Most are aware that crimes are generally classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Felonies carry stiffer penalties and can have a major impact on your life, long after you have served your sentence, while misdemeanors carry far more limited sentences, lower fines, and fewer long-term consequences.

It is important to remember that a criminal defense attorney can help you with a misdemeanor charge. Just because misdemeanors are by nature less serious than felonies does not mean you should decline an opportunity to have your rights fully exercised in court by a lawyer who is committed to fight for you.

Mesa AZ | How to Handle a Misdemeanor Charge

Should I Plead Guilty to a Misdemeanor?

It might be tempting to plead guilty in an effort to put the incident behind you, but this is usually a mistake — you can always plead guilty later, and likely with a better deal. If you are facing a jail sentence and opt to plead guilty at the very first court appearance, the judge might not accept this plea and instead enter one of “not guilty”. Remember that, once you have been convicted, the record of this charge could be something that haunts you for years to come. Having a record follow you for the rest of your life can be stressful and problematic in several ways.

Sentencing for Misdemeanors

A misdemeanor crime may call for a term of confinement in county jail, up to 6 months per misdemeanor conviction. The court does have the power to mandate that you serve the entirety of your sentence with no possibility of early release. This is one of many reasons you should have a criminal defense attorney help you craft your best defense and present the best reasons for a lower sentence. Having someone advocate for the best outcome for you is to your benefit in these situations. The maximum jail times for misdemeanors in Arizona are up to:

  • 6 months jail for a Class 1 misdemeanor
  • 4 months jail for a Class 2 misdemeanor
  • 30 days jail for a Class 3 misdemeanor

In addition to or in lieu of jail time, you may be required to pay fines as well.

Can My Record be Expunged?

The goal of expunging or setting aside a conviction is to help people move on from an unfortunate past circumstance. Unfortunately, Arizona only has ‘set aside’, but does not allow for expunging criminal records. If your conviction is set aside by the court, you may be able to truthfully answer that you have not been convicted of this particular crime. Not every crime can be set aside.

If you were wrongfully arrested, it is possible your case might be sealed by the court instead. This makes it as though the arrest never actually occurred. If you had a juvenile record that you want eliminated, you may apply to have the juvenile record destroyed.

As you can see, there are many questions that might come up in the process of fighting a misdemeanor. Having a criminal defense attorney at your side will help you through a difficult time. Having someone explain various concepts and consequences to you allows you to make better informed decisions. Contact an attorney as soon as possible, if you have been charged with a crime.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.