Do I Need a Lawyer for a Misdemeanor?
The Meaning of Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a crime that is considered less serious than a felony, and therefore is typically punished less severely than a felony. They are tried in lower courts, and if any jail time must be served, it is served in a city or county jail rather than a prison. Misdemeanors can have multiple levels of seriousness, determined by varying factors.
What Constitutes a Misdemeanor in Nebraska?
There are seven classes of misdemeanors in Nebraska, including:
- Class V misdemeanors: These crimes have a possible penalty of a fine of up to $100 and no jail time. Some examples include underage tobacco use and blocking entry into or exit from a voting station.
- Class IV misdemeanors: These crimes have a possible penalty of a fine of up to $500 and no jail time. Some examples include second offense possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, minor gambling crimes such as underage participation in the state lottery, harassing a police dog, and small agricultural offenses.
- Class IIIA misdemeanors: These crimes have a possible penalty of a fine of up to $500 and up to 7 days in jail. Some examples include third-time marijuana possession of one ounce or less and repeatedly owning a dangerous dog.
- Class III misdemeanors: These crimes have a possible penalty of a fine of up to $500 and up to 3 months in jail. Some examples include marijuana possession (if the amount in question is less than 1 lb, but greater than 1 oz), theft resulting in losses of $200 or less, first-time reckless driving offenses, and any other crime that merits $500 in fines or less and 3 months or less in jail.
- Class II misdemeanors: These crimes have a possible penalty of a fine up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. Some examples include, trespassing, writing checks for up $200 without sufficient funds, and hazing.
- Class I misdemeanors: These crimes have a possible penalty of a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 1 year in jail. Some examples include possession of marijuana in a quantity greater than 1 oz but less than 1 lb, third-degree assault, third-degree domestic assault (first offense), impersonation of a police officer, and identity theft resulting in losses of $200 or less.
- Class W misdemeanors: These criminal charges are associated with DUIs. These crimes have a possible penalty of a fine of $500 – $1000, and jail time of 60 days to 1 year. First offense, second offense, and third offense are all class W misdemeanors.
Additional Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction
In addition to fines, jail time, and an official criminal record, being convicted of a misdemeanor may cause additional problems for you, such as:
- Loss of professional licenses
- Restriction or loss of a driver’s license
- Revoked Second Amendment rights
- Deportation, regardless of your immigration status
- Difficulty getting new or better jobs
- Reduced earning potential
- Inability to access public housing benefits
- Inability to continue working in professions that require a commercial driver’s license
- Increased auto insurance premiums
- Increased likelihood of more severe punishment for subsequent criminal convictions
Do I Really Need an Attorney for a Misdemeanor Charge?
Regardless of how bad things appear, there is a presumption of innocence until you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the State. Having an experienced criminal lawyer can help you maintain your rights throughout the trial and make certain you get the best outcome for your case.
Many people maintain the mindset that conviction for “just a misdemeanor” does not matter to one’s record and/or future. This is a dangerous thought that can hurt your future dramatically. A criminal conviction for a misdemeanor can impact a person for their entire life.
Fighting misdemeanor charges is generally the best course of action, given the long-term personal, financial, and professional toll brought on by conviction. Without the help of an effective, trustworthy criminal defense attorney, it is virtually impossible for an accused person to prevent a conviction, or to persuade the court to hand down a reduced sentence.
An attorney may also aid you in having a misdemeanor conviction set aside or obtaining a pardon for the conviction. Although in neither case will the conviction be completely off your record, you may regain the certain rights or privileges you lost due to the conviction. It is a difficult process to face alone, and a lawyer can help you navigate the laws of your state and advise you on the steps you should take.
We Serve People Facing Misdemeanor Charges in Nebraska
At Berry Law, we represent people facing criminal charges of all kinds, including misdemeanors. Our clients are important to us, and we have what it takes to represent you, advise you, and help you safeguard your future by presenting a strong defense on your behalf. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, connect with a member of our team as soon as possible to schedule a confidential case review.