3 Common Misconceptions About Misdemeanors

Most people are aware that criminal charges are generally classified as either misdemeanors or felonies (or potentially as infractions for minor violations like speeding). However, far too many people are grossly misinformed about the difference between these two key crime classifications. Everyone knows felonies are bad, but this common knowledge oftentimes causes people to make false assumptions or spread inaccuracies about the alternate and admittedly lesser charge of misdemeanors.

Just because a misdemeanor is a lesser charge than a felony does not mean being charged with one isn’t a big deal or that it should somehow be taken less seriously. Being charged with a misdemeanor is a very serious issue, and being convicted one could have a lasting negative impact on your life. You need to understand the truth about this crime classification and act accordingly if you are ever charged with one. Below we have outlined three of the most common misconceptions about misdemeanors.

  1.       Misdemeanors Are Minor Crimes With Minor Punishments

As previously mentioned, misdemeanors are lesser offenses relative to felonies, but that doesn’t mean that they’re “minor.” In Utah there are three classifications of misdemeanors (A, B, and C), with the most serious of these (Class A) being punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. That means misdemeanors carry the potential for some very serious ramifications. Additionally, the long-term impact of having a misdemeanor on your criminal record can be devastating for your job prospects and your ability to get housing, loans, and engage in other essential day-to-day aspects of your life that many of us take for granted.

  1.       You Can’t Get Jail Time from a Misdemeanor

As explained in our first point above, you most certainly can go to jail for a misdemeanor in Utah and in most other states as well. By definition, a felony is any charge that puts you in prison for more than a year, meaning that a misdemeanor can put you in prison for any amount of time that’s less than a year. Class A misdemeanors carry a maximum jail sentence of one year, Class B allows up to 6 months in jail, and Class C can land you in jail for up to 90 days.

  1.       Misdemeanors Don’t Show Up On Background Checks

Again, a lot of people simply don’t believe misdemeanors are a big deal. Because of that myth, a lot of people don’t think misdemeanors show up on background checks. But in most cases, it absolutely will. If you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor, then you officially have a criminal record. And even if you were just convicted of a Class C public intoxication misdemeanor without having to serve any jail time, when a prospective employer is choosing between you and another candidate, and you have a criminal record while the other candidate doesn’t, who do you think the employer is going to hire?

A misdemeanor conviction, no matter how insignificant you think it may be, can truly haunt you for the rest of your life. No matter what level of misdemeanor you are charged with, it is essential that you take it seriously and do everything you can to fight back against the charges. The first step in doing so is hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney to guide you and protect your best interests. Contact the law office of Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins today to learn how we can help.

Written by Arnold Wadsworth Coggins

Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins Attorneys is a premier Utah law firm serving the Wasatch Front in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, criminal law, and civil litigation. Our attorneys provide clients with exceptional legal representation and personal attention. With over 35 years of trial practice and litigation experience, we bring big firm expertise at affordable rates