Before we begin with Class A Misdemeanors, it is important to come to terms with a general idea of what misdemeanors are in the legal context. Misdemeanors include a number of crimes and offenses which are considered minor or least serious in eyes of the law. Compared to bigger and more serious crimes, misdemeanors are punishable for a maximum of up to one year of imprisonment. On the other hand are offenses, collectively termed as felonies, which are punishable by a life sentence or less, depending up on the nature of the offense.
Class A Misdemeanors
A number of states divide offenses into a number of classes according to the degree and nature of the offense. Among misdemeanors, Class A misdemeanors include the most serious offenses and are punished in the strictest terms there are.
States that Classify Misdemeanors among Classes
Following are the eight states that classify misdemeanors into classes according to the seriousness of the offense. These states are; Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Oregon, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky.
Following are some instances of offenses that are punished as Class A misdemeanors in most states of the US:
• Holding a weapon without permit in Texas
• Being caught in possession of a certain amount of marijuana in Tennessee
• Shoplifting worth less than $500 in Missouri
• Aggravated assault in the State of Alabama
• Any kind of domestic violence in Arkansas
• Caught in possession of paraphernalia drug in Alabama
Punishments for Class A Misdemeanors
Offenses that fall in the category of Class A misdemeanors are either punished by a fixed fine or prison sentences depending on the nature and degree of the offense committed. Following are details of these punishments in different states:
If such an offense has been committed in Alabama, Arkansas or Missouri the offender can expect up to a year in either a local or country managed prison. Offenders being tried in Tennessee can face a prison sentence up to 11 months and 29 days. These sentences can include fines as well, but that varies from state to state.
In most states the offenders may have to pay anywhere between $1000 and $2,500 in terms of fine. However, in Texas and Alabama these fines can go up to $4,000 and $6,000 respectively. While in Kentucky the offenders are required to pay just $500 in terms of fine, which is relatively lower than every other state.
Negotiating Class A Misdemeanor Sentences
It is possible to negotiate a number of alternatives to a Class A Misdemeanor sentence with the help of an experienced and competent criminal attorney. They can help offenders discuss their alternatives with state prosecutors and police department. States show this leniency for a number of reasons; top of the list being over crowded prison and the issues that follow that.
States offer alternatives such as deferred sentences and diversion options; with these the offenders have hope to avoid the difficult prison life and come out without a criminal record. In case of first offense by an individual, some states offer alternative programs designed especially for first time offenders. Offenders may be required to attend some classes and restitution, followed by at least 6 months of a clear record (extendable by a year).
There are instances where the Missouri Supreme Court has even suspended sentences for a number of Class A misdemeanors and even felonies. This decision is up to the court and also on how an offender’s attorney negotiates it. States allow this and give out alternatives so the offender can be saved from the criminal label for the rest of their lives.
On the Contrary
There are a number of instances where offenders got stricter sentences when they were got committing the same offense twice or more times. In Illinois, for example, a class A Misdemeanor is automatically converted into a felony if committed twice.
Rights Lost as a Result of Class Misdemeanor Conviction
Many people wrongly assume that a Misdemeanor does not cause any threat to an individual’s civil rights, opportunities and benefits. The real deal is that individuals lose a number of privileges their states offer if they are convicted for such misdemeanors. Employment opportunities are substantially decreased as they become ineligible for a number of state jobs; they also become ineligible for affordable housing programs and food stamps.
While some of these rights become available once the sentence for the offense has been served, others remain unavailable according to the offense committed.
Right to work in the following jobs is lost
Offenders of Class A Misdemeanors become ineligible for the following professions:
• A number of means of occupation become unavailable for offenders ranging for being a barber to a real estate agent.
• Healthcare professionals who require licenses by either their states or federal departments
• In Pennsylvania offenders can never again serve in the police department or as fire-fighter
• Offenders also lose their credibility to qualify for state or federal employment positions
• Public procurement contracts also become unavailable for offenders of these misdemeanors
Right to Vote
In Illinois, the offenders of Class A misdemeanors lose their right to vote.
Employment after committing an offense
Often employers are hesitant to hire employees with a Misdemeanor offense. Their main fear is to suffer from the consequences of negligent hiring and loses that follow that. An offender is in constant fear of losing his reputation; while his opportunities are already limited once he is convicted with such an offense, with the public label of a criminal, it is limited further.
In addition to this, in case a convicted employee influences others at their place of employment, the organization is also at a risk of being sued for making such a reckless decision.
Housing facilities after committing an offense
Landlords on the other hand may refuse renting their spaces to these offenders on the basis of fear of theft and fraud. Convicted individuals can get in touch with their state officials and rent spaces by landlords that participate in re-entry programs and have no issues in renting their houses to those with criminal records.
How can Class A Misdemeanor Convicts Clear their Records
Depending up on the circumstances and nature of the offense committed, states run programs that help individuals with criminal records to get their records clean; these records are even removed from the state’s own records. Sometimes the state even allows the offenders to answer in negative if they are asked about their criminal records.
The process of clearing your records of all offenses may require a waiting period of up to 5 years; convicted individuals are advised to seek a criminal attorney’s professional dealing in such matters. In Kentucky this waiting period is strictly 5 years. However, in crimes involving drugs the convicted offenders who have already qualified for a diversion program are not required to serve a waiting period.
Pardon from Governor
A convict of a criminal offense can also pledge for pardon by the governor of their respective state. This process varies with each state and may also require a waiting period of anywhere between 3 and 5 years. After which the governor can consider their case.
An offender’s criminal attorney can be the best guide for them to take them through this process of clearing their records. They will suggest the most practical ways to get the process over with. While this information can be used for an individual’s knowledge; your attorney will be your best option to understand the intricacies of the legal system