Crimes are generally divided into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are considered more serious offenses and are subject to greater penalties compared to misdemeanors, which are often less serious and are subject to less severe punishment. Instead of serving time in prison, such as felonies, those convicted of misdemeanors may serve a jail sentence of up to one year, probation, fines or community service.
However, misdemeanors are subject to a wide variety of non-criminal consequences. So what, exactly, are these non-criminal consequences?
The following are the most serious non-criminal consequences of having a misdemeanor criminal record:
- Diminished job opportunities – If you are convicted of certain crimes such as fraud, theft, or violence, employers may be less inclined to hire someone with a criminal conviction.
- Reduced earning capacity – Your criminal record can also affect how much money you earn.
- Landlords may be less likely to approve your application for housing – Landlords often run background checks on tenant applicants. They may decide to turn down your application in favor of an applicant with a clean criminal history.
- Colleges may not accept you – Universities may review an applicant's criminal history when deciding if they will be accepted into an institution. A denied application may be the result of a conviction.
- Lenders may decline your application for loan assistance – If you wish to purchase a car, home, or another high-priced item, you may need a loan to cover the costs. If lenders find out that you have been convicted of a crime, they may deny your application.
A misdemeanor can also stay on your criminal record forever, unless your record is expunged or sealed. So if you are facing misdemeanor charges in California, it is wise to obtain legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and future. Your lawyer can evaluate your case and determine whether or not you can have your charges reduced or your entire case dismissed.