This blog seeks to dispel the myth that misdemeanors do not matter. Sometimes the facts are assumed to be so bad on a criminal case that our clients call and say “hey, I just don’t want a felony on my record – I will plead to a misdemeanor. “ While it is true that the difference between felonies and misdemeanors have important distinctions, misdemeanor convictions can have detrimental effects on the rest of your life, and that should not be ignored.
In this blog, we will talk about the impact of being charged with a misdemeanor, and further, how being convicted of a misdemeanor can affect your future. Like all of our blogs, this is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to substitute the advice and counsel of a criminal defense lawyer.
Misdemeanor convictions impact how you are treated in the criminal justice system
If you are charged with a crime, you have more options regarding your defense and the outcome of your case if you don’t already have a criminal record. In North Carolina, Misdemeanor sentencing, felony sentencing, and federal sentencing are all impacted by prior convictions, including misdemeanor convictions. The same is generally true for South Carolina state crimes.
Additionally, plea offers, conditional discharge options in North Carolina, and pre-trial intervention options in South Carolina are affected by prior misdemeanor convictions. Additionally, any prior convictions can affect your strategy in a criminal trial, because your record can usually be brought in if you decide to testify.
Misdemeanors matter in everyday life
It is not just future dealings with the criminal justice system you have to worry about. Being convicted of a misdemeanor can have a detrimental effect on job prospects, as well as numerous other collateral consequences. Though, it is often falsely assumed that old criminal cases won’t matter after a while, as a general rule, criminal records stay with you forever.
It is important to note that we are not just talking about convictions because even the charge itself can have a negative impact on a background check. This is why we typically recommend expunctions to clear your criminal record of anything you can. The thought that “it was just a misdemeanor” is the wrong way to approach things.
What should I do If I was charged with a misdemeanor?
All of the preceding information was to give you some background to make this next statement; if you have been charged with a misdemeanor, fight it with everything you have. Hire a criminal defense attorney, find out all of your options, and don’t just “pay a fine” or take a guilty plea because you think it is minor. Criminal convictions are rarely as minor as people think.
If you have been charged with a crime, contact us. Gilles Law handles a wide variety of criminal cases including North Carolina state and federal criminal charges, as well as South Carolina state and federal criminal charges.