Given the choice of facing a felony or a misdemeanor charge, people would choose a misdemeanor. This is because the consequences of a conviction for a misdemeanor offense are typically less severe than those for a felony conviction.
That being said, there are still penalties if a person pleads guilty or is convicted of a misdemeanor offense. It is a mistake to minimize these situations or assume you just need to plead guilty and move forward. Below, we explain three reasons why it is critical to take a misdemeanor charge -- and your defense against that charge -- seriously.
- There are still consequences to a misdemeanor. When compared to the penalties for a felony, a misdemeanor can certainly be preferable. This is not the same as saying there are no consequences. According to state laws, a misdemeanor in Tennessee can lead to financial penalties of up to $2,500 and imprisonment of up to 11 months and 29 days.
- Even brief periods of incarceration can upend your life. In just a short amount of time behind bars, a person could lose his or her job, miss family events or get behind on responsibilities like mortgage payments or school work.
- Misdemeanors can haunt you for years to come. Having any type of criminal conviction on your record can be problematic, even if it's long after you have put the situation behind you. It could show up in background checks and Internet searches which could affect your relationships, reputation and even job prospects.
It is also worth noting that a single conviction can be damaging if a person is convicted of another offense in the future. Having a criminal record may lead to escalated penalties and increased scrutiny by police, prosecutors and judges.
If you are facing a misdemeanor charge in relation to a drug or alcohol offense, domestic violence or theft in Tennessee, then it is crucial to take the situation seriously. Do not assume it will go away on its own or that the penalties will not significantly affect your life. Instead, you can discuss your case and legal options with an experienced defense attorney.