You’ve been arrested for a misdemeanor. What’s next? It’s essential to know your rights and understand the legal process, both of which can be daunting. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below are five clever legal tips to know before facing misdemeanor charges.
1- Understand the Definition of Misdemeanor Charges
Misdemeanor charges are criminal charges that are less serious than felony charges. They’re typically punishable by an exemplary, community service, or jail time of less than a year.
It’s essential to understand the definition of misdemeanor charges, as well as the potential consequences so that you can make the best decisions for your case. Talk to an attorney to learn more about your specific situation and what defenses may be available.
2- Research and Choose an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
When you first learn that you’re being charged with a misdemeanor, the best thing you can do is research criminal defense attorneys. Don’t just go with the first lawyer you find—choose someone who has experience defending misdemeanors and knows the ins and outs of your state’s legal system.
Finding the right attorney can make all the difference in your case. They’ll be able to guide you through the process, give you advice on how to best approach your situation, and represent you in court. Don’t wait until the last minute to find an attorney—give yourself time to research and interview several different lawyers before making a decision.
3- Become Educated on Scheduled Court Hearings
You must attend all of your court hearings. Let the court know immediately if you can’t participate in a hearing. Ignoring a hearing will only make things worse for you.
The state will provide you with a list of your court hearings. The calendar will list the date, time, and location of each hearing. You’ll also be notified by mail of your upcoming court dates. However, rely on something other than the mail. Make sure to check the calendar yourself to confirm all dates and times.
Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before your hearing begins. This will give you enough time to check in with the clerk and find a seat in the courtroom.
4- Take a Proactive Stance in Your Case
Now that you know a little more about misdemeanors, it’s time to take a proactive stance in your case. After all, the best way to avoid having a misdemeanor on your record is to avoid being charged with one in the first place.
Here are a few things you can do to increase your chances of having your charges dropped or reduced:
- Speak to a lawyer: This is the most important thing you can do. A lawyer can advise you on the best action and help you navigate the legal system.
- Gather evidence: If you have evidence that proves your innocence or casts doubt on the prosecution’s case, is sure to give it to your lawyer. This could include eyewitness testimony, video footage, or character references.
- Cooperate with the police: It’s important to remember that the police are not your enemy. Cooperating with them and being polite will go a long way in how they deal with you and your case.
5- Consider Alternatives to Jail Time
One of the things you’ll want to consider is alternatives to jail time. This is especially true if you’re facing a misdemeanor charge for the first time. Alternatives to jail time include community service, house arrest, or probation. And while these might not sound like ideal options, they’re better than spending time in jail.
Jail time can be tough on people who have families or jobs. If you have a family, you’ll want to consider how your absence will affect them. And if you have a job, you’ll want to think about how going to jail will impact your career.
Of course, alternatives to jail time are only sometimes available. But it’s worth discussing with your lawyer to see if anything can be done to avoid spending time behind bars.
If you or someone you know is facing misdemeanor charges, you must be as prepared as possible. By learning the ins and outs of the legal system, you can make the best decisions for your case and protect your rights.