What is a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a criminal offense. The worst sentence that you can get is a maximum of 364 days in the county correctional facility, fines up to $2,500 or any combination of both.
The lightest sentence that may be imposed is a term of court supervision, usually with a fine. If you meet the terms of the court supervision the offense will not show up as a conviction on your record.
Could I be sentenced to jail?
There is always a chance of being sentenced to jail, but usually most sentences do not include jail. The court makes its decision based on the facts and nature of the offense, your driving record and any criminal background.
All types of sentences may include requirements to participate in the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP) or community service. If you cannot pay a fine then SWAP or community service may satisfy payment of fines.
In some cases, there may be aggravating factors that require the judge to impose time in jail, SWAP or community service as part of the sentence. "Aggravating factors" are things specific to your case which make it more serious, for example if there was an accident or if a child was in the car. These sentencing requirements are set forth in the governing statutes that apply to your case. Click on the title below to learn more about the possible sentences:
Is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) a misdemeanor?
A DUI is usually a misdemeanor, but depending on aggravating facts of your case it may also be charged as a felony. Aggravating facts may include being involved in a bad accident with serious injuries, not having a valid driver’s license or not having car insurance.
Do I need an attorney for a misdemeanor?
Yes. If you cannot afford an attorney because of limited resources, tell the judge and he or she will have you fill out an Affidavit regarding your assets and liabilities. The judge will examine the affidavit, and if you qualify he or she will appoint a lawyer from the public defender’s office to represent you. Remember, you must meet the federal guidelines in order to have a lawyer from the public defender’s office appointed to represent you.
If you do not qualify for a public defender then you should hire a private lawyer. You do not have to get a lawyer to go to court with you, but handling the case on your own would be very complicated and there can be very serious results. It is always best to hire a lawyer to represent you.
Can I erase a misdemeanor from my criminal record?
Erasing a criminal record is called an expungement. If you get a sentence of supervision you may be able to expunge your record.
Driving under the influence (DUI) matters cannot be expunged. Click on the title below to learn more about expunging your record: