A misdemeanor attorney is a type of criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of misdemeanor crimes. Although misdemeanor offenses tend to be less severe than felony crimes, these infractions do show up on a convicted individual’s criminal background check, and can jeopardize future employment and educational opportunities. As a result, many people facing misdemeanor charges opt to hire a misdemeanor attorney to represent them in court.
The exact laws regarding misdemeanor penalties vary from country to country, but these offenses generally carry less severe punishments than felonies, and result in no loss of personal liberties — such as the right to vote or obtain a passport. In most cases, the penalty for a misdemeanor conviction is a small fine or less than thirty days imprisonment. Despite these relatively light punishments, however, a misdemeanor charge can lead to severe consequences if, for example, the convicted individual has a prior criminal history, or if any victims were injured due to the misdemeanor act.
The job of a misdemeanor attorney, therefore, is to help the defendant to avoid a trial by negotiating a plea bargain, or reduced sentence, in exchange for a guilty plea. If a plea bargain cannot be reached, the misdemeanor attorney will prepare a persuasive defense strategy, provide expert legal advice during all stages of the trial process, and argue on the client’s behalf during the courtroom trial, to ensure that his or her constitutional rights are upheld.
Although most misdemeanor offenses do not involve a trial by jury, in instances where a jury is required, the misdemeanor attorney is responsible for selecting jury members who are most likely to view his or her client favorably. Additionally, due to their advanced knowledge of criminal law, misdemeanor attorneys are also responsible for informing their clients of potential outcomes of the misdemeanor charges, and letting them know what to expect if they are convicted of the offense. A misdemeanor attorney will also help determine the best option for each client based on the unique facts of the charges and the client’s needs.
There are two types of defense attorneys, public defenders and private attorneys. Public defenders are employed by the government to represent indigent clients who cannot afford to hire an attorney of their own, while private attorneys are selected and privately paid by the client. Regardless of whether the attorney is a public defender or a private criminal defense attorney, individuals facing misdemeanor charges should consider obtaining help from an experienced criminal attorney due to the complex nature of criminal law. Indeed, legal representation can often make the difference between a conviction and a dismissal of misdemeanor charges.