If you’ve committed a crime in Arkansas, you can expect that it will fall under one of two categories: either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Understanding the distinction between misdemeanors and felonies is particularly important if you’re being accused of committing one of the two. In either case, it’s imperative that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible; an experienced criminal defense lawyer will help you defend your name and protect your rights and freedoms.
What’s a misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, which means less potential jail time and fines. Typically, the maximum sentence associated with a misdemeanor is one year, with a fine not to exceed $2,500.
Misdemeanors might include crimes like harassment, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, assault, DWIs, and theft.
They’re divided into categories based on the severity of the crime that was committed: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A is the most serious– if convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, you might be looking at up to a year of sentencing and a fine up to $2,500.
For a Class B misdemeanor, you can expect up to 90 days of sentencing and a fine not to exceed $1,000. A Class C misdemeanor means a sentence up to 30 days, and a fine not to exceed $500.
In Arkansas, theft of property worth less than $1,000 would be considered a Class A misdemeanor; public intoxication is an example of a Class C misdemeanor.
What happens if you’re charged with a misdemeanor?
If your legal counsel isn’t able to prevent you from being sentenced, you will have to serve the sentence determined by the judge. You’ll also be responsible for the associated fine.
In most cases, you’re free to pursue expungement or record sealing immediately after you’ve completed your sentence and paid the fine. If you’ve been convicted of certain crimes– like battery, or indecent exposure– you may have to wait several years before you’re able to request expungement.
What’s a felony?
An important distinction between felonies and misdemeanors is the associated incarceration. People convicted of misdemeanors serve their assigned sentence in local jails, while those convicted of felonies complete their sentences in state prisons.
In Arkansas, felonies are also divided into several categories based on the severity of the crime.
A Class Y felony is the most serious– if you’re charged with a Class Y felony, you might be facing somewhere between 10 and 40 years in prison. A Class Y felony conviction is reserved for very serious crimes, like murder, rape, kidnapping, and arson.
A Class A felony carries a sentence up to 30 years, with a minimum of 6 years, plus a $15,000 fine. If you were caught carrying a large amount of drugs or paraphernalia, and it’s determined that you intended to distribute them, you might be looking at a Class A felony conviction.
A Class B felony carries a minimum sentence of 5 years that could last up to 20 years, plus a $15,000 fine. Possession of drug paraphernalia and theft of property are some examples of potential Class B felonies.
A Class C felony carries a sentence up to 10 years with a minimum sentence of 3 years, and a $10,000 fine. Committing fraud or receiving stolen property are potential Class C felonies.
Finally, a Class D felony carries a sentence up to 6 years and a $10,000 fine. Some examples of potential class D felonies: possession of a firearm by a felon, breaking and entering, possession of certain controlled substances.
In addition to hefty prison sentences and fines, felonies also have long-term consequences for those who are convicted– for example, if you’re convicted of a felony, your voting rights might be revoked. You may also be unable to obtain certain business licenses, run for office, or own a gun.
What should I do if I’m facing a felony or misdemeanor conviction?
The most important thing you can do is obtain quality legal counsel. An experienced attorney has the tools and knowledge to minimize your sentence or even get your case dismissed. Trusting an attorney’s insight will help you protect your rights and freedoms– and if you’re potentially facing many years of incarceration, protecting your freedom is more important than ever.
At Digby Law Firm, we’re here to help. Keep our number on hand (501-500-9292) and give us a call. We’ll get to work right away.