Suffolk County Misdemeanor Defense Attorney
Being arrested for any crime in Suffolk County can be a frightening, confusing experience, and although misdemeanors carry lighter sentences than felony convictions, it is nonetheless crucial to take a misdemeanor charge seriously. These charges, divided into Class A and Class B Misdemeanors, could land you in jail and impose havoc on your professional, social, and family life. In the long term, having a criminal record showing misdemeanor convictions detrimentally affects your ability to find a good job or take out a loan, and if convicted of a future crime, the sentencing can be significantly harsher.
You will need a staunch criminal defense attorney in your corner to fully represent your case to the judge and jury and to ensure any misdemeanor you may have committed does not get escalated to a felony offense by an overly-zealous prosecution. I have over 20 years of experience defending all types of misdemeanor offenses, from simple indecent exposure to borderline-felony assault cases.
Differences Between Violations, Misdemeanors, and Felonies
The first thing to note when convicted of a misdemeanor is that these crimes aren’t as heavy as a felony. If convicted of a felony, you may be facing anywhere from a year to life in prison; however, the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is only up to one year in the county jail and no more than $1,000 in fines. Sometimes, the fines will equal to double the monetary amount received in the crime, such as with theft.
Violations are the lowest and least serious offenses, and note that violations are not “crimes.” A maximum sentence cannot exceed 15 days in jail and an offense doesn’t create a criminal record. Violations can include everything from disorderly conduct to unlawful possession of marijuana, and violations do not include traffic infractions.
Classes of Misdemeanors in Suffolk County
Similar to felonies, there are different classes of misdemeanors according to New York Penal Law. This includes both Class A misdemeanors and Class B misdemeanors, the former including the more serious crimes. A simple way to differentiate the two is to look at the types of crimes involved with Class A and Class B as well as the differences in sentencing.
For example, Class A misdemeanors can result in sentences from no jail time to a maximum of 12 months, maximum fines no more than $1,000, mandatory state charges, up to three years of probation, conditional discharges, community service, and potential driver’s license suspension. Some common Class A misdemeanors could include:
- Assault in the third degree
- Scheme to defraud the state by unlawfully selling prescriptions
- Sexual misconduct
- Possession of burglar’s tools
- Making graffiti
- Petit larceny
- Criminal retention of medical marijuana
- Prostitution in a school zone
- Inciting to riot
- Unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree
Class B misdemeanors, on the other hand, can result in sentences from no jail time to a maximum of 90 days, maximum fines no more than $500, mandatory state surcharges, and possible community service. Some common Class B misdemeanors could include:
- Criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree
- False impersonation
- Harassment in the first degree
- Permitting prostitution
- Public lewdness
- Criminal trespass in the third degree
- Criminal sale or possession of marijuana in the fifth degree
- Possession of graffiti instruments
- Reckless endangerment of property
The final degree of misdemeanor in Suffolk is known as “Unclassified,” and unclassified misdemeanors render jail and fines as required by law or ordinance that defines the crime. Some examples of unclassified misdemeanors include aggravated unlicensed driving, driving while intoxicated, and reckless driving.
Criminal Justice Procedures for Misdemeanors
If arrested and charged with a misdemeanor, the most important thing to do is stay calm. Recklessness and perjury (lying) while in custody can result in added crimes. If arrested by Village Police, processing occurs at the Village Police Department while additional processing and detention occurs with the Suffolk County Police. After booking, the defendant remains in custody until appearing before a judge for arraignment, which usually occurs within 24 hours after the arrest.
At the arraignment, charges are brought against the accused and the defendant is informed of a right to counsel. It is at this stage where a defendant can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest, for example. For misdemeanors, defendants who cannot post bail may be held for 5 days following the arraignment. After several pre-trial motions, a defendant pleading not guilty will face trial by six jurors.
The Role of an Attorney in a Misdemeanor Case
An experienced defense attorney works with the accused to develop the strongest possible defense or minimize the sentencing as much as possible. Typically, attorneys investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the arrest and determine if any evidence was obtained in violation of constitutional rights. Also, a well-versed attorney deals with the prosecutors, finds and examines witnesses, and defends the interests of the accused.
If you or a loved one was convicted of a misdemeanor charge, don’t wait and get the legal counsel you need to get through this difficult time. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To set up a free consultation, give us a call today at (631) 472-3779.