With charges pending against you, it is imperative that you fully understand what a misdemeanor is, how a conviction could impact your life, and what to do to defend yourself. A DeKalb County misdemeanor lawyer may help to answer all of these questions. With the help of an experienced criminal attorney, you may launch a vigorous defense to protect your rights and minimize any punishment.
The state divides most crimes into either felonies or misdemeanors. Felonies encompass the most serious offenses, such as homicide and rape. Misdemeanors are lower-level crimes. Some common misdemeanors include:
While not a comprehensive list, these examples show state misdemeanors cover a broad range of activities. Trial attorneys who regularly practice in the DeKalb County and State criminal courts have experience with these stressful misdemeanor charges and could help individuals navigate the system.
Not all misdemeanors are the same. The law distinguishes between general misdemeanors and those of a high and aggravating nature. The difference lies in the penalties available to the court. If warranted, any offense may receive the classification of high and aggravating. For example, this elevation may occur when the defendant is a repeat offender.
The severity of a defendant’s sentence depends on the gravity of the crime committed. Felonies carry longer prison terms and higher fines than misdemeanors. Still, misdemeanors appear on a person’s record and carry periods of imprisonment and fines that can significantly impact their lifestyle and prospects.
Georgia Code Annotated § 17-10-3(a) establishes general sentencing guidelines for misdemeanors. Those convicted may spend no more than 12 months incarcerated, pay up to $1000 in fines, or both. Misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature subject the accused to the same length of imprisonment, but fines increase up to $5000, under O.G.C.A. § 17-10-4(a).
Two other consequences arise from committing a high and aggravated misdemeanor. A person’s ability to earn time credits, which may reduce incarceration periods, are more restricted. O.G.C.A. § 42-8-35.4(a) allows judges to consider prior high and aggravated misdemeanor convictions when setting penalties in subsequent criminal cases or probation violation hearings. Factoring in this record could result in stiffer penalties for the defendant.
For either level, the sentencing judge retains the discretion to alter or modify the punishment so long as the penalty does not exceed the Code’s guidelines. If the judge deems it appropriate, they may order probation, serving time on weekends and non-work hours, suspending some or all of the sentence, restitution, counseling, mandatory classes, or community service.
A criminal record may also alter a person’s life in unsuspecting ways. Those with a record may find it difficult to secure employment, education, housing, and other opportunities. They may also forfeit the ability to own a firearm, possess a driver’s license, or maintain their professional license.
By working with a seasoned DeKalb County attorney who understands both the law and the system, those charged with misdemeanors may obtain a positive resolution of their cases and lessen the impact the event has on their lives.
Although misdemeanor offenses may not carry the lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines of felonies, those charged with such crimes should take action to defend themselves and possibly diminish any negative ramifications. Contact a skilled DeKalb County misdemeanor lawyer today. They may help you evaluate your options and take steps to achieve favorable results.