People in Georgia and across the country often underestimate the seriousness of misdemeanors. It is not uncommon to hear people talking about misdemeanors in the same way they talk about white lies. A crime is a crime, and if found guilty, consequences might affect many aspects of the person’s future. For that reason, no charge is insignificant enough to deal with without a criminal defense attorney to protect the legal rights of the accused person.
Those who are found guilty of misdemeanors learn that the seriousness of the crime is significant when they receive hefty fines, jail time, community service and/or probation. Moreover, if they fail to comply with even one of the court-ordered conditions, more significant sentences might follow. The maximum jail time for a misdemeanor is 12 months.
The severity of the crime is what distinguishes a misdemeanor from a felony. Slapping someone is a misdemeanor, but using a baseball bat instead will change it into aggravated assault, which is a felony. The line between a misdemeanor and a felony is very thin. For example, a person found with marijuana in his or her possession will be charged with a misdemeanor if it is less than an ounce, but with a felony for possession with intent to distribute if it is over than amount.
DUI charges are another example. The first arrest for drunk driving will likely be a misdemeanor — if the driver did not cause injuries or death, which will turn it into a felony. Anyone in Georgia who faces a misdemeanor charge will want to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to do whatever is reasonably possible to vigorously contest the charges, or limit the consequences of a conviction if the client is found guilty.