Oklahoma criminal offenses may be classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. While a felony charge carries more serious consequences upon conviction, even a misdemeanor conviction can have a lifelong impact.
Misdemeanor Charges in Oklahoma
Far too often, individuals charged with misdemeanors think their charge is minor, and choose to proceed without competent legal counsel. Unfortunately, these individuals realize too late their mistake in failing to hire a defense lawyer.
Probation, community service, and up to a year in county jail are all possibilities following a misdemeanor conviction, but for many, the specter of a criminal record is a lingering ramification that continues to force them to pay for their crime long after their sentence is completed. If you have been charged with a crime, your defense attorney can explain to you whether you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor and can help you understand the implications of the offense with which you have been charged.
Essentially, a felony charge is reserved for more serious crimes than a misdemeanor, and therefore, carries stiffer legal penalties. Felony convictions generally result in heavier fines and incarceration of more than a year in state prison (or for federal criminal offenses, in a federal penitentiary).
Misdemeanor crimes are generally considered less severe and often lead to probation and/or a maximum of one year in county jail. In some situations, the same crime may be considered either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on aggravating circumstances.
For example, DUI is charged as a misdemeanor on the first offense, but if one has a previous DUI conviction, subsequent DUI offenses are charged as felonies. Those charged with felonies in generally understand the importance of hiring a lawyer, simply because they know that the consequences of conviction are great.
However, those charged with misdemeanors are sometimes persuaded by the misguided notion that theirs is a minor offense which does not need skilled legal defense. While the legal ramifications of a misdemeanor conviction are lesser than those of a felony conviction, this does not mean the impact is light.
A felony conviction precludes individuals from certain types of employment; felons are prohibited from obtaining Oklahoma state licenses for occupations including teaching, nursing, and child care, among others. However, a criminal record for a misdemeanor can also have a negative impact on employment opportunities.
Any occupation that requires a background check--and many of them do--will find a criminal misdemeanor conviction. While a misdemeanor record may not automatically preclude one's employment, it certainly affects the applicant's likelihood of being hired above candidates without a conviction.
A misdemeanor conviction will not only show up on background checks for employment, but also for admission to educational institutions and for securing a financial loan. This blemish on your record can have serious, long term implications.
Fighting Misdemeanor Charges in Oklahoma
A criminal lawyer will defend you against misdemeanor charges to bring the best possible outcome to your case. The optimum result is to have your case dismissed or to achieve an acquittal of the charges. In the event that neither of these results is a possibility, your defense lawyer may successfully negotiate probation only or a deferred sentence, helping you avoid jail time as a consequence of your conviction.
Regardless of whether you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, your likelihood of a positive outcome is multiplied exponentially with a qualified Oklahoma defense lawyer handling your case.