There is often a misconception about misdemeanors. Many see them as a “slap on the wrist” or a minor charge. Whether it is loitering, trespassing or disorderly conduct, many people perceive these charges as petty offenses. But the reality is one misdemeanor charge can bring long term consequences. Countless people throughout Utah are falsely charged with misdemeanors. Because they may not seem like major crimes, many people simply accept the charges. However, they make up the vast majority of crimes charged by law enforcement officers throughout the country. And just one arrest can affect your ability to get a job, a college scholarship or getting a home or car loan.
What Is a Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are defined as a minor criminal offense. Although they are generally considered less serious compared to felonies, just one conviction from a misdemeanor charge can permanently stain a person’s reputation. They make up the vast majority of crimes committed in Salt Lake City and throughout the United States. Consider this statistic. Nearly 1 million felony convictions are processed each year. During that same period, there will be 10 million misdemeanors.
Types of Misdemeanors
Not all misdemeanors are the same. Most jurisdictions divide them into three categories–high or gross misdemeanors (Class A), ordinary misdemeanors (Class B) and petty misdemeanors (Class C). Because misdemeanors are classified as crimes of “moral ineptitude” they are often more punishable with jail time rather than fines. Here’s a simple breakdown of each type of misdemeanor:
Class C: These misdemeanors typically involve cases such as, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, driving without a license or driving with an expired license. The punishment for Class C misdemeanors typically range from up to 90 days in a county jail to up to $1,000 in fines. Depending on the charges, those convicted may be ordered to attend classes or treatment.
Class B: Assault, DUI, possession of less than gram of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, reckless driving and trespassing are some of the most common cases. Punishment may result in up to six months in jail and nearly $2,000 in fines along with possible classes, treatment on probation supervision.
Class A: These are the most serious misdemeanor cases including assaulting a police officer, DUI with injury, theft of property ranging from $500 to $1,500 and criminal mischief. Penalties can range from more than one year in county jail to nearly $5,000 worth of fines along with treatment related classes or supervised probation.
A Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Countless people throughout Utah are charged with crimes they did not commit. The vast majority involve misdemeanor charges. Although the penalties are not as severe as a felony, a misdemeanor can greatly affect your future. It is vital to fight these charges as quickly and aggressively as possible. The Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney at White & Matern, PLLC are ready to help. Over the years, they have helped protect the rights of countless clients with the goal of placing them in the best position to succeed. To learn more on how they can help, contact their Salt Lake City law office today and schedule a free initial consultation.