State law accounts for hundreds of criminal offenses that fall into different categories and carry the potential for varying penalties. Any criminal conviction, however, can have an adverse and unwanted impact on your life. Consulting a Columbia criminal lawyer may be critical to your ability to overcome the criminal charges that you are facing and move on with your life as planned.
The sanctions that you receive from a criminal conviction can be both immediate and long-term. When a judge hands down a sentence, you may have to serve a term of incarceration, pay fines, or endure probation for a designated period. As a criminal lawyer may advise, however, you also can face long-term consequences, including a permanent criminal record that can be a hindrance to finding jobs, housing, and other opportunities in the future.
Crimes are classified under state law as felonies, misdemeanors, or infractions. Felonies are the most severe offenses, and infractions are the least severe offenses. Infractions cannot result in jail time, but only payment of a fine, such as traffic tickets. Misdemeanors and felonies are further divided into multiple classes based on their severity.
Misdemeanor offenses typically can result in a jail sentence of less than one year. Four separate classes of misdemeanors exist, ranging from Class A to Class D misdemeanors. Some common misdemeanor offenses can include DWIs and DUIs, theft, resisting arrest, and assault.
Felony offenses are much more severe and can result in substantial prison sentences. Felonies run from Class A to Class E and can include first-degree robbery, distribution of large quantities of drugs, fraud, and domestic assault.
Criminal offenses follow a classification system based on the levels assigned to them, but they also fall into broader categories of crimes. For instance, some crimes relate primarily to the loss of property, such as shoplifting, theft, vandalism, and arson. Other crimes are mostly financial, including embezzlement, health care fraud, mortgage fraud, and money laundering.
Some criminal offenses could result in harm to people. These crimes can include assault, sex crimes, domestic violence, and murder. Generally, these crimes vary in severity according to the degree of physical harm that individuals inflict on others.
Another set of criminal offenses under state law involve alcohol and drugs. DWI, possession of alcohol by minors, drug distribution, and drug possession all are crimes. Getting legal advice when facing any of these charges may be highly beneficial.
Courts take all criminal offenses seriously, which can lead to harsh punishments, even for a first offense. Even worse, you now have a criminal record that can be a huge barrier to future professional and personal opportunities. As a Columbia criminal lawyer could advise you, a criminal conviction will show up on background checks for years, which puts you at a disadvantage as compared to others.
No matter how grim your situation seems, do not give up hope. Taking the necessary steps to protect your rights and build a strong defense could result in a positive courtroom outcome.