If you’re being accused of a misdemeanor crime, you may not think it’s that big of a deal. The crime itself wasn’t severe, so that means your penalty won’t likely be either. Is that really the case though? In fact, a misdemeanor can almost be worse than a felony today, thanks to the way the court system is designed. A misdemeanor can still influence your life in a few ways, and it’s important to defend yourself to prevent this unfair complication from happening.
While the sentence given to you by the court after a trial may not seem severe, the consequences that happen socially are different and can be unpredictable. Fair punishment may be necessary, but having years of complications from a one-time mistake isn’t fair.
Unlike with felonies, there are fewer ways to remove misdemeanors from your record. Even if you committed the crime many years ago, the black mark on your criminal record can influence many aspects of your life. It can affect your ability to obtain certain housing, access to loans, and certain family rights. Your job could be affected, or you may find it hard to get a job at all.
These consequences are known as collateral consequences, and there are literally hundreds that could affect them. While the government is trying to help prevent people from going to jail, it isn’t addressing the impact of collateral consequences for those with misdemeanors. For some, a presidential pardon would be the only way to expunge a misdemeanor, something that’s unlikely to be available for those committing such minor crimes.
Source: TIME, “A Misdemeanor Conviction Is Not a Big Deal, Right? Think Again,” Maya Rhodan, accessed June 23, 2016