Popular culture has, in many ways, desensitized us to the seriousness of a run in with the law. Police dramas and “reality” cop programs are actually giving viewers a very unrealistic idea of what it means to be charged with a crime. So many times, on TV and in movies, we see our favorite characters breaking the law, but we rarely see them suffering the consequences because they “knew a guy” or “had a friend” that could get them off scot-free.
In real life, however, being charged with a crime is serious and “knowing who to talk to” is an anecdote that may be as likely to get you charged with bribery as it is to help you escape your existing charges. That is not to say that some crimes and charges are not worse than others, but all must be taken seriously, as any of them could effect the lives of you and your family forever.
What is a Misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is the next step up from a general infraction. Infractions are things like traffic tickets or minor drug possession charges, and are often punished by giving the culprit a ticket or fining them. A misdemeanor carries more serious ramifications that are punishable by larger fines, jail time, or a combination of the two.
A wide range of crimes can fall under the misdemeanor label, and different kinds of misdemeanors are organized into different groups depending on the type of crime that was committed:
- General misdemeanors typically include crimes like stalking, disorderly conduct, forgery, resisting arrest, internet crimes, and thefts or “criminal mischief” involving items worth less than $500.
- Driving misdemeanors are handed out when carless driving results in the injury or death of another person.
- Drug misdemeanors are a little more unique in our state. Residents of the state may be charged with a drug misdemeanor if they posses more than one ounce of marijuana but less than eight ounces. Medical marijuana card holders are subject to the same laws, but are able to legally posses two ounces of marijuana and some marijuana plants (as determined by their physician). This type of misdemeanor can also include the possession of any schedule V controlled substance.
- Assault misdemeanors include the crimes of domestic violence, child abuse, and third degree assault.
- Sexual misdemeanors include lesser crimes than their felony counterparts, but still come with registration requirements and lengthy/expensive treatment requirements.
The 3 Classes
In Colorado, misdemeanors are divided into three classes based on the severity of the crime. Each one has the potential to involve jail time and/or fines, as the judge sees fit:
- Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious. These are punishable with anywhere from six to eighteen months in jail and/or with a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000. If a crime is considered to be of extraordinary risk, the maximum jail sentence can be up to twenty-four months in jail.
- Class 2 misdemeanors can be punished with a jail sentence of three to twelve months. Those charged with a class 2 misdemeanor may also be fined in addition to, or instead of jail time, to the tune of $250-$1,000.
- Class 3 are the lesser of the the three evils, but still have the potential to be life changing. Those charged can receive up to six months of jail time or fines ranging from $50 to $750, or a combination of both of these.
The Truth about Misdemeanors
The thing about misdemeanors is they aren’t always as black and white as the above classifications make them seem. Yes, jail time and fines are fairly standard, but differing circumstances mean that certain misdemeanor charges have the potential to be more or less harmful to the accused’s life than others.
For instance, if the crime is on the less severe side, a plea bargain may be reached that allows the accused to avoid jail time in lieu of a lesser punishment, like probation or community service. In the flip side, a misdemeanor that presents “an extraordinary risk of harm to society,” allows the judge to sentence the culprit to an additional six months of jail time on top of that which comes from the misdemeanor’s class ranking.
Facing Misdemeanor Charges?
Misdemeanor charges are serious, and should not be handled in court without the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you’ve been accused of a misdemeanor within the we can help you navigate the intricacies of the court room as your case comes to trial.
In either case, a qualified attorney can make all the difference in the end result of a misdemeanor charge. The attorneys at Wolf Law are ready and willing to help, no matter what your situation is. Let us take matters into our hands; call us today at 720-479-8574 for a free and confidential consultation to assess your legal troubles.