Understanding Criminal Charges and the Potential Penalties

After someone is arrested, they’re likely worried about the charges they’re facing and what could happen if they’re convicted. Those who have never been arrested before may have no idea what the charges mean, what the potential penalties are, or whether they have a chance at avoiding a conviction. This is where a lawyer can help. A criminal lawyer can explain the charges, potential penalties, and what defences may work to avoid a conviction.

Learn the Exact Charge

It’s important for the arrested person to know the exact charge or charges they’re facing. This information is typically written on the paperwork from their arrest, though the charges can change once the prosecutor is able to view the case. A lawyer should be able to find out what the exact charges are and make sure the arrested person knows what they’re facing. Since many crimes can be a misdemeanour or a felony, knowing the exact charges is needed for the arrested person to know whether there is the potential for them to spend a significant amount of time in jail after a conviction.

Find Out if It’s a Misdemeanour or Felony

Misdemeanour crimes are those that are generally punishable by under a year in jail. Felonies are crimes that are punishable by more than a year in jail or prison. Some crimes, like theft, can be misdemeanours or felonies depending on the situation. For theft, if it’s under a certain dollar amount, it’s likely going to be a misdemeanour. If the person is accused of stealing something that has a higher value, they’re likely looking at a felony charge.

Look into the Potential Penalties

Once the arrested person knows what the exact charge is and whether it’s a misdemeanour or felony, they can take a look at the penalties they’re facing. It’s a good idea to look at no only the maximum, but the minimum as well. Many crimes have minimum sentences the judges will follow, though it is possible to get a sentence that’s reduced further. Knowing what the minimum and maximum are can help the arrested person plan for what will happen if they are convicted.

Speak with a Lawyer About Reducing the Sentence

Reducing the charges or the sentence is possible, even if the person is highly likely to be convicted of the crime. For drug-related crimes, for instance, it may be possible to receive little to no jail time in exchange for entering and completing a treatment program. In some cases, the arrested person may even be able to avoid having a conviction on their record if they fulfil certain requirements. This is something they need to speak about with their lawyer to see what can apply in their situation.

After an arrest, hiring an attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. If you’ve been arrested, contacting an attorney today gives you the chance to learn more about the charges you’re facing and what you can expect moving forward. Check out to learn more about the differences between misdemeanour and felony charges, then contact a lawyer to start working on your case.


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