Everyday people in Knoxville and all over East Tennessee are given citations, without being handcuffed and taken to jail. Offenses vary from possession of marijuana, to driving on a suspended license, to shoplifting. The thing these crimes have in common is that they are misdemeanors that do not require an officer to formally arrest. As a result, people often think they aren’t a big deal and that they can handle the situation themselves by showing up to court. That would be a big mistake.
Time magazine this week reported on the unseen consequences of misdemeanor convictions. The article told the story of Christian Watts, who in 2002 was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and wound up with a misdemeanor drug conviction on his record. Despite earning his associates and bachelor’s degrees and working towards his masters degree, he described his life as “stuck in a standstill” due to the roadblocks that the convictions has put in his path. That came as no surprise to the executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Norman Reimer, who believes that “The single most dangerous thing people think is that if they get a conviction and don’t go to jail they won’t face issues.”
The truth is that misdemeanor convictions can come with serious consequences that are hard to imagine years in the future. Convictions can effects circumstances as varied as access to housing, borrowing money, getting a license for many professions, and child custody determinations. The good news is, that there are often alternatives to pleading guilty and having a criminal convictions. Hiring a quality lawyer for a misdemeanor case will often save someone a tremendous amount of time and money, but too often people don’t even call for a free consultation with me, thinking that they can’t afford to hire a lawyer or because talking to a lawyer is intimidating.
The long term costs of a convictions will almost always be larger than the short term investment in hiring a good lawyer, and often people save money on their case in the short term, by avoiding fines, court costs, and restitution. The legal process doesn’t have to be intimidating and I work hard to make sure potential clients are put at ease, treated well and with respect, and quoted a fair and affordable fee that can be paid for overtime on a payment plan.
Don’t go to court without at least calling to speak with me or coming in to the office. Call today at (865) 999-0294, to discuss your options in dealing with your misdemeanor.