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Charged with a misdemeanor: Should you hire an attorney?

Petty theft. Disorderly conduct. Trespassing. Public intoxication. We have all heard of these relatively minor infractions -- also known as misdemeanors. For some reason, the word "misdemeanor" seems to translate into "no big deal." You may think you can pay a fine and be on your way. What you may not realize, however, is that misdemeanors can carry significant consequences that you might not be prepared to face.

Like any other crime, misdemeanors can go to trial. If you are convicted, you could face expensive fines, jail time and a major blemish on your record. Misdemeanors can even become felonies if your case is not handled properly, which is why is often wise to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

A criminal defense attorney will above all else, be able to protect your rights. Your attorney will be able to notice when your rights may have been violated by police or prosecutors. He or she can also protect you from harming your own case. Not everyone knows their rights, so having someone on your side who does can be invaluable.

Any attorney can also help you avoid the potential consequences of a conviction. Your attorney could help you negotiate a favorable plea deal, and help guide your decision making as you weigh your options. If you do end up being convicted or deciding to plead guilty, your attorney could eventually help you clear your record, which will be important for finding a job and even housing.

Source: FindLaw, "Do I Need a Lawyer for a Misdemeanor?" Christopher Coble, July 30, 2015

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