It’s Just a Misdemeanor – it Can Still Hurt

Mark Rollins Criminal Law, Expungement

Misdemeanors in DC and Maryland

In the District of Columbia a misdemeanor is defined as crime punishable by less than 12 months in jail.  Maryland has statutes governing each misdemeanor. Regardless, of whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor in the District of Columbia or in the State of Maryland, you should take it seriously.

Misdemeanors make up 80 percent of U.S. criminal dockets.  See
Misdemeanors, 11 Ann. Rev. L. & Soc. Sci. 255 (2015). Most convictions in this country are for misdemeanors. Most people do not realize that you can be convicted of a criminal offense that carries no jail. Yes, you can go to jail for an arrest even though the statute carries no jail time. See ATWATER v. CITY OF LAGO VISTA

Misdemeanors Have Collateral Consequences

Petty crimes can have life-altering consequences. This blog would be a 1000 pages long if I told you ever collateral consequences. For example, you can be barred from entering certain counties just for receiving a misdemeanor conviction. Other collateral consequences can include license suspension, evicted from low-rent housing, barred from certain jobs, and barred from certain professional organizations, etc.

It Can Even Impeach a President

Remember the Constitution sets specific grounds for impeachment – “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. So even the President of United States can be impeached for a misdemeanor.

If You Are Arrested, Take it Seriously.

District of Columbia and Maryland have revamped their expungement laws to address some of these issues by given an individual a chance to seal or expunge their record. However, certain misdemeanors are never expungable and before you plead guilty you should know whether this record will be with you for the rest of your life. Criminal lawyers who do not know whether the conviction can be expunged is not doing you a service because this should be one of the first questions you should be asking the lawyer. Even if you are offered diversion for your misdemeanor, you should know whether the arrest can be sealed.

If you want to learn more about the injustice of the misdemeanor system. take a look at former public defender, Alexandra Natapoff, her book is
‘Punishment Without Crime.’  She states, 13 million misdemeanors are filed each year in the U.S., trapping the innocent, punishing the poor and making society more unequal.

Feel free to contact us:

Rollins and Chan Law Firm

419 7th Street, NW Suite 405
Washington DC, District of Columbia 20004
United States (US)
Phone: 202-455-5610
Secondary phone: 855-816-0953