Best Tips after a Misdemeanor Charge Misdemeanors are less serious criminal charges than felonies. However, “less serious” is a relative term. A misdemeanor can have many drastic consequences for a person, including making it difficult to secure employment or rent an apartment. Misdemeanor convictions can also jeopardize a person’s ability to get or keep a professional license. Misdemeanors can also result in jail time—up to a year in some cases. Getting sent to jail is often the first domino to fall, but soon there is a cascade of negative results, including job loss, school interruption, or loss of child custody. The financial fallout from a misdemeanor conviction can be immense. For these reasons, anyone picked up for a criminal charge should hire a misdemeanor attorney right away. A seasoned misdemeanor attorney can make the difference between staying out of jail or having your life dramatically disrupted. As an experienced Wyoming criminal defense firm, we offer our best tips for what to do after a misdemeanor charge. Do I Need a Lawyer for a Misdemeanor? The Right to Self-Representation Criminal defense suspects have a Constitutional right to represent themselves in a criminal proceeding. They also have the right to some legal help, whether in the form of access to a law library or the appointment of standby counsel who can help guide a defendant in the right direction. In our experience, a criminal defendant is much better off hiring a lawyer for a misdemeanor than trying to represent themselves. It takes too much time to learn the law and understand all the intricacies of criminal defense. Furthermore, an attorney is better able to identify whether the police followed the Constitution when gathering evidence or whether they violated your Fourth Amendment rights. We have successfully lobbied judges to toss incriminating evidence when the police violated our client’s rights during interrogation. If someone asked us, “Can I be a lawyer with a misdemeanor charge?”, we would answer, “Yes – but you should still contact us.” To mount the best possible defense, hire a Wyoming misdemeanor attorney right away. Classes of Misdemeanor Charges Wyoming does not have classes of misdemeanors. An attempt was made years ago to classify all misdemeanors, but that apparently has failed. Nevertheless, some misdemeanors carry more serious penalties than others. Unless otherwise spelled out in a statute, a misdemeanor carries a maximum jail sentence of 6 months and a fine of up to $750. A defendant might also have to pay court costs or fees. The most serious misdemeanors result in a jail sentence of up to 1 year. But a misdemeanor, by law, cannot result in more than 1 year in jail. If it does, then it is a felony. To better understand the penalties you are facing, meet with a Wyoming misdemeanor attorney at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense to review the charges. Tips When Choosing an Attorney The right attorney makes all the difference when trying to fight misdemeanor charges. The best attorneys do not simply employ “one size fits all” defense strategies but instead immerse themselves in the facts of the case. To choose the right misdemeanor attorney for you, remember the following: Schedule a free consultation. You can discuss your case and ask questions, such as what type of punishment you are facing if convicted.Ask the attorney about his or her experience. Experience matters. A divorce lawyer might be a great attorney who sounds confident, but he might not have any experience with criminal matters. Someone who has handled many criminal defendants will be a better choice since he has kept up with changes in the law and knows local prosecutors, which is a big help when negotiating a plea deal.Request a realistic assessment of your case. An ethical lawyer will never lie or tell you that your case is a “slam dunk” win. Instead, a lawyer can discuss the odds of conviction based on the facts known at that time.Ask about fees, but don’t get hung up on the money. Many people want to represent themselves because they don’t want to pay any attorneys’ fees. But think about all you can lose if you handle your case yourself and fail to drive a hard bargain. An attorney’s fees are usually quite reasonable.Check online reviews but take them with a grain of salt. Often, the only people motivated enough to write a review are those who want to complain. After meeting with a lawyer, trust your gut. Did you get along with the attorney? Did you find him persuasive? If so, you can go ahead and hire him or schedule more consultations with other lawyers. Misdemeanor Attorneys You Can Trust At Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, we have helped many defendants get out from under criminal charges. We would be happy to discuss your case with you and offer a free consultation to get started. Contact us today.
Probation allows a person to avoid going to jail or prison while serving a sentence. For this reason alone, many people aggressively try to get probation if they cannot get the charges dismissed altogether. However, probation is not a “get out of jail free” card. Instead, it comes with an array of conditions that you must follow. Some of the more common include staying out of trouble, undergoing periodic or regular drug tests, and meeting regularly with a probation officer. These aren’t optional. If you violate any of these conditions, you can be picked up and incarcerated. At Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, we receive many panicked calls from someone who has maybe missed a visit with their probation officer or who has been picked up for a DUI. They call because they want to know “how much time can you get for violating probation?” The answer is pretty simple—you can get as much time in jail or prison as you would have received had you never received probation. But it is also possible to avoid jail even if you violated a condition. What is a Probation Revocation Hearing? Under WY Stat. § 7-13-408, your probation officer has the power to take you into custody and to detain you for a reasonable period of time if he or she believes you violated any condition of your probation. You will also have a probation hearing. Under the law, you are entitled to receive written notice of the substance of the allegations against you. This written notice is key because it allows you and your attorney to prepare for the hearing. The hearing is usually held before a judge, hearing officer, or other person empowered to hear the case. You will have the right to cross-examine any witnesses who offer testimony against you. You can also present any proof in your possession that shows you did not commit the violation or that the violation was unintentional. In many ways, these hearings are like trials. However, the standard of proof is much lower. You do not need to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the judge only needs to find it is more likely than not that you committed the violation. Important Criminal Defense Information Important Criminal Defense Information Will You Be Sent to Jail? It isn’t automatic that you will be sent to jail if you violated your probation. Instead, WY Stat. § 7-13-1107(b) proposes other administrative sanctions that can be imposed, including community service or loss of certain privileges. Your attorney can argue that these punishments are much more appropriate, especially if your violation was minor. You can also be sent to the county jail for a short period of time—up to 30 days. This does not mean your probation is revoked. Instead, you simply go to jail for a short period of time and are still on probation when you leave jail. Possible placement in a residential community correctional program for up to 60 days is also an option that will allow you to continue probation. What if Probation is Revoked? This is the worst outcome. Once probation is revoked, you will be sentenced just as you would have been had the judge not put you on probation, to begin with. Probation violation sentences will depend on the underlying offense. To figure out how much jail time for a probation violation, meet with your attorney to review the initial charges against you. Probation can be ordered for either a misdemeanor or a felony conviction. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, then you are looking at a maximum of 6-12 months in jail anyway. Felony sentences depend on the felony you were charged and convicted of. Also, you might be charged with a new crime, which is the reason why you are having your probation revoked in the first place. For example, you might have been arrested for DUI, which is now another substantive offense you could do time for. As you can see, the answer to the question, “how long do you go to jail for violating probation?” is really “it depends.” Fight Back Defendants should do everything possible to prevent a revocation of their probation. In some cases, you might not have done anything wrong, so there is no valid reason to revoke. In others, the violation is small and technical in nature and does not indicate that you can’t continue successfully with your probation. At Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, we help criminal defendants get back on their feet after an arrest. This includes fighting for probation and then making sure it is not revoked. If you’ve been picked up, please contact us today. A member of our team will swing into action to figure out the allegations against you and build a case that shows you deserve to keep your probation. Schedule your free and confidential initial consultation today. “I felt helpless and hopeless…” When I reached out to Jeremy, I felt helpless and hopeless. Jeremy gave me my voice back. I tried to take care of legal issues on my own but my situation only got worse. Hiring Jeremy was the best choice. He was professional, honest and made me proud to have him on my side. – Carrie G.