A misdemeanor is a crime for which the maximum sentence does not exceed one year of incarceration. Although a misdemeanor conviction usually carries a shorter sentence than a felony and does not have some of the other consequences of a felony conviction (such as the loss of the right to own a gun), a misdemeanor conviction is a serious matter. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you certainly take it seriously, and so do our criminal defense attorneys. You expect your attorney to defend just as tenaciously on a misdemeanor charge as for a felony charge, and that is what we will do.Levels of Misdemeanor Crimes
In Indiana, misdemeanors are divided into three levels, based on the length of the sentence that can be imposed.
- Class A misdemeanors have a maximum sentence of one year and a $5000 fine.
- Class B misdemeanors have a maximum sentence of 180 days and a $1000 fine.
- Class C misdemeanors have a maximum sentence of 60 days and a fine of $500.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor and it is your first offense, your attorney may be able to negotiate a diversion for you. If you qualify for a diversion, the information about your crime will remain a part of your criminal history, but will show up as an arrest and a dismissal rather than a conviction. Later it may be possible to have the arrest expunged from your record. After reviewing your case, we will advise you as to which of these options is best to pursue in your case.Alternative Misdemeanor Sentencing
As discussed under our Felony practice area, in Indiana Level 6 felony convictions can be converted to misdemeanor convictions under certain conditions. Although a misdemeanor conviction is nothing to be taken lightly, it can carry fewer consequences, such as the loss of certain rights, than a felony conviction.Lesser Included Offenses
Prosecutors often have alternatives for the charges they file for certain offenses, and sometimes there are misdemeanor alternatives to felony charges. As discussed above, a misdemeanor conviction not only carries a lower range of sentences than a felony conviction, there are also other consequences of being convicted of a felony. That means that an agreement with the prosecutor to plead guilty to a lesser included misdemeanor in exchange for dropping the felony charge, or a jury verdict of not guilty of a felony but guilty of a lesser included misdemeanor, can sometimes be considered a winning result for the defendant.Examples of Misdemeanor Charges
Harshman Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC represents clients who have been charged with the following types of misdemeanor crimes, among others. Most of these offenses can also be charged as felonies under certain circumstances, and we defend clients against those charges as well.
- Marijuana possession
- Criminal recklessness
- Interference with child custody
- Shoplifting or conversion
- Inappropriate communication with a child
- Possession of fake ID
- Criminal deception
- Check deception
- Carrying a handgun without a license
- Criminal mischief
- Sale of obscene material
- Obscene performance
- Public indecency
- Public nudity
- Patronizing a prostitute
- Operating a vehicle while intoxicated
- Minor possession of alcohol
- Domestic Battery
- Public Intoxication / Disorderly Conduct