If you are charged with a misdemeanor, it is important that you immediately seek legal counsel.  A misdemeanor charge can change your life dramatically.  Finding a criminal defense lawyer is your wisest choice since attempting to represent yourself can be a terrible mistake.  When you appear in court, the courts assume that you and/or your legal counsel have researched the rules, procedures, and laws sufficiently.  The misdemeanor law is extremely complex and there are many rules and procedures to follow.  If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Bergman & Yiangou for a free consultation.  Our criminal defense lawyers will aggressively fight to defend your rights so that you will receive the best possible results.

What is a misdemeanor?

Criminal offenses can be divided into two categories: misdemeanor and felony.  A misdemeanor is classified as a lesser criminal act.  The punishment for a misdemeanor is generally less severe than the punishment for a felony.

What is the punishment for a misdemeanor?

columbus_misdemeanor_fingerprintsMisdemeanors are often punished by assessing monetary fines, probation, license suspension, and community service.  A misdemeanor can also result in incarceration for up to one year in a county jail depending on the degree of crime committed.  Misdemeanors will appear on criminal background checks conducted by potential employers and can prevent you from finding employment or obtaining professional licenses in the medical, legal, or law enforcement fields.  Having a record of prior misdemeanors can escalate the severity of future crimes, and can turn future misdemeanors into felonies.

What types of crimes are considered misdemeanors?

Examples of common misdemeanors crimes include public intoxication, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, trespassing, drug possession, vandalism, passing bad checks, and OVI.

What happens if I am charged with a misdemeanor?

If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you will receive notification by a citation or a complaint and summons.  If the charge is given to you by a law enforcement officer, you will receive a citation.  If the misdemeanor charge is given to you by a prosecutor, it will be delivered by means of a complaint and summons.

The misdemeanor citation or complaint and summons will describe the act for which you have been charged and will inform you of a date, time, and location when you must appear in court.  At the initial court appearance, also called the arraignment, you will be informed of your rights, the charges against you, and the potential penalties.  You will also be asked if you have retained a lawyer, wish to seek an attorney, and how you plead (guilty or not guilty).  Depending on the plea, you will either be sentenced, or the case will proceed to trial.

What are the different degrees of misdemeanors?

The Ohio Revised Code provides for five classifications of misdemeanors, all with varying maximum prison terms and fines.  A minor misdemeanor will result in no prison term and a fine of up to $150.00.  The remaining degrees of misdemeanor charges range from fourth degree to first degree.  A fourth degree misdemeanor can result in a prison term of not more than thirty days and a fine of up to $250.00.  A third degree misdemeanor can result in a prison term of not more than sixty days and a fine of up to $500.00.  A second degree misdemeanor can result in a prison term of not more than ninety days and a fine of up to $750.00.  Lastly, a first degree misdemeanor can result in a prison term of not more than one hundred eighty days and a fine of up to $1,000.00.  The degree of the misdemeanor is determined by the classification of the crime committed.

While misdemeanors are often viewed as minor crimes, one should always consult with an experienced lawyer when charged with any misdemeanor.  Misdemeanors are often viewed as being petty crimes having little effect on the person, when in fact they can result in serious charges that can completely change a person’s family and social life.  It is imperative that you hire an aggressive and knowledgeable attorney to help you navigate through these complicated criminal defense charges.

If you have been charged with any level of misdemeanor, contact the experienced attorneys at Bergman & Yiangou for a free initial consultation.