When you think of criminal convictions, you might think that felonies are the only ones you need to worry about. That thought is one that can lead you into very serious issues if you are facing a misdemeanor and think that you aren't going to have any repercussions from a conviction.
Misdemeanor convictions can have collateral consequences -- those that aren't imposed by the court as part of sentencing but that are the same or similar as a felony conviction. In some cases, the type of crime matters. For example, a drug conviction might impact you in a different way than a drunk driving conviction.
It is imperative that you ask about collateral consequences that you might face if you are facing a misdemeanor. You should also do this if you are thinking of trying to plea a felony down to a misdemeanor. In some cases, such as a defendant who is a permanent resident, even a misdemeanor conviction can mean that the person is at risk for being deported, which would be a huge blow to that person.
An interesting note here is that collateral consequences don't take your actual sentence into account. Even if your misdemeanor doesn't require you to spend time in jail, you can still face the collateral consequences. These can range from not being able to find a job to not being able to get financial assistance.
In some cases, the collateral consequences follow you around longer than the court-imposed penalties. Keep this in mind when you are planning your defense because it can make a big difference in your life.
Source: Time.com, "A Misdemeanor Conviction Is Not a Big Deal, Right? Think Again," Maya Rhodan, accessed March 24, 2017