A misdemeanor is a type of criminal offense that is considered less severe than a felony offense. While the specifics vary from one jurisdiction to another, misdemeanors often involve crimes for which the maximum punishment includes jail time up to one year.
As a defendant, having an understanding of the classifications of crimes and their respective penalties is critical for navigating your legal journey.
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Classes of Misdemeanors in Indiana
Misdemeanors fall under three categories: Class A, Class B, and Class C – with each class dictating the potential severity of associated penalties.
Class A Misdemeanors
Class A misdemeanors are considered the gravest type among misdemeanor offenses. Should a Level 6 felony – the lowest severity of felony charges – meet certain conditions, it may actually be reduced to this level of a misdemeanor charge.
In terms of consequences, Class A misdemeanors carry significant penalties – up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
Class B Misdemeanors
Class B misdemeanors sit in the middle of the spectrum; not as serious as Class A, but more so than Class C.
Convictions at this level can be penalized with a jail sentence of up to 6 months and fines reaching $1,000. These charges should still be taken seriously due to their potential impact on your future and freedom.
Examples can include criminal mischief, battery, possession of marijuana, and harassment.
Class C Misdemeanors
Class C misdemeanors, while being categorized as the least serious, can still result in significant penalties, including up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Examples of Class C misdemeanors can include first-offense DUIs where your BAC is under .15%, indecent exposure, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
In any circumstance where you’re charged with a misdemeanor, hiring a criminal defense attorney is essential; this could potentially help you avoid jail time and lessen other consequences for you.
Collateral Consequences of Misdemeanor Convictions
While misdemeanors may seem less significant than felonies, they should not be trivialized. A conviction can result in more than just criminal penalties; there are also various collateral consequences that could significantly affect your life.
Among the most impactful collateral repercussions are those associated with employment. Most employers conduct background checks, and a misdemeanor conviction can result in unfavorable outcomes, such as difficulty securing new employment or promotions due to having a criminal record.
A misdemeanor conviction can complicate your housing situation. Landlords often perform background checks as well and may think twice about renting to you if they find a criminal history.
Impact on Professional Licenses
Certain professions require licenses or certifications, and applicants are expected to meet a set of standards. These may include moral characteristics – often evaluated through your criminal history. A misdemeanor conviction could adversely affect your ability to either achieve or retain such professional accreditations.
If you’re not a U.S. citizen, having a misdemeanor conviction on your record could lead to serious immigration issues. Depending on the specific crime, consequences can include difficulty becoming a citizen all the way up to facing potential deportation.
Personal Relationships and Reputation
Finally, misdemeanors can negatively impact your personal relationships and overall reputation within your community. The social stigma attached to these convictions can strain familial and platonic relationships, along with affecting how others perceive you in a professional or societal setting.
It’s advisable to always consult with a knowledgeable attorney who understands the gravity of these offenses.
Common Legal Defenses to Misdemeanor Charges
When faced with misdemeanor charges, certain defenses can be applied depending on the individual circumstances of your case.
If you’re charged with a crime of harm or violence, arguing self-defense might be an option. You would need to demonstrate that your actions were necessary because you reasonably believed you were facing imminent harm or death, and that any force you used to defend yourself was proportionate to the danger you were facing.
Not Under the Influence
In cases such as DUI or other alcohol or drug-related offenses (like public intoxication), you might argue that you were simply not under the influence of any substance at the time of arrest. Having toxicology reports and witness testimonies may turn out to be essential in this process.
No Possession or Constructive Possession
If you’re charged with possession of illegal substances, your defense could be built around not having actual or constructive possession of those items. For example, if the drugs were found in a room you share with another person, you can argue that they weren’t yours and you didn’t know they were there.
Another strong way to contend criminal charges is by presenting an alibi – proof that you were somewhere else when the alleged offense took place. This assertion removes the possibility that you could have committed the crime.
Compiling evidence that corroborates your alibi — such as surveillance footage, electronic transactions, or reputable witness statements — can significantly strengthen your defense against a misdemeanor charge.
An Experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Every case is different, and the specific defense raised will depend on the facts surrounding your charges. If you’re facing misdemeanor charges and need help with a defense, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer.
Contact the Indianapolis Suhre & Associates, LLC Criminal Defense Attorneys For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Indianapolis
101 W Ohio St #2000
Indianapolis, In 46204