Misdemeanors are classified as less serious criminal charges than felonies. They are divided into two categories, first degree misdemeanors and second degree misdemeanors. First degree misdemeanors are the more serious of the two misdemeanors and can, therefore, carry severe consequences and penalties.
If you have been accused of a first degree misdemeanor in the Miami area, you are in need of a Miami criminal defense attorney.
What is a First Degree Misdemeanor?
In Miami, the penalties for first degree or second degree misdemeanors are different, so it is important to understand the consequences you are facing. A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The potential consequences are life-changing, so it’s important that defendants charged with first degree misdemeanors seek legal help.
A second degree misdemeanor can be punished by up to 60 days in jail and an amount up to $500 in fines.
There are many types of crimes that are classified as first degree misdemeanors. These include:
- Simple battery
- Boating under the influence
- Disorderly conduct
- Bad checks that are under $150
- Criminal mischief (anything that causes damage that is greater than $200 but under $1,000)
- DUI or driving under the influence
- Driving with a suspended license
- Indecent exposure
- Loitering & prowling
- Reckless driving
- Possession of marijuana under 20 grams
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Resisting an officer without violence
- Shoplifting under $300
This is not a comprehensive list, just the most common first degree misdemeanors. If you are being accused of any of these crimes, hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Miami will help and should certainly be your next course of action.
Meanwhile, examples of second degree misdemeanors include:
- Simple assault
- Petit theft
- Simple trespass
- Disorderly intoxication
- Harassing phone calls
- Loitering or prowling
- Criminal mischief (damage under $200)
Roles of a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Miami
No matter the severity of your crime, it is crucial that you find a criminal defense lawyer to help you with the steps that follow.
There are many possible defenses that can be used in a Miami misdemeanor case and these depend on the type of crime charged. After we discuss your likelihood of winning with one of the available defenses, we will advise how you should plead to your criminal charges. Our Miami criminal law firm has helped thousands of clients, and we want to help you as well.
Before you even go to court with your lawyer, you will likely ask to consult with them to receive advice as to what the best course of action is. This will include advice on how to plea, demand evidence, and begin preparing your case.
There are many more roles for Miami criminal lawyers too.
Our other job at this stage will be simply to advise on what is going to happen next and what to expect. Many people in this position have never been to court before, and as such, they will be nervous and unsure. Simply telling them what to expect can be highly reassuring and is a valuable job in itself; it’s one more good reason to hire a Miami criminal law firm.
Preparing a Case
Of course, defending someone in court doesn’t just mean showing up on the day – your lawyer also needs to prepare the case, and this means finding evidence and interviewing witnesses. You may also need to practice testifying with your lawyer in anticipation of an upcoming trial. The work you put in at this stage will have a big impact on your success, or failure, on the day of. Your Miami criminal law firm might also need to research nuanced areas of the law that can help your case.
The Court Date
On your court date, you will have to ensure that you get to the hearing on time and suitably dressed etc. Again, this will come down to the advice of your criminal lawyer, in part.
Once you are present with your lawyer before the court, you can relax because your criminal defense lawyer will either do all the talking or the great majority of the talking. You want an attorney that is comfortable speaking in front of an audience and good at reading a jury. This is the part you see on TV, but what you may not realize is just what a lengthy and drawn out process it can be.
After the court date, the job of your criminal defense attorney won’t necessarily be finished. For instance, you may have future court dates, or you may want to expunge your criminal history. A criminal attorney can help you with these next steps and help you prepare for any possible outcome.
In short, being accused of a first degree misdemeanor can be a large ordeal and having a Miami criminal law firm by your side makes all the difference. Get in touch with our office today to learn more.