You may face a misdemeanor charge. Even though the charge may seem minor, it may affect you long into the future. If you did not commit an offense, you have the opportunity to contest the charge against you. At this point, you may want to consult with a misdemeanor lawyer in Newnan, GA, to explore your legal options. 

At J. Ryan Brown Law, we offer state-wide criminal defense representation in Georgia. Our misdemeanor lawyers do not settle for inferior case results. We advocate for our clients and help them find ways to dispute misdemeanor charges. To learn more, contact us today. 

Misdemeanor Definition

A misdemeanor refers to a criminal offense. It is not as severe as a felony, which is classified as a serious offense. Regardless, being charged with a misdemeanor or felony can have long-lasting ramifications. 

Per the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 17-10-3, those convicted of a misdemeanor may face a fine up to $1,000, a jail sentence lasting up to 12 months, or both. 

There is also the possibility of probation, which may be offered as a substitute for incarceration. With probation, you may be put on notice to behave well for a set period of time. As long as you avoid any criminal acts during this period, you may not have to go to jail or deal with other penalties. 

In addition, you may have to pay restitution, i.e., court-ordered monetary compensation, to the victim of a crime. 

Misdemeanor Examples

There are many crimes that may be considered misdemeanors. These include:


With assault, someone is charged with threatening to physically harm someone. It may also involve an attempt to hurt someone. Assault and battery are not the same thing. If you have been charged with battery, someone may be claiming you inflicted bodily harm. 

Disorderly Conduct

If you act obnoxiously around others, you may be charged with disorderly conduct. Common types of disorderly conduct charges include disturbing the peace and loitering. 

Reckless Driving

You may be driving a car in a way that puts a person or their property in danger. In this situation, you may be charged with reckless driving. 

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

If you are caught driving a car while under the influence of alcohol, you may be charged with a misdemeanor based on a first offense. Also, you may have your driver’s license suspended for 12 months, with the option to request reinstatement after 120 days. 

Shoplifting and Theft

If someone enters a store and intends to steal items, they may be charged with shoplifting. Along with this, if an individual actually takes items from a store, they may face a theft charge. 


You may enter someone else’s property without their permission. In this scenario, you may be considered a trespasser and be charged accordingly. 

Resisting Arrest

An individual may obstruct or prevent a police officer from arresting them. At this time, they may be charged with resisting arrest. 

Violating Orders of Protection

You are required to comply with the terms of a restraining order. If you choose not to do so, you may be charged with violating orders of protection. 

Misdemeanor attorneys cannot change the fact you have been charged with any of these offenses or any others. Conversely, they can explain the importance of Miranda rights and other legal protections. 

Misdemeanor of a High and Aggravated Nature

If you have been convicted of an offense more than once within a limited amount of time or a misdemeanor like sexual battery, you may be charged with a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. 

As an example, you may have been convicted of driving under the influence twice within the past five years. If you are convicted of a DUI for a third time, you may be charged with a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.  

According to OCGA § 17-10-4, the punishment for this type of misdemeanor may be a fine of up to $5,000, a jail sentence of up to one year, or both.  

When a Misdemeanor Is Treated as a Felony

There are instances where a misdemeanor may be punished in the same way as a felony. For example, an individual may be convicted of driving under the influence for the fourth time within a 10-year period. Since they have previously been convicted of a DUI three times, the latest charge may be treated as a felony.  

Although there is a difference between a felony and a misdemeanor crime, some misdemeanors could be prosecuted as felonies. For example, even though a DUI is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, a fourth DUI offense within 10 years will be prosecuted as a felony crime.

Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction

It may take weeks or months to resolve a misdemeanor charge. If you are convicted, the punishment you receive may impact your finances, career, and relationships with family and friends. 

Following a conviction, you may have to spend time in jail. This means you are not able to continue to work in your job and earn a living wage. During this period, you put your career in danger. You may wind up losing your job down the line. It may be challenging to find a new position due in part to your conviction. 

A conviction may put additional stress on your family and friends. Family members may be forced to find ways to stay afloat financially if you are not available to support them as a result of your conviction and jail sentence. Some may choose to have nothing to do with you moving forward, since they may have concerns you are a convicted criminal. 

How to Respond to a Misdemeanor Charge

Just because you have been charged with a misdemeanor does not guarantee your offense will be reduced or dismissed. If you work with a Newnan assault lawyer or another legal professional who specializes in misdemeanor charges, you can get the help you need to avoid the worst possible consequences. 

Here are things you should do as soon as you have been charged with a crime:

Remain Calm

Getting charged with a crime may be scary. You may be worried you will get convicted of criminal activity and be forced to deal with long-lasting consequences. If you remain calm in the aftermath of your charge, you may be able to act rationally. Remember, you do not have to go through the legal process alone. You can pursue legal help, and when you do, you may receive the support you need to dispute your charge. 

Contact an Attorney

You should not expect your charge to disappear on its own. Fortunately, your lawyer can help you map out a legal strategy. They may explore ways to work with the prosecution to negotiate a plea deal. Your attorney may also collect evidence that may show you do not deserve to be punished. 

