Most people are aware that there are different levels of crimes. You just have to watch the average crime show on TV to know this. However, many people continue to believe that you only need to hire an attorney if you are accused of a serious crime, like a felony. Due to this, some criminal defendants may forgo the expense of hiring a lawyer for a lesser, misdemeanor offense. Yet, you should know that being convicted of a misdemeanor can still cause a lot of problems in your life. These convictions still have a huge effect on your record, job opportunities and pocket book. See why you should consider hiring a private attorney for a misdemeanor case.
You Still Have Rights
There are certain rights that still apply in a misdemeanor case. Protecting these rights could make a difference in how your case plays out. For example, you have the right to the presence of an attorney during interrogation by police. This is true even in a misdemeanor case. After all, it is still considered a criminal investigation. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can speak to the police alone because the charge isn't too serious. Your statements can still be used against you to secure a conviction.
Certain rights, such as those provided by the 4th Amendment, can actually help you win your case. Lets say that the police performed a search of your vehicle or home without a warrant. This may qualify as a violation of your constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches. An experienced attorney can help you make your case before the judge. If a 4th Amendment violation is found, it may be the basis for dismissing your case. This could mean the difference between having a criminal record and none at all.
You Can Still Go to Jail
Although the circumstances surrounding a misdemeanor may not seem serious, the offense still carries weight. If you don't negotiate a favorable deal on a misdemeanor charge, the case can go to an actual trial. When this occurs, the stakes rise significantly. According to Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-203.14, a class A, B or C misdemeanor is punishable by jail time. In Utah, you can spend up to a year in jail for a misdemeanor conviction. An offense, such as the possession of marijuana, can even get you up to six months. Therefore, don't assume that you're not in serious trouble because the crime is classified as a misdemeanor.
Play It Safe
A crime is a crime. It makes sense to hire an experienced attorney regardless of the severity of the offense. Aside from the jail time and fines, a misdemeanor can also prevent you from getting the job of your choice. Additionally, it can disqualify you from holding certain professional licenses. Don't play with your future. If you are accused of a misdemeanor offense, it is important to hire a criminal law attorney to review your case.
In Utah, contact Spencer and Jensen PLLC for help with criminal law matters. An experienced lawyer can assist you during all stages of the process.