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Is an Attorney Really Necessary for a Misdemeanor Charge?

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Our Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers at Owenby Law, P.A. have defended clients throughout the region after they were charged with all types of crimes. While felony charges certainly put a lot on the line, any criminal allegation has the potential to threaten your freedom and your future. In order to protect yourself and fully assert your rights, working with a criminal defense attorney should be a top priority.

If you or someone you love is accused of a misdemeanor crime in Florida, you need to be aware that there are serious penalties at stake. A criminal conviction can also introduce a number of collateral consequences that threaten your future and limit your opportunities in life. When there is a great deal on the line, simply pleading guilty does nothing to limit your exposure to penalties.

When fielding calls from prospective clients who have been charged with misdemeanors, some are unsure as to whether they really need a lawyer for a misdemeanor charge. The simple fact is that having an attorney by your side during the criminal process can make the difference in your case. If you are on the fence about working with private defense lawyer for a misdemeanor case, consider the following:

  • Penalties – Misdemeanors can pose substantial criminal penalties upon conviction, including hefty fines, court fees, court-ordered classes or treatment, community service, and probation. Additionally, many misdemeanors pose the threat of imprisonment in a county jail, sometimes for up to 1 year. Other misdemeanors, including DUI, can also result in a driver’s license suspension, which can greatly impact your ability to meet the demands of daily life. There is nothing that isn’t serious about the penalties at stake in misdemeanor cases.
  • Collateral Consequences – In addition to penalties imposed by a criminal court, there are additional collateral consequences that come with a conviction. The most significant consequence comes with having a conviction on your record, which can result in a loss of your reputation and reduced opportunities for employment, schooling, housing, and more. Certain misdemeanor convictions, for specific crimes, can also preclude you from being able to work certain jobs. Some misdemeanor convictions can also result in a loss of civil rights. For example, individuals who are convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in Florida can lose their right to own a firearm.
  • Public Defenders – When you choose not to work with a private defense attorney, your alternative is the public defender. Public defender offices have become infamous for being understaffed, overburdened, and underfunded. This means that public defenders, often underpaid new or young attorneys, don’t have the time or the resources to devote much attention to your case, nor are they as available to your concerns or questions as a private lawyer. In one study from the NACDL, it was reported that public defenders in a Louisiana city dedicated just seven minutes to a clients’ defense prior to court. When there is a lot on the line, can you trust a public defender to give your case the attention it demands?

When you consider what’s at stake and what your alternatives are, the benefits of working with an attorney far outweigh the repercussions of an unmitigated conviction. Remember, one of the most important rights you possess is to have legal representation on your side when challenging the government’s case against you. By working with an experienced lawyer from our team, you can gain the support of seasoned defense lawyers who know the laws, local courts, and how to pursue the best resolution possible.

If you would like to discuss a recent arrest and criminal charge, and learn how a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney from Owenby Law, P.A. can help, contact us for a FREE consultation. We proudly serve residents throughout the region from multiple office locations.