If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, please connect with an experienced Criminal Lawyer, Oakland, CA residents trust. Being charged with a misdemeanor can be frightening and stressful, leaving you worried about your legal rights. Once you have been notified of a charge, it is recommended that you take action to speak to a lawyer and obtain guidance. It is a common assumption that misdemeanors result in only minor consequences. Don’t be fooled by those who would have you believe that because you’ve “only” been charged with a misdemeanor that you don’t need to seek personalized legal guidance.
By legal definition, misdemeanors are crimes that aren’t punishable by more than one year in jail. Simply because misdemeanors are lesser crimes than felonies are doesn’t mean that convictions of said offenses aren’t consequential. They can still result in severe penalties. Failing to fight a misdemeanor charge with a vigorous criminal defense could have consequences that will affect you for your whole life long. If you haven’t yet connected with the experienced California legal team at The Hallinan Law Firm, please do so now. Some effort today could save you years of frustration, financial consequences, practical challenges, and regret. Let our passionate Oakland, CA Criminal Lawyer team help you build the strongest possible defense to the misdemeanor charges you’re currently facing.
Misdemeanors in California
The consequences of a misdemeanor vary according to the violation. Common examples of a misdemeanor include Drug Possession, DUIs, Public Intoxication, or Theft. However, a prosecutor has the discretion of classifying certain crimes as a misdemeanor or felony, such as fraud or domestic violence. Typically the punishment for a standard misdemeanor is roughly 6 months in jail and a fine that may be up to $1,000. A more serious misdemeanor is known as an aggravated misdemeanor, which can include a punishment of up to 364 days in jail.
Though they do not carry as harsh consequences as a felony, a person charged with a misdemeanor in California may still have to face serious consequences that can affect them for a long time. Individuals convicted of misdemeanors often have to serve probation and other penalties.
Do I Need Representation if I’ve Only Been Charged with a Misdemeanor?
As noted above, a misdemeanor is a crime that cannot result in a jail sentence that exceeds one year. However, a misdemeanor conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to one year, in addition to fines, mandatory community service requirements, the loss of your driver’s license, mandatory counseling/anger management/rehabilitation services, a period of probation, etc. Each of these consequences can be life-altering for a time. It can affect your life in multiple ways. For example, a misdemeanor on your record can make it more difficult for you to apply for a job. However, arguably the most consequential effect of a misdemeanor conviction is an entry on your criminal record. If you don’t yet have a criminal record, you’ll have one post-conviction. If you already have a criminal record, that record will become longer. Depending on what you’ve already been convicted of, your misdemeanor charges could be enhanced to felony charges. In short, a misdemeanor conviction is a reality that you’ll want to avoid, if at all possible.
Thankfully, you don’t have to build a criminal defense case alone. There are legal resources available to those who are facing a misdemeanor charge. Our firm is proud to represent those facing criminal charges, partially because we know that not everyone is guilty of what they’ve been accused of and partially because we know that everyone makes mistakes. Regardless of whether you’re guilty or not, you deserve to have the best possible defense constructed on your behalf. Our legal team will be an advocate for your rights and guide you through every aspect of your case. However, you have to take the initiative to seek legal services so that we are informed of your situation. If you haven’t yet alerted our firm to the fact that you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, please do so now. The earlier you can speak to a lawyer about your charge, the more we can do to prepare a solid case and provide you the help you need. If you wait too long to get advice from a lawyer, they may not be able to put together an argument on your behalf. We need as much time as we possibly can to build a solid defense for your benefit.
DUIs are some of the most common charges levied against individuals. If you have been charged with a DUI crime, you may be wondering what your options are. Fortunately, going to a criminal lawyer for assistance can result in your charge being reduced or even dropped. Talk to a lawyer today about your situation so that they can develop a strategy for building the best possible defense.
Is It Possible to Successfully Defend Against a DUI Charge?
When you noticed the flashing lights in your rearview mirror, your stomach likely dropped perceptibly. Even if you had done absolutely nothing illegal, there was still likely a palpable drop in the pit of your stomach. Why? No one likes having run-ins with law enforcement officials, whether the targets of those run-ins are guilty or innocent. It is important to know that if you were charged with driving while impaired or driving while under the influence as a result of your traffic stop that there may be ways to successfully defend against the charges you’re facing. Don’t allow the helplessness you have felt since you saw those flashing lights keep you from mounting a potentially successful defense with our assistance. In many cases, people charged with a crime make the mistake of seeking legal advice too late or not seeking it all. The wise decision would be to talk to a lawyer about your rights right away and discuss strategies you can use for building a good defense.
Depending on the nature of your circumstances, we may be able to challenge the validity of the stop, the accuracy of any testing you submitted to, and a host of other procedural issues. One of the first things that a Criminal Lawyer will do is look at the basis of the charge and search for any weaknesses. For example, sometimes a charge can be invalidated because of an officer’s inexperience or failure to administer a test properly. Even if you were driving while impaired, it is possible – depending on your unique circumstances – that we may be able to successfully defend against the charges you’re facing. We may be able to reduce the charge, such as altering a misdemeanor to an infraction.
Potential Consequences of a DUI Conviction
It is important to aggressively defend against a conviction in a DUI or DWI case because the potential consequences of a conviction can be life-altering. A conviction may result in the suspension or loss of your license, imprisonment, fines, mandatory rehabilitation and/or safe driving courses, community service, probation, etc. Additionally, you’ll face either a new criminal record or new entries on your existing criminal record, which may ultimately inhibit your ability to secure employment, housing, higher education, etc. These consequences are best avoided when possible and best mitigated if they can’t be avoided completely.
