Grand Junction Misdemeanor Lawyers
Many people hear the word “misdemeanor” and think they aren’t a big deal - maybe because the strict definition of the word is “minor crime.” However, the way our legal system is set up, misdemeanors aren’t trivial. In fact, being charged with one can have a long-lasting, negative impact on a person’s life.
Any Grand Junction resident facing a misdemeanor needs to fight it just as aggressively as they would a felony. At Peters & Nolan, LLC, our trial lawyers understand how important your reputation is, and we want to ensure you maintain a clean record. Before you agree to a guilty plea or make a deal with prosecutors, give us a call at (970) 243-4357 and schedule a free consultation.
According to Colorado’s statutes, a misdemeanor is defined as a crime that is less serious than a felony, but more serious than a petty offense. There are other types of infractions in Colorado that don’t fit any of these three categories, such as misdemeanor traffic offenses like speeding and parking violations. The penalties include:
- Class 1 traffic offenses: Minimum 10 days in jail or a $300 fine, or both; maximum 12 months in jail or a $1,000 fine, or both.
- Class 2 traffic offenses: Minimum 10 days in jail or a $150 fine, or both; maximum 90 days in jail or a $300 fine, or both.
While many people think of misdemeanors as minor crimes, another way of looking at them is as the second most serious class of offenses in the Colorado legal system. Remember, if you are ever convicted of a future crime, the judge will look at any prior convictions when deciding on your sentence. If the judge sees you have previously been convicted of a misdemeanor, it won’t seem like a minor thing when you are handed a stiffer sentence because of it.
Colorado has three classes of misdemeanors, and they are typically handled in county courts. In Grand Junction, that would be Mesa County, which is notoriously tough on even minor offenses.
Class 3 misdemeanors are the least serious of the three classes. Crimes of this type include property theft with a value of between $50 and $300, prostitution, disorderly conduct, hazing, fourth-degree arson, third-degree criminal trespass, and other similar crimes. The penalty for a Class 3 misdemeanor is up to six months in jail and a fine up to $750.
Next in line are Class 2 misdemeanors. These include theft of property above $300 but less than $750, illegal possession of a concealed weapon, resisting arrest, the manufacture or sale of drug paraphernalia, second-degree arson, and criminal invasion of privacy. The penalties for a conviction can range from three to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
The most severe category is Class 1 misdemeanors. The crimes in this class include theft of property valued between $750 and $2,000, third-degree assault, indecent exposure, second-degree forgery, criminal mischief, and other comparable offenses. The penalties range from six to 18 months in jail with fines of up to $5,000. When a Class 1 has an “extraordinary risk of harm,” the maximum penalty increases to 24 months in jail.
If you watch the news or you have been involved in the criminal justice system before, then you already know that most crimes are sorted into one of two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. What you may not realize is that there are key differences in how these two types of crimes are treated in trial, behind bars, and in the outside world.
Felonies are considered to be the more serious type of crime. Typically, felonies will involve a higher amount of property damage, the loss of high-value items, or a victim who has been severely injured or killed. Some common felony crimes are kidnapping, murder, and drug trafficking. A felony conviction usually results in at least one year in a high-security prison, hefty fines, as well as a loss of certain rights following release.
Misdemeanor crimes, on the other hand, do not result in the loss of high-value objects or severe harm to a victim. For example, petty theft, which involves property worth less than $950, is a misdemeanor, while the theft of something worth more than $2,000 would be considered a felony. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, then you will usually be sentenced to no more than one year in a low-security jail, and you will retain all of your rights when you are released. However, that does not mean a misdemeanor conviction is nothing to worry about, especially when aggravating factors are involved.
If you are being charged with a misdemeanor, you may assume you will be facing a light penalty. However, a misdemeanor does not automatically mean you are getting off easy. This is because the prosecution may choose to rely on aggravating factors during your trial.
Every crime is different. As such, the circumstances around each crime are also different. These circumstances can sometimes be used against you to make your penalties harsher upon conviction. This is a popular tactic used by district attorneys trying to bully someone on trial into a plea deal. There are many aggravating factors that may lead to a harsher penalty for a misdemeanor, including:
Your criminal history: If you have been convicted of crimes in the past, that can lead to you facing harsher penalties. The point of penalties such as jail time, fines, and community service are to discourage people from committing crimes. If that does not seem to be working with you, then the prosecution may push for a longer jail sentence or higher fines.
The alleged victims: If there was an alleged victim of your crime, that could result in you facing worse penalties. This is especially true if the victim is considered to be vulnerable. This could mean the victim is particularly young, particularly old, mentally or physically disabled, ill, or injured.
Your role: Not all crimes are committed independently. Often, multiple people commit a crime, such as shoplifting, together. If you were in such a group and assumed a leadership role, then you would likely be facing harsher penalties than if you were a follower.
On top of aggravating factors, many crimes will be linked or related to other crimes. For example, resisting arrest can be linked to the assault of a police officer. It is very rare to go to trial with only one charge against you. Most of the time, the prosecution will bring as many charges against you as they can. Even if all the crimes you are being charged with are misdemeanors, the penalties for each will add up to a harsh sentence. That is why you should never go into a trial assuming that you will walk out with just a slap on the wrist. If you are facing trial, you need the help of a strong criminal defense attorney.
If you are facing misdemeanor charges, you should immediately call an experienced Grand Junction criminal defense attorney. Some people worry that hiring a lawyer may make them “look guilty,” but every defendant is entitled to legal representation. The only difference is that when you hire your own lawyer, you will get higher-quality defense.
This is essential when it comes to misdemeanor charges, because they are anything but minor. Any jail time will take you away from your family and your job, and give a judge reason to throw the book at you in the future.
The Western Slope criminal defense lawyers at Peters & Nolan, LLC, are dedicated to protecting the rights of every single client. We’ll advise you on the best course of action and do everything we can to get the charges against you thrown out altogether or reduced.
Call our knowledgeable team today at (970) 243-4357 to schedule a free consultation.
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Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.
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