Misdemeanor charges are less serious than felonies and more serious than summary offenses. Although misdemeanor crimes carry less severe punishments, they still shouldn't be taken lightly. The consequences of a conviction can subject you to costly fines, incarceration, and other burdens. And if a misdemeanor crime is the cause of the creation of a criminal record, it could completely destroy your future job prospects.
For these reasons, people who have acquired misdemeanor charges should seek the help of a seasoned Bucks County criminal defense attorney. For the purposes of this article, we will address what to expect when charged with a misdemeanor in this county, and the important role an attorney can play in ensuring you achieve a successful case outcome.
What To Expect With Misdemeanor Charges in Bucks County
Depending on the nature of a crime, a misdemeanor can carry penalties of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A few examples of common misdemeanor crimes committed in Bucks County include:
- Resisting arrest
- Simple assault
- Petty theft
- Drug possession
- Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Criminal trespass
- Disorderly conduct etc.
When a person is arrested and charged with a misdemeanor crime, a record detailing the date of their arrest, the incident, the arresting officer, the charge etc. will be made. Usually, people charged with misdemeanor crimes are released from custody shortly after an arrest and are sent a summons in the mail to appear in court for a preliminary hearing.
The Bucks County Preliminary Hearing kickstarts the criminal prosecution process all defendants will have to go through. It's usually scheduled within 10 days of an arrest, but scheduled dates may vary. At this hearing, the prosecution (the Commonwealth) is given the opportunity to justify that a defendant should be put on trial. In order to successfully do so, the prosecution must present evidence sufficient enough that would make a reasonable person believe that it is possible for the defendant in question to have committed the alleged crime.
If a judge concludes that the prosecution has met this burden of proof, a defendant will officially be charged with the misdemeanor crime, and the case will progress to the Court of Common Pleas. If a judge decides that there isn't enough evidence, or that it isn't compelling enough to proceed, the case will be dismissed.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program
First-time offenders with non-violent misdemeanors may also be eligible for the Bucks County ARD program. ARD is a diversionary pre-trial intervention program that takes on a rehabilitative approach to crime. Members of this program are removed from this system and given terms to complete that aid in remedying the core of their issues, rather than punishment. If the goals in this program are met, members will have successfully avoided a conviction, the creation of a criminal record, and legal penalties.
An attorney can help defendants gauge their eligibility for this program, and maximize their chances of being approved.
Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has represented numerous clients who've acquired misdemeanor charges in Bucks County. He understands the impact the conviction of a misdemeanor crime will have on your life and can weigh your options in your unique case. Contact Joseph D. Lento today online or give him a call at (215) 535-5353 at the earliest available opportunity for assistance.