Reasons to Hire a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer for Misdemeanor Charges
If you’ve been arrested on misdemeanor charges in Florida, you probably assume that the implications are no big deal. You might think that it’s possible to avoid jail time as a first offender, get probation only, or simply have to pay a fine. When the case is over, you expect to go back to life as usual.
Make no mistake: All criminal charges can be serious, even if you don’t end up going to jail for a conviction. You might not realize the extensive implications; you’re just relieved to not be incarcerated. When you do realize the grave nature of misdemeanor charges, you’ll understand why it’s critical to retain a Florida criminal defense attorney to represent you. The following reasons should convince you.
There are serious penalties for a misdemeanor conviction. While not as serious as a felony, a judge can issue a harsh sentence if you’re convicted on misdemeanor charges. For instance:
- A First Degree Misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year imprisonment, a maximum fine of $1,000 or both.
- A Second Degree Misdemeanor includes such penalties as 60 days’ incarceration, a fine up to $500, or both.
Enhancements may apply to your case. If you have a prior conviction on your criminal record or there are aggravating circumstances involved with the crime, a misdemeanor conviction could lead to even tougher punishment. In some cases, the misdemeanor could be elevated up one level – i.e., a First Degree Misdemeanor becomes a Third Degree Felony and carries the associated penalties.
You could experience collateral consequences in the long term. Keep in mind that a misdemeanor conviction will stay on your record. One of the biggest consequences affects your employment, since it will show up when you go through a background check. Plus:
- You could lose your professional license;
- You get kicked out of college;
- Your driving privileges could be suspended – even for non-driving offenses;
- A conviction could affect child custody or visitation; and,
- You may not qualify for certain loans.
A Florida misdemeanor defense lawyer knows the law. There are countless statutes, court rules, and case precedent in a criminal matter. If you don’t have a legal background, you can’t take advantage of defenses that work in your favor – or avoid issues that adversely affect your rights, such as police or prosecutor errors. In addition, you might not be aware of other alternatives to resolve the charges, such as:
- Deferred judgment;
- Diversion programs;
- Drug Court; and,
- Plea bargaining.
Through these options, you might not see any jail time – with some, you may even qualify to have the charges dismissed by meeting court requirements.
Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Assist with Misdemeanor Charges
You owe it to yourself and your future to work with experienced legal counsel if you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor – or any other crime. For more information on how our team can assist with your case, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik to set up a confidential consultation at our office. We can review your situation and determine the best defense strategies for fighting the charges.