Even if you're normally someone who closely follows all of the rules, it can be very easy to suddenly find yourself in trouble with the law. Maybe you brought a beer outside onto the sidewalk, got into a disagreement that escalated out of control, or were in a rush and started driving recklessly. However, even a minor criminal charge can ruin your life. Here's what you can do about it.
There Are No Minor Criminal Charges
Some crimes are worse than others, but any criminal charge is life altering. No matter what you were convicted of, you will still have a criminal record.
When you apply for a job, you will have to check yes to criminal convictions. Some people won't care, but many will decide you are a criminal right on the spot and reject you without any care for what really happened.
Option 1: Plea to a Civil Charge
Most minor criminal charges are similar in nature to quality of life violations of city ordinances and state civil laws. The difference between a civil citation and a criminal charge is that you won't have a criminal record.
A civil citation is essentially the same as a traffic ticket. Pay your fine, and it's over.
In many cases, especially if you have a clean record, your criminal defense attorney will be able to negotiate a plea to a civil charge. You will plead guilty to the violation, pay the fine, and, in exchange, all criminal charges will be dropped, and you'll avoid a record.
Option 2: Pretrial Diversion
Some courts and prosecutor's offices have pretrial diversion programs to help people avoid criminal charges. While they go by different names in different areas, the general concept is the same.
When you first go to court, the judge will delay your case. During the delay, you'll need to meet certain conditions such as community service hours or just avoiding another arrest. When you come back to court, the criminal charges will be dropped as long as you have met the conditions.
Option 3: Expungement
If you are convicted, you may still be able to clean up your record. Once your sentence is complete, you can apply to have your sentence expunged on the grounds that having a permanent criminal record is too harsh of a punishment.
To get help beating a criminal charge, contact a local criminal defense attorney today. To speak with a criminal attorney, contact a law firm such as Alexander & Associates, P.C.