Go to Court 

Missing a scheduled court date will result in an FTA and likely a warrant for your arrest. Stay on track with your court proceedings. Your lawyer will keep you up to date on court appearances. They can also go to court with you. 

Collect Evidence

You and your attorney can work together to build a body of proof. Evidence may include photos, videos, and witness statements that show you had nothing to do with a crime someone else claims you committed. 

Do Not Speak About Your Case

If anyone reaches out to you and asks you to speak about your misdemeanor, notify your attorney. You can let your lawyer discuss your charge on your behalf. This may help you avoid saying something that could compromise your case. 

Your attorney can discuss the legal process with you. They can explain what will happen once you have been charged with a crime. If you have concerns or questions during this process, your lawyer can address them. 

Legal Process for a Misdemeanor

You will not be convicted at the same time you are charged with a crime. There is a legal process in place that applies to misdemeanor crimes. Here are the steps of this process and what to expect at each one:


You have constitutional rights and protections that apply when you are arrested. For instance, you have the right to remain silent. Even if police officers ask you questions, you do not have to answer them. 

The police are required to read your Miranda rights during your arrest. They must also notify you about your rights under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If neither of these things are done, you may be able to argue that your legal rights were violated at the time of your arrest. 


The police will bring you to jail, where you are booked for a crime. After you are booked, you may be able to call a family member, friend, or anyone else. You may remain in police custody until a judge orders your release, or you can post bail. 

Initial Appearance

You may have to appear in front of a judge who will read your charges to you. Next, you have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. An attorney may help you with a first-offender plea. If you have previously been convicted of a crime, your lawyer can review your case and help you determine the best course of action for your initial appearance. 

Plea Negotiation

Your attorney may work with the prosecution to negotiate a plea bargain. If they succeed, you may accept a lesser charge in exchange for a quick resolution. A plea deal may also help you avoid a jail sentence. 


If no plea deal is reached, you can bring your case to trial. You and your attorney can present your case and explain why you believe you should not be punished. Alternatively, the prosecutor may dispute your claims and do everything they can to make sure you are punished to the fullest extent of the law. 

Your attorney will represent you throughout your legal proceedings. They may consider several legal defense options. By doing so, they may help you successfully contest a misdemeanor charge. 

Legal Defense for a Misdemeanor

You may have concerns the state may try to prosecute you without evidence. With help from an attorney, you may develop a legal strategy that disputes any claims from the prosecution. Common legal strategies used in misdemeanor cases include:

Reasonable Doubt

Your lawyer may question the prosecution’s argument to the point where there is reasonable doubt about the claims against you. They may also raise doubts about the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses. Doing these things may show the court that the case against you is flawed. 


You may be able to prove you were somewhere else when a crime was committed. Witnesses may help you corroborate your claim. Your attorney may share photos, videos, and other proof to verify your alibi. 

Mistaken Identity

You may be accused of a crime that someone else committed. If there was a case of mistaken identity, your lawyer may be able to provide evidence and witness statements to support this. The prosecution may struggle to disprove your argument, which may help you get a favorable ruling. 

Illegal Search and Seizure

You are protected against illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. If you can prove police officers gathered evidence unlawfully, the court may be forced to dismiss it. This may damage the prosecution’s argument against you.  

False Confession

Police officers may coerce you into confessing to a crime you did not commit. Your attorney may be able to show you made a false confession. If they do, the prosecution may not be able to use a confession they previously got from you as evidence. 

Every misdemeanor case is different. Your attorney will carefully consider the conditions relating to your charge as they evaluate legal strategies.  

Misdemeanor Plea Bargain

Negotiating a plea bargain may be an ideal outcome in a misdemeanor case. It may be difficult to get a speedy trial in Georgia. In the time before your trial date, your lawyer and the prosecutor may go back and forth with possible deals. If you get one that meets your expectations, you can accept it and close your case. 

You are under no obligation to approve a plea agreement. If your attorney believes it may be in your best interests to pursue a plea deal, they will explain their reasoning. Your lawyer may help negotiate an agreement. They may not agree to this deal without your consent. 

If you do not get a plea deal, you like, you and your attorney can move forward with your trial. You may have a strong argument, but the prosecution may have a wealth of evidence and witness testimony they may use against you. If you have concerns about the prosecution’s case, you may want to consider approving a plea deal. This may help you protect against a conviction. 

Expunging a Criminal Conviction

Being convicted of a crime in Georgia may impact your ability to land a job, buy a home, or obtain various professional licenses. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you may be able to file a request to expunge your criminal record. This may allow you to restrict public access to your criminal records. 

A prosecutor will decide if a misdemeanor conviction will be expunged. They may consider if you were arrested without being charged or if the charges against you were dropped. In either of these scenarios and many others, an expungement may be warranted. 

Get Legal Help with Your Misdemeanor Case

By selecting J. Ryan Brown Law for legal representation, you join our family on day one. We give your misdemeanor case the attention it deserves. Our team is available to help you at each stage of your litigation. To request a free consultation, contact us today. 

J. Ryan Brown Law, LLC

J. Ryan Brown Law, LLC