Say you’ve just been charged with a misdemeanor. What do you do? There are several options depending on your personal preference. However, it is important to understand that a misdemeanor charge is not a disaster. Very few people charged with a misdemeanor end up serving jail time. The worst likely to happen is a fine.
Hiring a Lawyer: The Usual Course of Action
The most conventional way to handle being charged with a misdemeanor is to hire a criminal lawyer. Most people charged with a misdemeanor go this route. A lawyer will provide you with professional legal know-how and an organized defense. However, hiring a lawyer can prove costly. Also, a lawyer will either mount a long defense or tell you to plead guilty or no contest. This may not be the best outcome for you.
Representing Yourself: It’s not for Everyone
Another commonly used option for those charged with a misdemeanor is self-representation. While legal experts do not recommend this course of action, it is a feasible option if you are only charged with a misdemeanor. A felony defense is very complicated and best left to the professionals. However, defending yourself from a misdemeanor charge is much simpler for several reasons. For one, you’ll likely have your guilt or innocence determined by a judge rather than a jury. This is much quicker and less complicated. Also, self-representation allows you to completely control your own defense.
Pleading No Contest: Move On with Your Life
Many charged with a misdemeanor choose to simply plead no contest. While this option may seem off-putting at first, a little consideration sometimes reveals that it is the best option. As previously mentioned, a misdemeanor conviction is not the end of the world. You will still be eligible for the vast majority of jobs. Also, you may be able to get the record sealed. If you do that, the misdemeanor will not show up on your record. It is easiest for those under the age of 18 to get their records sealed.
Once you have researched all of your options, it is time to make a decision. It’s a good idea to get legal advice first. This does not necessarily mean hiring a lawyer. Free legal advice is available from a variety of places. Once you’ve gotten advice, make your decision immediately. Any hesitation will simply waste time and lead to you second-guessing yourself.