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Misdemeanor Offense: The Court Process

Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

I routinely receive questions from folks about what to expect of the court process when charged with a misdemeanor offense.

While being charged with a misdemeanor crime is not nearly as serious as a felony, it can still effect your day-to-day life. The possibility of jail, fines, a criminal record, probation, etc. can turn life upside down. You must know how to navigate the legal process and obtain the very best outcome possible. Occasionally, that could mean trial. Most other times, cases are resolved through negotiations with the prosecutor or dismissed by a judge pre-trial.

Here are answers to some very common questions:

What is a Misdemeanor?

Misdemeanors are criminal charges that, while not nearly as serious as a felony, can result in fines and jail time.

There are two classifications of misdemeanors. The first is a Gross Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Second is a Simple Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

What Happens After I’m Arrested?

When charged with a misdemeanor you may or may not be arrested and brought to jail at the time of the incident. Between an arrest and being charged, the officer will turn over all reports to the prosecuting attorney who will decide which formal charges will be brought filed. Once the prosecutor has a chance to review the case, they will decide how they will charge the crime, referred to this as the “charging decision”. When reviewing a file for charging, a prosecutor can choose what the officer arrested on, add or remove charges, or not bring any charges if they feel there isn’t enough evidence.

What Happens When I’m Charged With a Misdemeanor?

Most misdemeanors begin with a citation or Notice to Appear which includes a date when you must appear in court. That appearance is called an Arraignment.

What Happens at the Arraignment?

At the arraignment hearing you will appear before a judge in court, notified of the charge(s) against you along with possible fines, jail time, or additional penalties , and then enter a Not Guilty plea. You’ll also be read your rights and any restrictions you must comply with until your case is resolved, including conditions for release from jail.

Watch for more information about the Court Process coming soon.

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