Everyone makes mistakes, but some end up reaching the level where law enforcement officers get involved. When that happens, you need to understand what type of charge you face and what the potential penalties are if convicted.
The first element you need to consider is the classification of the charges you face. Most people understand that misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, but that does not mean that lesser offenses do not deserve the same attention as more serious ones do.
Are you facing a misdemeanor charge?
Here in Ohio, misdemeanors come in different degrees ranging from fifth-degree, which is the lowest, to first-degree, which is the highest. Depending on the situation, you could face time in jail up to one year. Misdemeanors do not ordinarily result in prison time, which is usually anything over a one-year sentence. These offenses usually come with monetary fines as well. A court may also add additional requirements such as drug or alcohol counseling in an OVI.
You may have more flexibility in the outcome of misdemeanor charges since the law does not consider them as serious as felonies, but it still creates a criminal record that could follow you for the rest of your life. You could experience penalties that affect your personal and professional lives. Using the OVI example, you could lose your job if your driver's license is suspended and you drive for a living.
Are you facing a felony charge?
Felonies also have degrees ranging from fifth, the lowest, to first, the highest. Unlike misdemeanors, these offenses come with significant periods of incarceration and hefty fines. The repercussions for those convicted can be severe. For instance, if you were involved in a car accident in which someone suffered serious injuries or died, and police suspect you of OVI, the misdemeanor charge for drinking and driving could become a felony.
If convicted, you could face fines up to $20,000 and prison time up to 10 years. More than likely, you would want to begin challenging the charges immediately knowing that you face these types of penalties. Depending on the circumstances, you might plea bargain the charges back down to a misdemeanor, which would be preferable, but will still come with penalties and consequences for your life.
It doesn't matter what type of charge you face
Whether you face misdemeanor or felony charges, you need to tackle them equally. In order to achieve the best outcome possible, you probably need to seek out some advice and guidance to better understand your rights and legal options.