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Misdemeanor convictions come with collateral consequences

Misdemeanor criminal charges are often thought of as minor — and they’re certainly not as serious as felonies. However, misdemeanors make up around 80% of the criminal cases that are heard in this country, and the courts do take these seriously. In fact, people can face harsh consequences for misdemeanor convictions that will affect their lives well into the future.

The harshness of misdemeanors often starts before the person is convicted. People who are arrested on these charges may have to pay a considerable amount of bail to get out of jail while their case moves through the criminal justice system. The high cost of bail in these cases will sometimes cause low-income individuals to plead guilty to the charges just to get out jail and back to their lives.

Unfortunately, the individuals who do this don’t realize that they might be making their future much harder. Like felonies, misdemeanor convictions show up on a person’s criminal record. This means that a person who pleads guilty may have difficulties finding employment down the road. They may be excluded from some housing opportunities and employment opportunities.

There’s also the financial impact of pleading guilty. The fines that come with this are often high, and some people who are working lower-wage jobs might have difficulties paying them. This adds another level of stress to a complicated situation.

People who opt to fight misdemeanor charges may feel like they’re fighting an uphill battle. Working with an attorney who is familiar with this court system is beneficial since they can help you to determine what options you have. Exploring the possibilities with an open mind and a clear understanding of your case’s strengths and weaknesses can help you make the best decision for your situation.

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John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.