It is JUST a misdemeanor. How serious can it be? Do I even really need a lawyer? These might be the thoughts running through your mind if you have been charged with a misdemeanor. Because misdemeanors are usually thought of as minor offenses, people charged with misdemeanors often think they can go it alone in court because the consequences of a misdemeanor conviction are minimal.
In our experience, there is no such thing as a small crime. Any criminal charge, even a misdemeanor, can have serious, long term consequences. While it may feel like a pain, especially financially, hiring an attorney for your misdemeanor charge is usually worth it in the long run.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, consider these recommendations when deciding whether or not to hire an attorney:
What is a misdemeanor?
Nevada law defines a misdemeanor as a crime punishable by up to 6 months or less in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000. Misdemeanors are not as severe as felonies or even gross misdemeanors, but the consequences of a misdemeanor can be more serious than a simple traffic ticket. Some misdemeanors have mandatory jail time imposed if a person is convicted, while other misdemeanors carry only a fine.
What types of crimes are commonly charged as misdemeanors?
Common types of crimes that are charged as misdemeanors include: assault, battery, domestic violence first and second offense, DUI first offense, petit theft, drug possession (depending on the type and amount of drug), prostitution, trespass, shoplifting and vandalism. Traffic tickets are also considered misdemeanors. Most of the misdemeanors mentioned above carry jail time of not more than 6 months and a fine of up to $1,000.
Of course, traffic tickets do not require jail time. However, a conviction for a misdemeanor domestic violence could result in a loss of custody of your children, mandatory classes and your inability to carry a firearm. Because the range of penalties is so diverse, depending upon the type of charges, it is important to at least consult an attorney if you are charged with a misdemeanor.
Why should I hire an attorney for a misdemeanor? Can’t I just represent myself?
You can definitely represent yourself if you are charged with a misdemeanor but we don’t recommend it. Keep in mind that most misdemeanors require some
minimal amount of jail time – this is true even if you aren’t convicted. Hiring an attorney to fight your misdemeanor may keep you out of jail.
Hiring a lawyer to fight your misdemeanor may also keep the misdemeanor from being on your permanent record. A criminal conviction, no matter how small the offense, will usually come up in employment background checks. It could even keep you from volunteering at your child’s school or coaching your child’s extracurricular sports teams. Having a reputable attorney on your side can help you either reduce the charges or have your case thrown out entirely.
Finally, the legal system can be scary and even overwhelming for a layperson. Prosecutors won’t care about your excuses or why you were charged. The
Prosecutor’s job is to get the conviction. Hiring an experienced attorney for your misdemeanor will help you navigate through the complexities of the court
system and will allow you the opportunity to explain yourself the right way, at the right time to avoid a conviction.
Hiring an attorney is expensive and I can’t afford it!
Let’s be honest, if you are facing a misdemeanor charge the last thing you need to worry about is your lawyer’s bill and the number one reason criminal defendants do not hire an attorney is their mistaken belief that they cannot afford one. This is a myth.
Defending a misdemeanor charge does not involve as many hearings, as much evidence, or, quite simply, as much time as defending a felony charge. This means that hiring an attorney could cost you considerably less in a misdemeanor case than it would in a felony case.
At Rosenblum Law Offices, we offer very competitive rates for misdemeanor cases and we provide our clients with flexible payment plans. If you or someone you know has been charged with a misdemeanor, call us today at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form for more information. We can help. Our attorneys for misdemeanor cases are led by a former prosecutor who has resolved thousands of misdemeanors. We look forward to helping you.