All criminal charges, whether for a misdemeanor or felony offense, are serious. They can result in a prison or jail sentence, fines, the loss of certain rights, and ineligibility for certain opportunities. Thus, no matter what you have been accused of, you need a lawyer to help you through your case.
A defense attorney protects your rights and facilitates a fair and honest justice process. They can also seek remedy for any miscarriage of the law and fight for you inside and outside the courtroom. Regardless of the severity of your alleged offense, it’s crucial that you retain legal services as soon as possible.
All Criminal Charges Are Serious
Utah classifies crimes as misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors include offenses like criminal mischief, theft (less than $1,500), and assault.
They may be penalized as follows:
- Class A misdemeanor:
- Up to 364 days in jail and/or
- Up to $2,500 in fines
- Class B misdemeanor:
- Up to 6 months in jail and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Class C misdemeanor:
- Up to 90 days in jail and/or
- Up to $750 in fines
Felonies consist of crimes such as arson, robbery, and kidnapping.
Their potential conviction penalties include:
- First-degree felony:
- 5 years to life in prison and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Second-degree felony:
- 1 to 15 years in prison and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Third-degree felony:
- No more than 5 years in prison and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines
Between misdemeanors and felonies, the latter are more severe offenses carrying harsher punishments. For that reason, some people might mistakenly believe that they can forgo legal representation for misdemeanors because they are not at the same level as felonies.
However, just because a misdemeanor is not as severe as a felony does not mean it’s not a serious offense and legal representation is not needed. Any alleged crime is serious.
A conviction for any offense carries the potential punishments listed earlier. These sanctions can wreak havoc on your life. Spending time in jail or prison can affect your relationships and career. Paying fines, fees, restitution, and other court-ordered costs can create a substantial financial burden.
And those are just the effects of the immediate criminal penalties a court can impose for a misdemeanor or felony conviction. A mark on your criminal record for any level of offense can hamper your ability to live a productive life after you’ve completed your sentence.
For instance, the following rights can be negatively impacted by a conviction:
- Hold public office
- Possess firearms
- Receive federal benefits
Additionally, you may be barred from or denied employment, immigration, or travel opportunities.
Why You Need a Lawyer for Any Criminal Charge
If you are charged with a crime, you must go through the criminal justice system, regardless of the severity of the offense. Throughout the legal process, you have various rights to facilitate a fair trial and prevent a wrongful conviction.
A criminal defense attorney has a major role in ensuring that these rights are safeguarded and protecting you from unjust treatment. They can review the details of your case to determine whether injustices or errors occurred at any stage. If they identify injustices, they could file motions with the court to address them. For instance, if police officers conducted an unlawful search, your lawyer can seek to have evidence suppressed, which can weaken the prosecutor’s arguments.
In other words, a defense attorney works to keep prosecutors and law enforcement officials honest by being ready to hold them accountable when they’ve overstepped the bounds of their authority.
In addition to protecting your rights, a defense lawyer also:
- Explains your legal options,
- Helps you make informed and confident decisions concerning your case, and
- Prevents you from making missteps that could hurt your case.
An attorney will also review the charges against you and listen to your side of the story to build a tailored defense strategy.
When to Hire a Lawyer
An attorney can assist with your case whether authorities are still investigating or the prosecutor has filed charges. Retain legal counsel as soon as possible. The earlier you have a lawyer on your side, the more time they have to prepare your defense.
Contact Lokken & Putnam, P.C.
Criminal charges of all levels are serious. Thus, whether you have been charged with assault or murder, it’s crucial to have a lawyer represent you.
Schedule a consultation with a member of our Salt Lake City team by contacting us at (801) 829-9783.