Compared to a felony charge, allegations of a misdemeanor offense are less serious and do not hold as extreme penalties. However, depending on your financial situation, facing a misdemeanor can be devasting.
Every year throughout the United States, there are 13 million misdemeanors filed. But does the criminal justice system affect the poor disproportionately?
Petty charges can significantly affect those who cannot afford to pay
People who have low incomes and are charged with misdemeanor offenses can suffer exponentially due to the financial burden allegations can entail.
If you lack the ability to quickly pay for a minor offense, you could suffer long-term effects. Although many misdemeanors are petty, you might experience:
- Financial penalties, including bail, fines and fees
- Extended time in jail
- Lost wages
Your bail, which is supposed to ensure your court appearance, may have nothing to do with how likely you are to leave town. However, if you cannot afford to pay your bail, you could remain in jail until you are either proven, rather than presumed, innocent. But what kinds of offenses could result in a misdemeanor on your record?
Examples of misdemeanors in Tennessee
You might think only serious offenses could damage your reputation. However, a misdemeanor offense could result in a permanent record.
Allegations of misdemeanor offenses which could affect your future include:
- Reckless driving
- Public intoxication
- Criminal trespassing
- Drug possession
Unfortunately, a public defender may neither have the time nor resources to properly handle a misdemeanor case. And a record could affect your employment, education or public assistance.
Hiring an attorney may save you money in the long run
Depending on your situation, if you face misdemeanor charges and struggle financially, it may be in your best interest to have a criminal defense attorney help you figure out the best way to proceed.