In the state of Missouri, there are three different types of criminal charges: Felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. The most serious type of crime that you can be charged with is a felony. These crimes can range anywhere from murder to burglary to certain types of fraud. The least serious crime for which you can be charged by the state is an infraction. Included in this category would be things like traffic violations (speeding, running a red light, etc.).
A misdemeanor crime in Missouri is therefore the “midlevel” category of crimes. They are not considered to be as serious as felonies, but have been determined to be more weighty than a simple infraction. Examples of a misdemeanor in Missouri would be Trespassing in the Third Degree (trespassing 3rd), Assault in the Third Degree (assault 3rd), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. But just because these offenses are not considered to be as serious as felony charges, that does not mean that the state doesn’t take them seriously. The main job of the prosecutor is to get as many convictions as he or she can. This means that they are not there to help the defendant charged with the crime; they are there to prosecute them.
Once you are charged with a misdemeanor (either by receiving a written citation from the police officer at the scene, or one that is mailed to your residence), a court date will be set, and your appearance will be demanded. If you do not appear at the designated time and place, an arrest warrant will be issued by the judge.
But before it reaches the point of an arrest warrant for failure to appear, you basically have two options: 1) you could simply plead guilty to the crime as charged, and accept whatever sentence the judge decides upon (the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is up to one year of jail time, and a fine of $1,000); or 2) you could hire an experienced attorney to help you get through the process, who may be able to get the charges dropped or reduced to a much lesser crime.
The experienced St. Louis criminal defense lawyers at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken have been providing expert assistance to people who have been charged with a misdemeanor for years. Our team of lawyers will help you understand what your rights are, what kind of options you may have, and fully explain how the entire process works. We have developed strong relationships with most prosecutors and judges in St. Louis County, Jefferson County, and St. Charles County, Missouri. As a result, we have had great success in getting most misdemeanors reduced or thrown out altogether.
The initial consultation is free of charge. Call today to learn more.