Misdemeanors refer to less severe crimes such as speeding, shoplifting, vandalism, trespassing, public intoxication, or vandalism. Just like felonies, misdemeanors may be subdivided in some jurisdictions. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious while infractions are the least serious.
Therefore, you may wonder, what does your type of misdemeanor mean, and should you hire an attorney to represent you in a misdemeanor? When facing any type of crime, having an attorney to represent you in any kind of charge is always the safer way to go. Therefore, if you are in Chicago or you were charged with a crime in Chicago, hire a defense attorney in Chicago to see your case through.
Here are the top reasons why you should consider hiring an attorney to represent you in your misdemeanor case.
You Won’t Have to Take a Plea Deal
In most cases, misdemeanors rarely go all the way before a jury or judges, they are often settled through plea agreement deals. Without representation, the court may offer you a sort of nominal penalty like community service or a small fine in exchange for you making a guilty plea. Most accused individuals tend to accept the plea, regardless of their innocence, just to avoid the strenuous court process. Due to the nature of petty crimes or misdemeanors, it seems a lot easier to simply plead guilty, and skip the court processes.
The short-sighted decision to plead guilty leaves out the fact that no matter how less serious the felony is, it still counts and goes on your criminal record. While even experienced defense attorneys may advise you to accept a plea deal, they can always bargain to get you an expunged or sealed record agreement.
Such a deal would mean that once you agree to the plea deal and successfully pass a given amount of time without further incidences, the records are expunged and will no longer prop up on your criminal background checks. Without such an agreement, you end up with a criminal record for the rest of your life, this can even affect your ability to get jobs. Hiring a defense attorney may get you out of both the criminal proceedings and having a criminal record.
Misdemeanor Cases Can Quickly Escalate into Serious Charges
Offenses that seem minor and innocent at the time of the charge often tend to take a wider path and escalate to charges that are much more severe. For instance, a charge for a drunken bar fight may easily turn into a manslaughter charge if the victim mysteriously and suddenly dies.
Free Yourself from Collateral Consequences
A lot of people are often unaware that state penalties have collateral consequences attached to criminal convictions. Such consequences are irrespective of whether you get fines or probation, and are triggered once you get convicted. Examples of collateral consequences include losing a professional license, losing voting rights, ineligibility to get public funds, loss of gun rights, ineligibility to attend jury duty, and much more.
Unfortunately, you cannot immediately tell whether you will be subject to a collateral consequence. However, defense attorneys conversant with cases like yours can easily deduct from past cases the consequences you may face, and advise you accordingly.
Speak to an Attorney
No matter how ridiculous, or simple, the crime you were charged with may appear, it’s essential that you have a strong advocate by your side. Note that there is a reason why every person has a constitutional right to a lawyer in all cases. Ensure you exercise this right through consulting a criminal defense attorney even before listening to a plea deal and giving further information on your case. The attorney will ensure that you are safe from overzealous prosecutors taking advantage of you.