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Why You Need an Attorney for a Misdemeanor Charge

Why You Need an Attorney for a Misdemeanor Charge

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense and are facing charges, you need to get a lawyer as soon as possible. Whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony charges, both are quite serious and can result in highly undesirable outcomes. Although they’re not as serious as felonies, being convicted of certain misdemeanors can result in serious consequences that will disrupt your life. Having an attorney is the only way you’ll have any chance to avoid the maximum penalties.

Don’t just close your eyes and wait for everything to be over. Here are four of the most critical reasons you need an attorney when facing a misdemeanor charge.

1. Misdemeanor penalties can be harsh

There’s no getting around the penalties that come with a misdemeanor conviction – unless you have a lawyer. If you want to get the lightest possible sentence, an attorney is required because you won’t know the law well enough to reduce your own charges. Even knowing the law isn’t enough. You also need to know how to make arguments and persuade the judge or jury, which are skills that require a law degree and plenty of experience.

Don’t be fooled into complacency by misdemeanor charges. Just because you’re not facing felony charges doesn’t mean you won’t do jail time. In fact, in Tennessee, a Class B misdemeanor comes with a maximum of 6 months in jail and up to $500 in fines. These offenses include:

·  Disorderly conduct

·  Aggravated criminal trespass

·  Reckless driving

·  Driving with a suspended license

All of these charges are fairly common, and if you’re facing any of these misdemeanors in TN or any other state with similar laws, you could end up doing time. An attorney might not be able to get your charges dismissed, but they can get them reduced and help you get far less than the maximum amount of jail time.

2. Going to jail can disrupt your life

When you’re sentenced, if the consequences include time in jail, your life will be disrupted. If you’re renting an apartment or house, you’ll have to figure out how to keep paying rent and utility bills while you’re in jail without a source of income. If you can’t keep paying your bills, you’ll have to sell all your belongings or store them for the duration of time you’ll be in jail and then you’ll have to find another place to live when you get out.

It’s also likely that you’ll lose your job, so you can expect to go through a job hunt when you get out. However, finding a job with a criminal record can be difficult, depending on the crime. After a certain period of time, you might be able to have your record expunged, but it’s not going to happen immediately. You’ll need to plan for finding a job that won’t deny you for having a criminal record. In some states, employers can’t deny you a job for having a conviction, but there are exceptions. For example, if you’re convicted of driving with a suspended license, you probably won’t be able to get a job driving a cab and it’s most likely legal for employers to reject you for your conviction.

3. An attorney can reduce your charges

While having a lawyer won’t guarantee you can avoid a criminal conviction completely, it does greatly increase your chances of getting a lighter, reduced sentence. Imagine if you tried to defend yourself and you didn’t know it was possible to get a lighter sentence. You wouldn’t even try, thinking you’re going to get the same sentence regardless.

In this situation, you might be tempted to plead guilty, thinking it will make everything go faster. If you plead guilty, you’re more likely to get the maximum sentence. When you have an attorney to defend you, they’ll fight to get you smaller fines and less time in jail.

4. An attorney will make sure there’s a court reporter present

If you defend yourself, it’s your job to make sure you have a court reporter to document everything that is said during your hearing and/or trial. If you appeal the court’s decision, you’ll need to provide the appellate court with a transcript so they can review the other court’s decision. If you don’t have a transcript, the appellate court just has to assume the lower court made the right decision and will let their decision stand.

When you hire a criminal defense attorney, they’ll make sure there’s a court reporter there to document everything. They won’t rely on anyone else to make this happen.

Always have legal representation

No matter how great you are at negotiating, nothing can replace the expertise of a skilled attorney. If you’re facing misdemeanor charges, don’t try to represent yourself. Hire an attorney to get the best possible outcome.