After being arrested for a misdemeanor criminal offense, you may think you can handle the charges on your own because you believe they are not that serious. However, there is no such thing as a minor criminal offense. Whether you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor, a conviction can result in negative long-term consequences, such as jail time, fines, and a permanent record. Hiring a lawyer for a misdemeanor can benefit your case in many ways.
What is a Misdemeanor in Arizona?
Criminal offenses fall into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. A misdemeanor is considered a lesser offense, whereas a felony is a more serious crime. In Arizona, there are three levels of misdemeanors:
- Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious class, carrying a maximum penalty of six months jail time, $2,500 in fines, and three years of probation. Common misdemeanors in this class include a DUI, shoplifting, and assault with injury.
- Class 2 misdemeanors are less severe, with penalties of four months in jail, fines up to $750, and two years probation. Some class 2 misdemeanors include verbal assault and reckless driving.
- Class 3 misdemeanors are the least severe class. They have maximum penalties of one month in jail, $500 fines, and one year of probation. You can earn a class 3 misdemeanor charge for excessive speeding, assaultive touching, and leaving the scene of a parked car accident.
If a misdemeanor does not expressly provide a specific class, the default is a class 2 misdemeanor.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer for a Misdemeanor
No matter what class of misdemeanor you are charged with, it is beneficial to you and your case to hire a lawyer. Three reasons to hire a lawyer for a misdemeanor charge are:
1. You Are Subject to Serious Penalties
Misdemeanors can carry serious penalties, including a jail sentence, fines, and probation, and have the possibility of going to trial. Hiring a good attorney can help you avoid a trial by negotiating with prosecutors and getting you the best possible plea agreement. An attorney can also identify any problems with your case, lowering your penalties.
2. You May Have a Permanent Criminal Record
In addition to the penalties associated with a misdemeanor, a criminal conviction will also end up on your permanent record. A conviction will negatively impact many aspects of your life, making it difficult to obtain employment and apply for housing. Because of this, it is extremely important that you retain an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to help you avoid conviction or get your record expunged to erase prior convictions.
3. You Don’t Have to Plead Guilty
Being charged with a misdemeanor does not automatically mean you are guilty. Pleading guilty without the help of a lawyer denies you the opportunity to challenge the charges against you, which can result in the maximum penalties held against you. An attorney can investigate your arrest, collect evidence, and develop a strong defense strategy to help you receive the best outcome for your case.
Tucson Misdemeanor Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with any class of misdemeanor in Arizona, contact Grabb & Durando to make the most of your case. Our Tucson criminal defense attorneys have helped countless Arizonans with criminal cases get positive outcomes.