Is a Misdemeanor a Serious Charge?
There are three main categories of criminal offenses in Michigan: Felony offenses, misdemeanor offenses, and a category that will be called “infractions” for purposes of this post. If you were to place each of these categories along a scale of severity, the “least severe” end of the scale would be occupied by the “infraction” class. This would include traffic offenses, violations of administrative regulations, and civil citations. At the opposite end of the scale would be felonies. Misdemeanors would fall in between these two extremes. But this does not mean that misdemeanors should not be regarded as serious offenses. A misdemeanor conviction can carry with it consequences that can be just as severe as some felony convictions.
Possible Penalties for Misdemeanor Convictions
Michigan has three classifications of misdemeanors: those misdemeanors that can be punished by up to 93 days in jail, those misdemeanors that can be punished by up to one year in jail, and “high court” misdemeanors that can result in up to two years in prison. In addition, fines can be levied against the defendant:
- Misdemeanors punished by up to 93 days in jail can result in up to $500 in fines;
- Misdemeanors punished by up to one year in jail can result in up to $1,000 in fines; and
- Misdemeanors punished by up to two years in prison can result in up to $2,000 in fines.
A court may also place a person convicted of a misdemeanor on probation or other supervision. In addition to the additional costs associated with such supervision, probation can require the defendant to report to a probation officer, submit to random drug and alcohol tests, and otherwise affect the defendant’s individual freedoms.
Other Consequences of Misdemeanor Convictions
As if these consequences were not enough, there can be other, collateral consequences that follow from a misdemeanor conviction. These would include:
- Periods of license suspension or license revocation, if you are convicted of certain traffic-related misdemeanors such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Revocation or suspension of professional licenses. For instance, being convicted of certain drug-related misdemeanors or of violent misdemeanors like battery or assault can cost a defendant his or her nursing license or other professional credentials;
- Being barred from certain employment fields. For instance, convictions for theft or other similar offenses are often considered crimes of “moral turpitude” and can be grounds for refusing to hire a person for a banking- or financial sector-related job. In addition, misdemeanor convictions such as these can prevent a person from obtaining a professional license (such as a license to practice law).
- In some cases, even misdemeanor convictions can determine, in part, whether a person is accepted into an institution of higher learning.
Handle Misdemeanor Charges Appropriately With A Grand Rapids Defense Lawyer
For these reasons, it is important that individuals charged with misdemeanor offenses of any type thoroughly investigate potential defenses and receive competent legal counsel concerning how to resolve the charges. The Michigan law firm of Van Den Heuvel Law Office can help you minimize any negative consequences from your misdemeanor charges. Contact us at (616) 698-0000 or contact us online to discuss your misdemeanor charges.