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Do I Need a Lawyer for a Misdemeanor in Maryland?

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Having misdemeanor charges against you in Maryland is a stressful ordeal, even if the crime you’ve been charged with is relatively minor.

After all, no matter what you’ve been charged with, you face potential fees, jail time, and a mark on your public record that will follow you the rest of your life.

That’s where hiring a misdemeanor attorney comes in handy.

Many people make the decision to represent themselves in the courtroom after being charged with a misdemeanor.  After all, these crimes tend to warrant very little punishment when compared to felony charges.  However, having adequate legal representation plays a major role in the outcome of your case.

If you find yourself facing misdemeanor charges in Maryland, and don’t know what to do, keep reading to find out why hiring a misdemeanor lawyer is always the best place to start.

 

What Happens When You Are Charged with a Misdemeanor?

If you are charged with a misdemeanor in Maryland you are facing some serious trouble, no matter what the charges are.

Typical misdemeanor charges include:

  • Theft
  • Assault and battery
  • Drunk driving
  • Vandalism
  • Trespassing
  • Failure to appear in court
  • Prostitution

 

Though considered a lesser crime, a misdemeanor still comes with the possibility of punishments that can affect your personal life forever.

For instance, you risk having to pay hefty fines and fees, receiving probation, having to take mandatory classes, and even serving up to one year in jail.

The extent of the injury or damage, your prior convictions, weapon use, current probation or parole status, and even your behavior in court can all affect the outcome of your case.

Further, you may find yourself facing civil lawsuits as well, if convicted of a misdemeanor.  For example, if a civil charge is brought on you, you may need to pay for things such as physical injuries, pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost time from work, and emotional injuries that your victim experienced as a result of your criminal wrongdoing.

That’s why it’s important to consider hiring an attorney every time you find yourself in legal trouble.

 

Reasons to Hire a Misdemeanor Lawyer in Maryland

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1. Self-Representation

The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees United States citizens the right to an attorney in any criminal case.  This attorney is there to represent you in the courtroom, assist you in your defense, and help the proceedings move forward without delay. Your right to an attorney is also guaranteed regardless of whether you can pay for their services.

The problem with not hiring an attorney to represent you in your misdemeanor proceedings is that if the court finds you unable to represent yourself properly, because you lack the right skills and understanding, the court will require you to seek the aid of a public defender.

This attorney, though well-versed in the law, may not have the specialty knowledge required to give you the best defense possible.

And if you do end up representing yourself, remember, the judge and court clerks are not allowed to give you any legal advice.  So, if you find yourself not understanding something, or needing help making a decision that may affect you for the rest of your life, you are on your own.

As a result, you may find yourself facing more fees and/or jail time than if you had hired an experienced Maryland misdemeanor attorney in the first place.

 

2. The Legal Process

Understanding the complex legal process that comes with your misdemeanor proceedings can be confusing for anyone.  There are court motions, orders, pleas, and even trials to deal with depending on your charges.  And if you aren’t careful, you could end up missing important deadlines that can affect the outcome of your case.

Having a misdemeanor lawyer can help prevent mistakes that can negatively affect your defense.  This is even true if you want to plead guilty to your charges.  In fact, the right criminal defense attorney has the power to negotiate a fair punishment so that you can move forward with your life.

 

3. Collateral Consequences

Collateral consequences are a very real part of any criminal case, even if it’s just a misdemeanor.  If you are convicted of a misdemeanor in Maryland, you may find yourself with additional civil penalties that are attached to your criminal conviction and any punishments you receive.

Some of the most common collateral consequences you might find yourself facing include:

  • Loss or restriction of a professional license
  • Ineligibility for public funds such as student loans and welfare benefits
  • Loss of voting rights
  • Ineligibility for jury duty
  • Deportation for immigrants, including those with a permanent resident status
  • Denied entry to Canada
  • Loss of gun rights
  • Ineligibility to join the military

If you are representing yourself in your misdemeanor case, you might not be aware of these collateral consequences.  However, with an attorney by your side to help guide you, you’ll be able to learn which consequences you may be facing and learn about the options you have.

 

4. Trial Proceedings

Going to trial for any type of crime, no matter how small, can be a scary thing.  Especially if the prosecution is the type to use scare tactics to bully the defense into taking a plea deal.  For instance, they might use past conviction proceedings to scare you into thinking your case will end the same way.  Or, they may feel like they don’t have a strong case against you and try to convince you otherwise so you take a plea deal.

However, sometimes going to trial is the best option for you, especially if you feel you are truly innocent.  But even if you are innocent, if you fail to defend yourself properly in court, you could end up with a conviction and a charge that stays on your public record forever.  That’s why enlisting the help of a Maryland misdemeanor attorney to help defend you might be the best option.

Your misdemeanor attorney can help explain potential plea deals, negotiate with prosecutors for better terms, or even defend you to the fullest before the judge should you decide to go to trial.  Not to mention, your attorney is going to know exactly what type of sentencing you’ll face, should you go to trial and actually be convicted.

 

5. Expense

One of the biggest reasons people don’t hire a Maryland misdemeanor lawyer is because getting a lawyer can be expensive.  However, the excessive cost that is usually associated with getting an attorney doesn’t always apply to misdemeanor cases.

A misdemeanor defense doesn’t involve as many motions and court hearings, doesn’t require as much evidence, and doesn’t take nearly as long as defending a high profile felony case.  For this reason, getting the help of a lawyer may not cost as much as you think.

Further, the minimal cost you do invest in a misdemeanor lawyer is sometimes worth the peace of mind that you get in knowing you have the very best defense possible.

If you find yourself facing minor criminal charges, and know that hiring a Maryland misdemeanor lawyer is something you want to do, contact Dilip Paliath, Esq. today.  With an extensive background defending people as a criminal trial lawyer, Dilip can provide solid defenses for any type of criminal charges, including misdemeanors.

No matter how minor your charges may seem, Dilip Paliath, Esq. has the ability to get you the best resolution possible.  He is dedicated to educating you about your case, the options that are available, and the consequences you are facing for each possible outcome.  Don’t let a misdemeanor ruin your life. Get in touch with a knowledgeable misdemeanor attorney like Dilip Paliath, Esq., find a resolution, and move forward knowing your misdemeanor is now a thing of the past.

Dilip Paliath, Esq.

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