The criminal law and federal criminal code divides crimes into 2 broad categories: Misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious and typically result in a sentence to jail of one year or less. Felonies result in state prison time and the court decides whether or not to impose probation.
The three categories of misdemeanors are A, B and C. If you or someone you know is being punished by class C misdemeanor, good news is that it is considered one of the least serious crimes in the US. 7 US states have Class C misdemeanor – Arkansas, Alabama, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Illinois and Missouri. Being the least serious crimes makes it easier to negotiate jail time with the prosecutor. All you need to do is consult an experiences criminal attorney and you will be out of jail in no time.
Class C Misdemeanors according to US states are classified as follows:
• Alabama- Harassment
• Arkansas- Public intoxication
• Illinois- Assault
• Missouri- Illegal gambling
• Tennessee- Public intoxication
• Texas- Theft of property valued under $50
• Oregon- Disorderly conduct
MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM SENTENCES
Class C misdemeanors trigger small punishments. In Texas, first time offenders only face a fine of $500 and no jail. The sentence is served in a country or local jail unlike felonies offenders who end up in state prisons. The range of sentence is different for different states. In Alabama imprisonment is for a maximum of 3 months whereas in Missouri it is 15 days max. The potential fines also depend on the law of each state. For Tennessee it is a maximum of $50 and in Illinois fines are as high as $1500.
Unless you have had aggravating situation related with your misdemeanor arrest, or have a prior conviction, the most likely scenario will be a mitigated sentence or in certain cases a suspended sentence. Usually there are many sentencing options available in class C misdemeanors so it is vital to take advice from an experienced criminal attorney. The result of your negotiation would probably be a sentence that won’t leave a permanent mark on your criminal records. Many states also have special first offender programs like Arkansas. But such programs won’t be available to you if you are a serious violent offender such as assault. Usually people resort to probation. Under probation while you may avoid jail time, the conviction will stay on your records. A better option is therefore suspended sentence or diversion program. These avoid jail and after a period of time, the charge is dismissed.
LOSS OF RIGHT AND BENEFITS
After being convicted with a class C misdemeanor, you immediately loose the following rights:
• Vote- Illinois
• Continue with your occupation especially in the healthcare sector which requires federal or state license.
• Ability to qualify for federal and state government employment
• Ability to qualify for certain public procurement programs.
• Work as firefighter or police officer in Pennsylvania
If any misdemeanor stays on your record, it is likely to have potentially lifelong and serious consequences for you. That is why it is so important to hire a criminal attorney to negotiate on your behalf and avoid having any misdemeanor conviction on your criminal record.
In some cases, certain rights that are lost due to misdemeanor conviction can be restored, either with a pardon from the government or going out of country on asylums. But the safest course of action is finding a sentencing option that will result in the charge being dismissed.
HOUSING AND EMPLOYMENT WITH A MISDEMEANOR RECORD
Getting a house or employment could be difficult business even with class C misdemeanor. Even though class C misdemeanors are not very serious crimes, the safest course of action for landlords and employers is to choose applicants with no criminal records whatsoever. Certain Class C misdemeanor crimes such as theft in Texas and harassment in Alabama will question your character and whether you can be trusted living or working with others. Your attorney will recommend checking with state officials for individuals or companies participating in programs that offer incentives to those people who have past criminal records.
CLEARING YOUR RECORD
Assume you were not able to avoid getting your Class C misdemeanor from records, certain states will allow for these crimes to be erased. Although the complete process requires a waiting period but it is worth it because the end result is a life-changer. This would wipe off any conviction and arrest news from your record. Your criminal attorney will be familiar with the process of getting your class C misdemeanors erased from record.
At courts, the committer or Class C crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor, or the opposing party has the burden of proving that him/ her guilty. The case is then heard and decided by a judge in a jury trial.
The statute of limitation in most states for a class C misdemeanor is two years. Generally if the misdemeanors offense was conducted two years back, and a complaint was not filed, then this offense will be barred according to the statute of limitation and thus can’t be prosecuted.
The complaint is not the general quoted citation; it has to be a formal document. Only this formal piece of paper will stop the statute of limitation. So if a violation occurred and a complaint was filed even on the last day of the two year period, the case can be prosecuted.
EFFECTS ON THE CRIMINAL RECORD
As with any criminal offense, class C misdemeanor will leave a mark on your past criminal records, including the date of your arrest and details of the conviction. Although in certain cases it is possible to get the criminal history, even of petty misdemeanor permanently removed from your records. The only rule to this by default entrance of your conviction in criminal records is if the defendant is age 18 or below. In that case, the defendant will be charged a minor in the offense. Therefore in the case of a minor, most juvenile records will be sealed and the details of the conviction are not make public.
EFFECTS ON OUR RIGHT TO BARE ARMS
In some states, the conviction of class C misdemeanors that relate to assault or violence may negatively affect the crime-committers future right to hold arms and ammunition. Examples of such misdemeanors include criminal charges filed as a result of violating a restraining or protective order, criminal assault, and domestic violence. Some state’s municipalities allow the defendant to re-apply to obtain a gun permit if a sufficient period of time has passed by since the time of conviction.
In some cases committers or class C misdemeanors have the right to apply to have their conviction removed from their permanent criminal records if a sufficient amount of time has passed by. This process is known as Expungement. The two requirements of obtaining Expungement is that the person must have a clean criminal record and must also successfully complete the mandatory waiting period which is approximately 5 years.