A misdemeanor may not seem like a serious offense, but it is one that can result in a criminal record that may cause difficulties in life.

For instance, you may apply for a job that doesn’t want there to be any negative marks at all on your record. Although you may serve no jail time and just have to pay fines, the consequences reach much further.

This is why you should secure the representation of an experienced St. Paul criminal defense lawyer. Although a Minnesota misdemeanor offense may not seem like a “big deal,” many individuals find that it is in the long-term.

Your Minnesota criminal defense attorney can work hard for you to either have the charges dismissed or to ensure that the consequences are not as damaging as they could be.

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Reputable Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorneys

Unfortunately, many individuals simply sit back and accept the charges against them because they don’t feel that a Minnesota misdemeanor offense is serious enough to warrant the cost of an attorney.

This is a big mistake. The fact is that there are many people who have had difficulty finding meaningful employment or finding a place to live because employers or landlords do not want a single criminal offense on the records of their employees or tenants.

The severity of the impact depends on the type of offense. Common misdemeanor offenses include:

  • Simple theft. Even a small-time shoplifting charge can scream “dishonest” to employers, especially those requiring security clearances or handling sensitive information.
  • First-time DWI. A DWI conviction often leads to driver’s license suspension, increased insurance premiums, and difficulty obtaining professional licenses in transportation or security-sensitive fields.
  • Trespass. While less severe, trespassing on private property can raise concerns about judgment and respect for boundaries.
  • Fifth-degree assault. Though typically involving minor injuries, this offense can negatively affect employment, especially in professions like childcare or healthcare.
  • Domestic assault. These cases also typically involve minor injuries, or perhaps no injuries at all, but a domestic assault conviction can carry significant collateral consequences, such as the inability to lawfully possess a firearm. Domestic assault convictions are also tough to expunge before 10 years from the conviction date have passed.
  • Disorderly conduct. Public intoxication or disruptive behavior might not seem serious, but it raises questions about your temperament, especially in customer service or public-facing roles.
  • Obstructing legal process. Resisting arrest or interfering with police can negatively affect your character and respect for authority.

These are just some of the types of Minnesota misdemeanor crimes that a person can be charged with. An offense, such as a theft or a DWI offense, could have more of an impact on a landlord or employer’s decision than a trespass offense.

An experienced Minnesota misdemeanor defense attorney can effectively advocate for you and possibly reduce the harmful effects of a misdemeanor charge on your life. 

Fighting for Your Rights

One of the reasons why it is important to secure a St. Paul criminal defense attorney is because you have rights, and they need to be protected. Here’s why a St. Paul criminal defense attorney is your secret weapon:

Protecting Your Rights When Interacting with the Police

Law enforcement interactions can be stressful, and it can be easy for law enforcement to violate your rights. An attorney protects your rights, preventing potential violations that could weaken your case.

Help You Avoid Self-Incrimination

It can also be easy for you to self-incriminate yourself, especially in the chaos of being arrested or detained. Your attorney can guide you through what to say and what not to say to minimize damage. 

Minimize Charges  

In some cases, it may be possible to reduce a charge to a petty misdemeanor, which constitutes a fine of up to $300 with no jail time, or have the charges dismissed altogether.

A skilled attorney can negotiate with prosecutors, aiming to reduce your charges to a petty misdemeanor (fine only, no jail time) or even get them dismissed entirely.

Facing criminal charges is a serious matter.  A St. Paul criminal defense attorney can be the difference between a life-altering penalty and a brighter future.

Penalties for Misdemeanor Charges in St. Paul

While a Minnesota misdemeanor might seem to be a minor offense, the repercussions can be long-lasting. In Minnesota, a misdemeanor carries a maximum $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail. However, you could face additional consequences, including:

  • Financial Strain. The fines associated with a misdemeanor charge can significantly strain your budget, impacting everyday living expenses and potentially causing debt.
  • Employment Roadblocks. Background checks are standard practice for many employers.  A criminal record can make you a less attractive candidate, especially for positions requiring trust or security clearances. Even seemingly minor offenses can raise red flags, hindering your job prospects.
  • Housing Hurdles. Finding an apartment can be tricky with a misdemeanor on your record. Many landlords conduct background checks, and a criminal record can make it difficult to secure housing, forcing you into a limited pool of options.
  • Professional License Problems. Depending on your profession, a misdemeanor conviction could jeopardize your ability to obtain or maintain a professional license. This can significantly impact your career path and earning potential.
  • Reputational Damage. A criminal record can follow you for years, potentially impacting your personal and professional relationships.  The social stigma attached to a conviction can burden you, affecting your interactions with others.

Beyond the immediate consequences, there’s also the stigma associated with a criminal record.  Navigating social situations or explaining your past to friends and family can be stressful.

While jail time can be avoided or reduced in many cases, the maximum sentence could be realized without the proper representation.

Contact a St. Paul Criminal Defense Attorney

Misdemeanors may not seem serious enough to warrant the representation of a St. Paul criminal defense attorney. Many times, a misdemeanor can seem like a slap on the wrist. However, they can result in a criminal record and up to 90 days in jail in addition to the fine.

If you or a loved one has been accused of a misdemeanor, a better outcome can be secured by Arechigo & Stokka’s St. Paul criminal defense attorneys.  For over 20 years, we’ve successfully defended clients against various charges, achieving exceptional results.

Our successful track record lists countless reduced charges, dismissed cases, and satisfied clients who can move forward with their lives free from the burden of a criminal record. We understand that facing criminal charges can be stressful and confusing.

That’s why we’re dedicated to fighting aggressively for our clients’ rights, leveraging our in-depth legal knowledge and courtroom experience to secure the best possible results. We can also explore the possibility of expunging your record, keeping your future clean and free from the stigma of a misdemeanor offense.

To learn more about your rights and options, call Arechigo & Stokka at 651-877-6986 to schedule a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Misdemeanors in Minnesota

What Happens If I Plead Guilty To A Misdemeanor?

A guilty plea means you accept responsibility for the offense. This will result in a criminal record and the associated penalties like fines or jail time. However, an attorney can explore alternative options like plea bargains or probation. These strategies can potentially minimize the consequences, reduce fines, or avoid jail time altogether. Discuss all your options with your lawyer before entering a plea.

Can I Get A Misdemeanor Expunged From My Record?

Minnesota allows expungement of certain misdemeanor convictions after a waiting period and meeting specific criteria. This process seals public records of the offense and shields records from appearing in public background checks. However, eligibility depends on the severity of the offense, your criminal history, and the time elapsed since the conviction.  An attorney can assess your situation and guide you through the expungement process.

What Is A Continuance For Dismissal In Minnesota? 

In a continuance for dismissal or diversion (CFD), the prosecution agrees to dismiss the charges if you successfully complete agreed-upon requirements, including remaining crime-free, paying a program fee, and perhaps participating in various programs. Because a CFD typically does not require entering a plea or finding of guilt, it can be a favorable alternative.

How Much Does A Criminal Defense Attorney Cost In Minnesota?

The cost can vary depending on the lawyer’s experience, the complexity of the case, and the number of court appearances required.  While the upfront cost might seem daunting, an experienced misdemeanor defense attorney can significantly improve the outcome of your case.  The potential benefits of reduced charges, avoiding jail time, or a protected record can far outweigh the legal fees.

What Should I Do If I’m Arrested For A Misdemeanor In Minnesota?

Stay calm and polite with law enforcement.  Only provide your name and address, and politely request to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Don’t answer any questions about the alleged offense without legal counsel present.  The sooner you secure legal representation, the sooner your attorney can start protecting your rights and advocating for you in the legal system.