Misdemeanors are considered less serious offenses and are punishable by imprisonment of less than one year. While these charges are less serious, a conviction may hamper your future ability to find employment or receive security clearances.
Misdemeanors can include :
- Some Traffic Offenses
- Illegal Drug Use
- Assault and Battery
- Petty Theft
- Public Intoxication
- Disorderly Conduct
If convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor you could be facing up to one year in jail and a $2,500.00 fine. Also misdemeanors involving narcotics or alcohol can result in a suspension of driving privileges
All misdemeanor cases begin in the General District Court. They normally are initiated by issuing of a citation or summons by the arresting officer or a complaint filed by a prosecutor. If you are arrested, the case is taken before a magistrate who will set bond. Typically, the first court date will be the arraignment where the accused will simply be notified of the charge against them, a trial date will be set, and the accused given a chance to determine their choice of legal counsel. There is no option for a jury and so only the judge decides guilt or innocence.
Any finding of guilt in General District Court or Juvenile and Domestic Relations court can be appealed. These lower courts do not have any record of the evidence presented for the finding so the matter would he heard de novo, brand new, as if it had not been previously heard. The appeal occurs in the Circuit Court where a jury can be requested. Any appeal of the decision of the General District Court or the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court must be noted with the clerk of that court within 10 days of the judge’s ruling or this right of appeal would be lost.