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What is a Misdemeanor?

What is a Misdemeanor?What is a Misdemeanor?

When you are facing criminal charges, one of the first things you should prepare for is understanding what those charges mean. It is easy to be blindsided by criminal charges that you do not understand. So, before you go to court, you need to know what is a misdemeanor?

While misdemeanor charges may not Have as severe penalties as a felony, they can still have a huge impact on your future. Misdemeanor charges can also be elevated, meaning you may be surprised by the severity of the charges you are facing. Because of this, you may need to take action on your case and build a strong defense.

Your strong defense can come from the legal professionals at van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin. Our team has a combined legal experience of 175 years, and that time has come with a track record of success. No matter how minor the charges you are facing are, taking those charges seriously and seeking out a legal defense attorney can help you protect your future today.

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Misdemeanors vs. Felonies

First, what are the big differences between a misdemeanor and a felony? Both are types of criminal charges with varying severity, and both can lead to imprisonment, fines, and ongoing consequences even after you have completed your sentence. So what can you expect from each of these?

Misdemeanors are typically less serious criminal offenses compared to felonies. Many of these are nonviolent crimes or are some of the more severe traffic violations. For example, for a first-time drunk driving arrest, you may be charged with a misdemeanor.

However, just because you are facing a misdemeanor does not mean that those charges cannot severely impact your future. Even a misdemeanor can come with serious consequences, and aggravating factors can turn a misdemeanor into a felony. Felonies, in contrast, can come with years of imprisonment and a more serious mark on your criminal record.

Penalties You May Face for a Misdemeanor

Before you take the first steps to protect your future in court, it is important to understand the penalties you may face if you are convicted of a misdemeanor. When you understand those penalties, you may have a better grasp of the devastating impacts that even a misdemeanor can have on your life. Below are just some of the penalties you may face, along with case-specific penalties such as licensed suspensions, restraining orders, and more.

Jail Time

Misdemeanors may come with time in your county jail. While the amount of time you may spend there can vary depending on the specifics of your charges, you may spend up to one year in jail. While this may not seem like a significant amount of time, it can impact your life.

For example, you may not be allowed to return to work. That can lead to a loss of your job, and that can leave a gap in your work experience. Even a few months in jail can hurt your career and impact your ability to return to your life.

Court Fines

You may also have court fines for the charges you are facing. The specifics of this penalty will vary, but your fines may be as much as a few thousand dollars. While that may not be as much as felony charges may be worth, they can still be a severe financial burden.

That is especially true if you are unable to work generally, or if you lost your job because of the criminal conviction. These fees will not be waived if you are unable to work, and it can be difficult to avoid that debt. Worse, it can place a financial burden on your family while you are completing your jail sentence.

Long-Term Consequences for Convictions

Unfortunately, the penalties may not end even after you have completed your sentence. You may have regained your license, completed a jail sentence, or even paid off your fines, but those do not erase your criminal record. That record will show in background checks, and that can impact the rest of your life.

For example, you may be seeking a new job, or you may be looking for a loan to buy a house. When a potential employer or lender sees that you have a criminal record through a background check, they may choose not to work with you. That can leave you without many opportunities, no matter how minor the misdemeanor may seem.

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Is It Worthwhile to Fight a Misdemeanor?

Many people see misdemeanor charges as less severe or important than felony charges. While it is true that misdemeanors typically come with far smaller penalties, that does not mean it is not worthwhile to fight back. In fact, fighting misdemeanor charges and seeking a not-guilty verdict can protect your future.

Keep in mind as well that misdemeanor charges can be worsened. For example, while a DUI is typically a misdemeanor, certain factors can worsen those charges, such as having a minor in the vehicle or harming someone during a drunk driving accident. If you are accused of committing a DUI and these aggravating factors are present, you may face felony charges after all.

Do I Need a Defense Attorney?

When you are facing any type of criminal charges, having a defense attorney on your side can be crucial. You may not have the legal experience to build a strong defense and represent yourself in a Philadelphia courtroom. Your attorneys can provide that experience and guidance to help you overcome the situation.

Your defense attorney is also here to help you gather evidence in support of your future. Building a strong defense is vital, and a major part of that defense is your evidence. Your attorney can help you determine what evidence you need for your defense and can present that evidence in the courtroom to prove your innocence.

Seek Out a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Even misdemeanor charges can lead to serious penalties. Unfortunately, you may not have the tools at hand to protect that future. That is where a criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia can step in.

When you are ready to seek out an attorney, reach out to our team at van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin. Our attorneys offer services to help you defend your case, whether you're facing a misdemeanor or felony charge. To learn more about our services or set up a consultation, reach out by calling or filling out our online contact form.

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