According to data from the FBI, cases involving misdemeanor charges account for 80 percent of criminal dockets in America. There are about 13 million misdemeanor cases annually in North Carolina and throughout the country. Such a large caseload may result in individuals not getting the outcomes that they may deserve. This is because public defenders may lack the time and other resources to give a defendant the zealous defense to which he or she is entitled.
There tends to be a racial element at play when it comes to how cases are resolved. White Americans charged with a misdemeanor are 75 percent more likely to avoid going to jail or prison compared to black Americans. In some cases, an inability to pay fines, court costs or other fees could lead to spending time on probation or even in jail. In some cases, individuals are charged a fee while in jail as well as to apply for a public defender.
If a person does go to jail, it could damage his or her ability to secure an apartment, go to school or find employment. Immigrants may face the possibility of being deported. Due to all the negative consequences a low-level offender may face, changes have taken place to reduce bail or the number of cases prosecutors agree to take.
Individuals who are convicted of misdemeanor charges may face a fine, up to a year in jail or both. A criminal defense attorney may help an individual obtain a plea bargain, which may reduce or eliminate some or all penalties in a case. This may be done by casting doubt on evidence provided by the prosecution. Doing so may cause a jury to cast doubt on the evidence, which could lead to an acquittal or another favorable outcome for a defendant.