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What is a petty misdemeanor?

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A misdemeanor is defined as any crime that punishable by no more than one year in jail and a fine. While a misdemeanor record does not include the severe punishments of a felony conviction, a petty misdemeanor conviction can be just as damaging to your life as a felony conviction. A misdemeanor on your record, even as a juvenile, can keep you from being accepted to certain universities or graduate programs; lead to denial of employment and prevent you from obtaining or maintaining a professional license or certification. Doctors, lawyers, certified public accountants and other professions require state licenses in order to practice.

A criminal defense attorney can be critical in getting petty misdemeanor charges reduced or dropped completely. He can also help reduce your punishment to minimize jail time and give you an opportunity to eventually clear your misdemeanor record.

Repeat offenders who already have a criminal record, even if that record is only misdemeanors, face a strong likelihood of incarceration after another arrest. In some cases, misdemeanor offenses can even be upgraded to felonies with people who already have numerous misdemeanor convictions. First-time offenders, especially non-violent offenders, will often have the opportunity to have their misdemeanor record cleared upon completing court-ordered sanctions.

Common penalties for a misdemeanor conviction, along with monetary fines, include probation, community service and diversionary programs. Probation is a temporary suspension of a criminal conviction that gives the offender freedom with the promise of good behavior and an agreement to accept supervision and certain restrictions. A community service sentence requires that the offender complete a set number of hours of work for the betterment of the community as a whole. This must be monitored and approved by a reputable service organization. Diversionary programs can include mandatory psychiatric counseling or anger management courses. Successful completion of the terms of the probation, community service or diversionary programs can get a misdemeanor record cleared, but failure to meet the terms can result in additional punishment and keeping the criminal record intact.

Having a misdemeanor record can be a major difficulty, but in most cases it can be repaired. Having a criminal defense attorney as your advocate can help you reduce your punishment and get petty misdemeanor charges off your record.

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