Misdemeanor Does Not Mean Minor
A first-time misdemeanor charge can’t be that big a deal, can it? After all, doesn’t a misdemeanor mean a “minor wrongdoing” or just a “mistake,” at least compared to a felony? How bad could a conviction really be if I’ve never been in trouble before? Why shouldn’t I just accept my fate, pay some fines, maybe do some community service, and move on with my life instead of spending money on a criminal lawyer?
These are all questions that may run through your mind after El Paso County prosecutors charge you with a Colorado misdemeanor. But if you base your decision about whether to hire a lawyer for first-time misdemeanor charges on the belief that it isn’t worth the money or effort, you could come to regret it.
Consequences Of A First-Time Misdemeanor Conviction In Colorado
Many Colorado Springs residents charged with a first-time misdemeanor offense view the charges as “minor” since they don’t usually involve the harsh penalties that often follow felony convictions. But the reality is that a first-time Colorado misdemeanor conviction can have major long-term consequences. To start with, you could wind up behind bars for months and pay thousands of dollars in fines, restitution, and legal fees. But even after serving your time and paying your dues, a misdemeanor conviction can limit your career, housing, education, and other opportunities and leave a stain on your reputation for years or decades to come.
The “Easy Way Out” Of A First-Time Misdemeanor May Not Be So Easy
You undoubtedly want your ordeal to be over as soon as possible with the lightest available penalties imposed. To that end, it may be tempting to enter into an agreement with El Paso County prosecutors to plead guilty to your charges rather than hiring a top-rated Colorado Springs defense attorney. By agreeing to a plea bargain, you think, you can avoid spending money on attorney’s fees, face lower penalties, and move on with your life.
Think again. Far from being the “easy way out,” an ill-advised and hasty plea agreement can lead to bigger problems than those you currently face. Make no mistake, entering into a first-time misdemeanor plea bargain means telling the judge – and everybody else – that you are guilty of a crime.
A misdemeanor conviction following a plea bargain can follow you for the rest of your life. Employers conducting criminal background checks will see your conviction and may decide not to hire you because of your history (especially if the crime you pled guilty to involves fraud or untrustworthiness). In addition, certain Colorado misdemeanor convictions may make you ineligible for specific types of employment or educational opportunities.
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Some Misdemeanors Stay On Your Record Forever
It is true that Colorado law allows for the sealing or expunging of a misdemeanor conviction from criminal records, at least after many years pass. But sealing or expungement is not available for all misdemeanors. You will not be able to remove convictions for the following misdemeanors and infractions from your criminal record:
- Class One misdemeanor traffic offenses
- Class Two misdemeanor traffic offenses
- Class A traffic infractions
- Class B traffic infractions
- Crimes involving a commercial driver’s license
- Crimes involving domestic violence
You May Have Defenses You Haven’t Considered
As discussed, pleading guilty to a first-time misdemeanor can have several significant effects on your life long after you have paid your dues. Therefore, it is not a matter to take lightly, and it’s definitely not a decision that you should make on your own.
Defending yourself or negotiating with the prosecutor without the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer could be a huge mistake. While this might be your first entanglement with the law, your criminal attorney has guided many other defendants through the process, and can not only explain the many consequences of your plea, they may also provide you with options you may not be aware of.
Importantly, the best Colorado Springs misdemeanor lawyers may tell you that you have a solid defense against the charges. Because of their experience, attorneys specializing in criminal defense may be able to identify any number of mistakes made by police that could call into question the legitimacy of your arrest and, ultimately, the viability of the charges based on that arrest. They may be able to challenge the veracity of witness testimony or move to have critical evidence deemed inadmissible.
Don’t Take Chances With Your Future: Discuss Your First-Time Misdemeanor Charges With A Criminal Defense Attorney
Colorado Springs misdemeanor attorneys understand that there is no such thing as a “minor” criminal conviction, even for first-time misdemeanors. When you contact James Newby Law for your free initial consultation, we will evaluate your case, advise you of your options, and develop a strategy to get you the best possible result.