What Are the Consequences of a Misdemeanor?
Many people don’t fully understand the consequences of a misdemeanor. A conviction for a misdemeanor – especially a violent or drug-related misdemeanor – can carry serious penalties and deeply impact your life. If you’re facing criminal charges, you should immediately consult with an Albuquerque criminal defense lawyer.
What Is a Misdemeanor?
New Mexico categorizes crimes by their severity. Felonies are the most serious crimes and have the heaviest penalties. A misdemeanor is one step below a felony and can involve a wide variety of crimes and sentences. For example, you can be charged with misdemeanor:
- Assault and battery,
- Domestic violence,
- Larceny and theft,
- Prostitution and solicitation, and
- Resisting arrest.
While each of these crimes carries its own unique penalties, there are some common consequences for a misdemeanor.
Sentences Associated With a Misdemeanor Conviction
A misdemeanor conviction carries significant penalties that impact your freedom and financial welfare. Once you are found guilty, the judge will issue your sentence. Your personal situation will impact your sentence. For example, repeat offenders and violent crimes typically carry heavier sentences. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your conviction, you might face:
- Jail Time: Many misdemeanor convictions carry up to a year of jail time.
- Community Service: The judge can order you to perform extended community service, limiting your job and education options – and taking you away from your family and friends.
- Fines: Your conviction might carry large fines and restitution requirements.
- Classes and counseling: Many misdemeanor sentences involve mandatory classes and counseling services. It can be difficult to balance your work, school, and family obligations with these intense requirements.
While a skilled Albuquerque criminal defense lawyer will try to get you a minimum sentence, this decision is ultimately in the judge’s hands.
Other Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction
In addition to your sentence, a misdemeanor conviction might impact your daily life in other ways. New Mexico’s laws impose limitations on convicted criminals, including:
- Losing Your Right to Own a Firearm: You can’t own a gun if you’re convicted of certain types of misdemeanor drug offenses. You might also lose your right to carry concealed weapons.
- No Public Benefits: A misdemeanor conviction can impact your right to public housing and other benefits. If you’re convicted of a drug or alcohol-related crime, the New Mexico Public Housing Authority does not have to provide you with housing assistance. The government can also cut other benefits, such as Social Security benefits while you’re incarcerated.
- Driver’s License Suspension: You could lose your drivers’ license for more than a year, making it difficult to get to work, school, and take care of your family.
- Employment Problems: If you serve time, or have intense community service requirements, you might lose your job (due to absenteeism). And, once you complete your sentence, it might be hard to find new work. Your conviction will show up in an employer’s background search. Some employers will consider a misdemeanor conviction a “red flag.”
- Losing Your Professional Licenses: A lot of professions, from the trades to law and medicine, require professional licenses. You must report your misdemeanor conviction to your licensing agency – and it might suspend or terminate your license. A conviction might also result in a denied license application if you try to change jobs.
- Monitoring by a Probation Officer: While on probation, an officer will monitor your activities and behaviors. It can be difficult to meet your probation officer’s strict requirements – leading to additional legal issues.
Additionally, a misdemeanor conviction can damage your relationships with loved ones and alter your standing in the community.
Twohig Law Aims to Minimize the Consequences of a Misdemeanor
The consequences of a misdemeanor can be life-changing. If you’re facing misdemeanor or other criminal charges, you should contact an experienced Albuquerque criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. You might have defenses that reduce or eliminate the misdemeanor charges. At Twohig Law Firm, we aggressively defend our clients while delivering practical and compassionate advice to them. Contact us for a free and confidential consultation – either by calling us at 505.431.4549 or completing our easy, online form.