Are Misdemeanors Serious?
Despite not carrying the same severe punishments as felonies, misdemeanors are a serious issue. Having any criminal record, even a record with only a single misdemeanor, can be a major hindrance in other aspects of your life. Any criminal record, including a juvenile misdemeanor record, can prevent you from being accepted into certain universities. High school kids who pull what they consider to be a harmless prank can face harsh repercussions if that prank rises to the level of criminal mischief. Something like that is enough to keep an otherwise good college applicant from gaining admission to either an undergraduate school or a graduate program.
Misdemeanors can also lead to the loss of a state-issued professional license, especially if the crime is in any way related to the profession. Doctors, lawyers and certified public accountants all need to earn and maintain licenses to practice. Being convicted of some sort of fraud or other minor crime related to their profession can result in having that license suspended or revoked, preventing the offender from earning a living in his chosen field. Taxi drivers, truck drivers and people who operate highly specialized construction equipment also need state licenses or certification. A conviction for driving while intoxicated or for minor drug possession could cause a driver or a heavy machinery operator to lose his certification.
A misdemeanor conviction may not result in having your freedom completely taken away with incarceration, but it can result in probation, restricting your freedom. Possible conditions of probation can include a curfew, abstaining from alcohol, submitting to random drug tests and other restrictions. Another possibility of a misdemeanor conviction is community service, which can cost hundreds of hours of your time.
Most misdemeanors also carry fairly significant financial penalties as well. Fines can range as high as $4,000 in some rare instances. Probation also brings a financial burden with it, in the form of probation fees. These are sometimes one-time fees with the cost being based on the length of the probation, or the fees can be assessed monthly. Any conviction, regardless of how severe the crime is, can be a serious and life-altering issue. Be sure to contact a criminal defense attorney to make sure your rights are protected.