How bad is a misdemeanor? Many people mistakenly believe that a misdemeanor conviction is not very serious, and when facing misdemeanor charges, they may enter guilty pleas quickly to avoid a trial. They might assume that a misdemeanor on their record will have little effect on their life. In actuality, as a criminal matter, a misdemeanor conviction can cause long-lasting consequences that extend long after the person has completed his or her sentence. Scroll down to learn more about the potential impacts of pleading guilty to a misdemeanor offense.
How Bad Is a Misdemeanor?
Like felony charges, misdemeanors are also serious. The primary difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the potential sentence that a person who is convicted might receive.
In Arkansas, misdemeanor offenses are divided into four classes under Ark. Code § 5-4-401, including misdemeanor classes A, B, and C and unspecified misdemeanors. For a class A misdemeanor, a convicted person can receive up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both imprisonment and a fine. Oklahoma does not divide misdemeanors into different classes. Instead, OK Stat. § 21-2110 states that people who are convicted of misdemeanors in the state may be sentenced to serve up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both imprisonment and a fine. By contrast, felony convictions can result in prison sentences and more substantial fines.
How Bad Is a Misdemeanor Criminal Record?
Regardless of the seriousness of a crime, a conviction means that you will have a criminal record. A criminal record may follow you throughout your life. If you are later convicted of another crime, the court may sentence you more harshly because of your record.
A criminal record can also make it more difficult for you to get a job. Some employers will not hire a person who has a criminal record. Others may have policies against hiring people who have specific types of convictions, such as those related to violence, theft, or fraud. For these and other reasons, a misdemeanor conviction can potentially harm your ability to develop your career.
Having a criminal record might also prevent you from entering into some types of educational programs in college. When you apply for an apartment, a landlord might deny your application based on your criminal record.
Having certain types of traffic convictions may lead to a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. A misdemeanor conviction may also impact your professional license. Many different jobs require people to meet and maintain ethical standards, including lawyers, nurses, teachers, government officials, and fiduciaries. If you have a professional license, you may be required to report your conviction to your professional licensing board. Your license may be suspended or revoked as a result of a misdemeanor conviction.
Criminal convictions, including those for misdemeanor offenses, are considered to be public information. Almost anyone can learn about your misdemeanor conviction. Having a conviction can impact your relationship at work, your romantic relationships, and your friendships. A misdemeanor conviction might also embarrass your children and family.
If you are a lawful permanent resident but are not a citizen, certain types of misdemeanor convictions may result in deportation and removal proceedings. If you are charged with a crime, it is very important for you to talk to an experienced lawyer about any potential immigration consequences that you might face before you plead guilty.
The Importance of Getting Legal Help
A criminal conviction of any type can have long-lasting impacts on your life, making it important for you to fully understand both the collateral consequences of a conviction as well as your rights. You might want to talk about the facts of what happened and the options available to you with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A lawyer might be able to identify problems with the prosecution’s case against you so that he or she can build a strong defense case for you. In addition, your attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the charges or to convince a jury that you are not guilty.
When you work with the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook, our attorneys are dedicated to securing the best possible resolution of the charges against you. Schedule a free, confidential consultation today so that you can learn about your options and your rights by calling our office at 479-783-8000 or contacting us online. We offer 24/7 assistance.