Understanding the Serious Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction
Experienced Legal Representation for Misdemeanor Offenses in New Mexico
Most criminal defendants assume that a misdemeanor charge does not carry any serious or life-long consequences; therefore, they don’t bother hiring representation for their case. This is often a big mistake. Misdemeanors may not carry as harsh of a jail sentence, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have serious consequences to consider.
The misdemeanor itself is a relatively minor violation of the law, especially when compared to its felony counterpart. Misdemeanors come with direct and collateral consequences that could affect you permanently.
The Direct Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction
There are direct consequences that come if you are convicted of a misdemeanor. These are imposed during sentencing, and the punishments are typically less than a felony. However, do not misconstrue that for being “minor” or insignificant. These consequences are still quite harsh for anyone to endure.
Some may even take you away from your job, friends, family, and loved ones. These include:
- Going to jail. If you have multiple misdemeanors for the same offense or multiple misdemeanors that you’re convicted of at the same time, you could spend up to a year or more in jail.
- Paying fines. You will have extensive fines that can deplete you financially. These can be as high as several thousand dollars in some jurisdictions.
- Mandatory classes. You may be required to take mandatory classes (at your own expense) as part of your sentence. These will take you away from friends and family, impose restrictions on your job, and even limit what you can do in your free time.
- Community service. If you have community service, you will have to take time away from work and family to serve as many hours as dictated by the court. If you fail to meet the community service burden, you may be required to serve the remainder of time in jail.
The Collateral Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction
These are the consequences that most defendants do not think about, but should consider the most. Collateral consequences are not the same as the original criminal punishment. Instead, they are civil penalties that can affect your life for good.
For example, you will have a criminal record. Even if it was just for a misdemeanor offense, the criminal record creates multiple hurdles for you to overcome, including:
- Being unable to own a firearm. If you are convicted of a drug offense, even at the misdemeanor level, you may not be allowed to own a gun.
- Being ineligible for public housing and other government-run benefits. It has been made clear by the Public Housing Authority that they are allowed to deny you housing if you have been involved in any alcohol or drug-related crimes – which includes a DUI. You may automatically be disqualified for other forms of government assistance as well because of your record.
- Difficulty getting a job. Employers will ask if you have been convicted of a crime in the past. Also, if you have a conviction that prevents you from driving or being in certain areas, you may not be able to get work for jobs that require you to enter those areas.
- Loss or denial of a professional license. If you are in a trade business, you need a professional license. However, you are required to report your misdemeanor to those licensing bureaus, and some may revoke your professional license. If you are trying to get into a new career, your professional license application could be denied with your conviction.
- Suspended driver’s license. In addition to losing professional licenses, you may lose your driver’s license for an extended period of time. In some cases, it could be over a year before you are allowed to drive again.
Meet with a Criminal Defense Attorney to Avoid the Harsh Consequences of Your Conviction
While it may just be a misdemeanor, do not discount the fact that it is still a crime and comes with a criminal record. If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor, meet with the attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices to explore your options. Schedule your free case evaluation now at 505-375-4664 or request more information online.