If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, you may be tempted to plead guilty or accept a plea agreement because you want to put the whole ordeal behind you. You may be thinking, “It’s only a misdemeanor, right?” Wrong.
The consequences of a misdemeanor conviction can be far more severe than you might think. And accepting a misdemeanor conviction could change the course of your life. While circumstances and situations vary, you should seriously consider presenting a compelling defense and think twice before accepting a misdemeanor conviction on your record.
Misdemeanors in Ohio
Misdemeanors are divided into five separate criminal categories. There are first-, second-, third-, and fourth-degree misdemeanors followed by minor misdemeanors. First-degree misdemeanor crimes are the most severe. They carry penalties of up to 180 days in jail. You could also be ordered to pay fines as high as $1,000.
In contrast, fourth-degree misdemeanors carry less harsh penalties. A fourth-degree misdemeanor is still severe. You could spend up to thirty days in jail and be ordered to pay fines of up to $250.
Some misdemeanors could be eligible for alternative sentencing or pre-trial diversion programs. If you successfully complete a program, the charges against you could be dismissed. Your defense lawyer will explain your eligibility for these programs and can negotiate with the prosecutor to get you admitted.
What are Misdemeanor Offenses?
Minor misdemeanor convictions do not carry any jail time. However, a conviction could still result in a fine as high as $150. Some common Ohio misdemeanors you could face include:
- Reckless Driving
- Drug Possession
- DUI / OVI
- Disorderly Conduct
- Criminal Trespass
- Loitering for Prostitution
- Obstructing Official Business
- Abuse of a Corpse
- Manufacture or Sale of Drug Materials
- Petty Theft
- Carrying a Gun without a Permit
- Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle
These are only a few of the misdemeanor charges you could face. But you are entitled to a legal defense if you have been arrested and charged with another misdemeanor not listed here.
Why You Shouldn’t Accept a Misdemeanor Conviction
You might be ready to move past whatever led to your charges; however, accepting a conviction might not be the best way to do so. Here are the main reasons why you should never simply accept a misdemeanor conviction.
1. You Will Still Face Criminal Penalties
Although misdemeanors are less severe than felonies, a conviction doesn’t mean that you won’t face penalties. You can still spend significant time in jail. You also may be ordered to pay hefty fines, in addition to:
- Community service
- Completion of a drug or alcohol treatment program
- License suspension or revocation
- Citizenship and immigration issues
As you can see, misdemeanor charges are worth fighting. These penalties will undoubtedly impact your life.
2. Misdemeanors Limit Opportunities
The negative consequences of a misdemeanor in your background don’t end with the criminal penalties. Being convicted could cause irreparable damage to your reputation, strain personal relationships, and make it difficult to build trust with others.
If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor, you could also:
- Lose your job
- Have trouble finding a new job
- Have trouble finding housing
- Experience difficulty securing loans or financial aid
- Experience relationship issues
- Have your professional license suspended or revoked
Accepting a conviction means accepting the fact you’ve been proven guilty. The stakes are high, and accepting a misdemeanor without a fight may not be in your best interests. Consider all your options before accepting your misdemeanor charges.
3. Your Criminal Record Can Haunt You
Felony convictions are not the only crime that can show up on a background check. A misdemeanor conviction will remain on your record for life. And, if you were to wind up in legal trouble again, your record can be used to justify even harsher sentencing.
You may have the chance to expunge your record, but not all offenses are eligible. And you’ll have to pay additional fees and get a qualified attorney to represent you. You may also have to wait a certain amount of time after your conviction before being eligible for expungement.
A Lawyer Can Help You Avoid a Misdemeanor Conviction
Working with a defense attorney is your best bet to beat the charges against you and avoid a misdemeanor conviction. From the moment you’re charged, they can play a vital role in securing your freedom by:
- Filing motions to suppress unlawfully obtained evidence
- Challenging the legality of your arrest
- Gathering evidence and witness statements to support your story
- Identifying inconsistencies and holes in the prosecution’s case
- Negotiating with the prosecutor for alternative sentencing or dismissal of the charges
In addition to their legal knowledge, a lawyer can provide the guidance and support you need during a stressful and confusing time. While having a lawyer doesn’t guarantee your freedom, you can rest assured knowing your attorney will fight to defend your rights and do everything in their power to keep you from being convicted.
Speak to a Cincinnati Defense Lawyer at LHA
Misdemeanor charges are serious. Maybe more so than you might have thought. You should never simply accept a conviction, as it could follow you for the rest of your life. You have the right to defend yourself – exercise that right.
Get help from an experienced Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer at Luftman, Heck & Associates. Schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation when you call our office at (513) 338-1890. Or fill out our contact form to get started on your defense strategy as soon as today.