Acting Quickly Is Critical
If you are hoping to successfully defend against an impaired driving charge, it is critical that you act quickly. If you haven’t yet reached out to the experienced Northern California legal team at The Hallinan Law Firm, please do so now. The sooner we’re alerted to your situation, the sooner we can begin protecting your rights and building the strongest possible impaired driving defense on your behalf. It is important to talk to a lawyer so they can provide more context regarding your situation. All too often, those who have been pulled over and charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, illicit substances, or other substances with the capacity to muddle one’s ability to operate a vehicle safely are under the impression that they are simply at the mercy of blood or breath test results. In reality, there are ways to – possibly – defend against such charges successfully, even when blood or breath test results are incriminating.
No attorney can guarantee the results of a particular legal matter. However, when you work with our firm, we can assure you that we will leave “no stone unturned” when constructing the strongest defense that we possibly can on your behalf. That means that even if you can’t avoid a conviction altogether, we’ll be working to mitigate any and all consequences you might be facing as a result of that conviction.
Field Sobriety Tests
Many people who have been pulled over by police on suspicion of drunk driving are unsure just what the law requires of them to consent to. If a driver refuses to consent to a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer, then there is an automatic loss of license under California’s implied consent law. The implied consent law is an “agreement” between the driver and the state that for the privilege of receiving a driver’s license, the driver agrees to consent to chemical testing to determine blood alcohol content if they are arrested.
However, there are field sobriety tests that an officer may request a driver take that a driver can refuse to do, whether they have been arrested or not, and there are no legal consequences for doing so like there is for refusing chemical testing. It is important for all drivers to know what their rights are in the event they are stopped on suspicion of drunk driving.
The three tests used by law enforcement are:
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN): For this test, the driver is asked to slowly follow a stimulus with their eyes, while the officer moves that stimulus up and down and side to side. The most common stimuli officers use for this test are a flashlight or the tip of a pencil.
- Walk-and-turn: This test measures the driver’s ability to follow verbal commands and directions. The driver is asked to take nine steps, along a straight line, heel-to-toe. Then the driver must turn on one foot and take nine steps back in the opposite direction.
- One-leg stand: This test measures the driver’s ability to balance, speak clearly, and count. The driver is asked to stand with one foot raised about six inches away from the ground while they are count out loud, beginning at the number 1,001 and counting upwards.
Even a driver who has had no alcohol should refuse to take these tests because of how subjective the results of the tests are. There are a number of issues that could cause a perfectly sober driver to fail one of these tests. For example, a person who has an inner ear issue may also have difficulties with balance. A person who has a chronic health issue, may not be able to physically do some of the things the officer is requesting in these tests. There are also drivers who may have speech or other cognitive issues that could lead an officer to believe they are under the influence. And there are drivers who may be so nervous about being stopped, that their anxiety interferes with them being able to understand the directions the officer is giving them.
Drug Convictions and Student Aid
No matter what the crime you are charged with, it is always important to have an Oakland, CA Criminal Lawyer aggressively defending you. A guilty conviction can have a significant impact on your future. One stark example of this is a drug conviction. Not only can a drug conviction affect future employment opportunities, but it can have major consequences on your ability to obtain an education to begin that profession. A person who has a drug conviction is ineligible to receive any federal grants or loans through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program. The length of time you are ineligible for depends on the number of convictions you have.
If a person has been convicted of drug possession, and it is their first offense, they will be unable to apply for any financial aid through the FAFSA program for one year. If the person has been convicted for selling drugs, and it is their first offense, they will be unable to apply for any financial aid through the FAFSA program for two years.
A second offense brings with it harsher penalties in the criminal justice system, as well as when it comes to applying for financial aid. If a person has a second offense drug possession conviction, they will be ineligible for FAFSA financial aid for two years. A second conviction for selling illegal drugs makes a person ineligible for any aid unless their conviction is overturned or legally ruled to be invalid.
A conviction for a third offense drug possession charge also leaves a person ineligible for any future financial aid through the FAFSA program unless the conviction is overturned or legally ruled to be invalid.
What Happens if Convictions Are Not Dismissed or Overturned?
A Criminal Lawyer in Oakland, CA knows that in the event a person’s conviction will not be dismissed or overturned, there is still a possibility that their FAFSA ineligibility status may be waived. If the person completes a recognized drug rehabilitation program and passes two subsequent unannounced drug tests, they will have their ineligibility status lifted and can then apply for financial aid.
Keep in mind that the FAFSA program has stringent requirements as to what the qualifications are for a recognized drug rehabilitation program. Your Oakland, CA Criminal Lawyer can help navigate you through this issue should it become necessary. Having the right attorney defending you at the beginning, when you are first charged, can help avoid this situation. Your attorney may be able to have the charges dismissed before the case even goes to trial or work out a plea arrangement with the prosecutor for a lesser charge, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you’re concerned about committing to legal representation through our firm, please know that consultations are confidential and risk-free. If our team isn’t the “right fit” for your needs, you’ll incur no obligation from meeting with us in a consultation setting. You have nothing to lose and potentially much to gain by exploring your options at this time. Please call The Hallinan Law Firm now – our Oakland, CA Criminal Lawyer team looks forward to assisting you.