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Defending Against Charges: Why You Need a Misdemeanor Attorney

Defending Against Charges: Why You Need a Misdemeanor Attorney

What are misdemeanors and felonies in North Dakota? How can a misdemeanor attorney help you if you’ve been charged with a crime? Here’s what you need to know.

Misdemeanor cases make up more than 80% of criminal cases in the US. That equates to around 10 million people being charged with a misdemeanor annually. Are you one of them?

Misdemeanors are relatively common. And as criminal charges go, they are not the most severe. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that you don’t need to hire a misdemeanor attorney.

Without a legal expert on your side, you could have to serve jail time. But that’s not the only potential consequence of a misdemeanor conviction. Read on for more reasons why you need to call a lawyer ASAP.

What Is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a class of criminal offenses that are more serious than a traffic ticket but not as severe as a felony. In North Dakota, these crimes are categorized into three classes.

Misdemeanors come with a maximum penalty of one year in prison and/or a $3,000 fine. At a minimum, a misdemeanor conviction will earn you a $1,000 fine in North Dakota.

Many different types of charges count as misdemeanors in North Dakota. Learn more about them below.

Misdemeanors vs. Felonies

The biggest difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in North Dakota is the severity of the crime. Felonies are more severe crimes, which come with harsher penalties if you receive a conviction.

Misdemeanors and felonies are often charged for the same type of crime. However, when someone has multiple misdemeanor convictions for the same crime, or there are aggravating factors, it may become a felony.

Misdemeanor Classes

Many states in the US have four to five levels of misdemeanors. In North Dakota, there are only two classes of misdemeanors: Class A and Class B. Infractions can also become misdemeanors in certain cases.

Class A is the most serious misdemeanor. A conviction may earn you up to a year in prison and/or a $3,000 fine. An example of a Class A misdemeanor in North Dakota is possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

Class B is the least serious misdemeanor. A conviction comes with up to 30 days in prison and/or a $1,5000 fine. Disorderly conduct is an example of a type of Class B misdemeanor in North Dakota.

Infractions are minor crimes that are less serious than misdemeanors, such as selling tobacco to a minor. The punishment for a conviction is a $1,000 fine. But earning two infractions within a year bumps the charge up to a Class B misdemeanor.

Types of Misdemeanor Crimes

Many different types of crimes count as misdemeanors in North Dakota. They include but are not limited to the following:

  • Vandalism
  • Assault and battery
  • Arson
  • Larceny
  • Theft
  • Trespassing
  • DUIs and DWIs
  • Drug charges

These charges can be bumped up to a felony. For example, committing theft or assault with a firearm increases the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony in North Dakota.

Additionally, some misdemeanors may be bumped up to a felony charge if you have prior offenses. For example, stalking is a Class A misdemeanor but can be convicted as a Class C felony if you have a prior stalking charge against the same victim.

Misdemeanor Punishments

Getting a misdemeanor conviction may mean you must pay thousands of dollars in fines and/or do jail time.

Class A misdemeanors come with a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail, a $3,000 fine, or both. Class B misdemeanors have a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

Infractions come with a maximum fine of $1,000. However, if your infraction is bumped up to a Class B misdemeanor, you may have to spend up to 30 days in jail.

Why Hire a Misdemeanor Attorney?

You should hire a misdemeanor attorney if you need to fight a first-time or repeat charge or get a conviction expunged from your record. Here’s why.

Misdemeanors Can Earn You Jail Time

You may think a misdemeanor is no big deal. But even the most minor class of misdemeanor can earn you up to 30 days in jail.

With a seasoned criminal defense lawyer on your side, you can fight for a minimal sentence. In many cases, your attorney can ensure you do not get any jail time at all.

Your attorney may even be able to get you off of the charge altogether. Criminal defense attorneys are well-versed in the arguments and pieces of evidence that can force the judge to throw out your charge.

Repeat Misdemeanors Can Become Felonies

Having one misdemeanor may not seem like the end of the world to you. But consider this: in North Dakota, having a prior misdemeanor conviction when you commit a second offense can enhance the charge to a felony.

Felony charges are the most serious criminal offenses you can incur. They come in three classes and have a minimum punishment of up to $10,000 in fines and/or a two- to five-year prison sentence.

Hiring an attorney to get your charge dismissed or expunging a prior charge can prevent repeat misdemeanors from becoming a felony.

Unexpunged Misdemeanors Can Impact Your Life

Expungement is the process of getting a misdemeanor deleted from your criminal record. In North Dakota, there are limited circumstances in which you can get past convictions expunged from your record.

For example, if you have a first-time misdemeanor conviction for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, you can get your conviction expunged.

Drug charges that remain on your record can significantly impact your life. Your job prospects may be limited, or you might not be able to apply to certain degree programs. An attorney can help ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

Heartland Law Office Will Fight for Your Rights

Misdemeanors are less severe crimes than felonies, but that does not mean you shouldn’t take them seriously. One conviction can earn you jail time and racking up two can result in a felony charge.

Do you need a misdemeanor attorney to help you fight a charge in North Dakota? Heartland Law Office in Bismark, ND is a BBB-accredited law firm offering convenient virtual consultations so you can get advice now.

Request a case evaluation to get started.