and put forward the best defense possible.
Can Misdemeanors Ever Be Prosecuted as Felonies?
It is possible for crimes that are normally misdemeanors to be prosecuted as felonies under Florida law. This can happen if there are extenuating circumstances, such as the victim being a minor or if there was a firearm involved. An assault charge is a good example of this possibility. In Florida, simple assault is a misdemeanor, but if the accused used a weapon during the assault, the charge could be upgraded to aggravated assault, which is a felony. This can also happen with other crimes, such as drunk driving. DUI is usually a misdemeanor, but if you have multiple DUIs or injured someone in a wreck while you were driving under the influence, you could face felony charges instead.
It’s important to discuss your charges with a criminal defense attorney to understand what may happen. You should never assume that a charge will automatically be a misdemeanor. Your attorney can walk you through your exact charges and what your options are to respond.
Are the Penalties for Misdemeanor Crimes Lower?
Compared to the potential prison sentences and fines associated with felony convictions, the penalties for committing a misdemeanor are less serious. However, facing up to a year in jail is still a big deal and something that can derail the course of your life. If you’re incarcerated, you will lose your job, have difficulty maintaining relationships with family members and friends, and have to quit school if you’re currently in college. Being charged with a misdemeanor doesn’t mean you get a free pass, and while it’s possible to avoid jail time, it’s not a guarantee. You should always take criminal charges seriously and seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to evaluate your case and represent your interests.
Do I Really Need an Attorney for Misdemeanor Charges?
Anytime you are facing criminal charges, you should consult with an attorney. Even if you know someone who was able to get the charges dropped or a probation-only sentence without a lawyer, every situation is different, and you don’t want to gamble your freedom on someone else’s circumstances. Some people avoid going to an attorney after they are charged with a misdemeanor because they’re worried about the cost. But you could end up paying far more without a lawyer helping you. While it’s true that attorneys charge for their services, you could end up losing much more if you’re convicted and end up serving jail time or losing your job. Many attorneys, including Magilligan Law, offer a free case evaluation so you can get a better understanding of how an attorney can help you and what it’s going to cost upfront before you get started.
What Happens After I’m Arrested?
After you’re arrested, you will go to an arraignment hearing. This is where you will enter your plea, and the next court date will be set. If at all possible, it’s best to meet with a defense attorney before your arraignment hearing, as your lawyer may advise you to enter a certain plea. If you are questioned by police after your arrest, you should have an attorney present with you. Hiring an attorney sooner rather than later can also help you increase your chances of being released on your own recognizance or on bail so that you don’t have to be incarcerated while you’re waiting for trial.
When you talk with your attorney for the first time, they will let you know what your charges are and what that means as far as potential penalties and defense strategies. Your attorney will also ask you for details about what happened before, during, and after the incident. It’s important that you be 100 percent honest, as your lawyer needs all of the information to be able to represent you to the best of their ability.
No criminal charge is minor, and you shouldn’t just go along with the system just because it’s a misdemeanor charge. At Magilligan Law, we can help you address misdemeanor charges, whether that’s by going to trial or working out a plea deal. Find out more about our services and how we can help when you call 954-866-8058 to schedule your free 15-minute case evaluation.