Avoiding the Stigma of a Misdemeanor Conviction

In Florida, misdemeanors are the most frequently prosecuted crimes. A misdemeanor is generally defined as any crime for which the maximum penalty is one year in jail. They are less serious than felonies in most cases. But don’t be fooled into thinking that misdemeanors are trivial. A misdemeanor conviction can have a powerful negative impact on your life for decades. 


At Tampa’s Stechschulte Nell Law Firm, we treat every case as though your life depends on it. Misdemeanors may seem like they won’t affect you because you may only have to pay a fine, lose your driver’s license for a period of time, or serve probation. But unexpected social stigmas can attach to people who have been convicted of crimes, even misdemeanors. 


A criminal conviction of any type can mark you as unworthy of trust, someone who doesn’t respect rules, or who presents a danger to other workers or tenants.  


The most serious crimes are felonies, with a minimum penalty of one year in jail, and can carry maximum sentences as high as five, fifteen, or thirty years in prison. Some carry life and even death penalties. But, in Florida, a misdemeanor DUI, for example, can follow a convicted driver for the rest of their life. 



Financial Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction in Florida 


As you expect, Florida misdemeanors carry financial penalties imposed by the court, fines, court fees, and the costs incurred for any court-ordered counseling or other expenses, like paying for an ignition interlock device in a DUI case.  


But the cost of a misdemeanor conviction can include added financial costs, like alternate transportation if a driver’s license is suspended, higher insurance costs, and a lower credit rating, making borrowing more expensive.  


A conviction can affect your income by denying  you a promotion or a higher paying job. 


Landlords are permitted to use a prospective tenant’s criminal record as grounds to refuse to rent to them. Bank loan managers are expected to guard against unreasonable risks and a criminal conviction weighs heavily on their decision whether to approve a mortgage application.  


Social and Other Collateral Consequences of Florida Misdemeanor Convictions 


Criminal misdemeanor convictions can impact every facet of your life. If the conviction involved alcohol, you can be perceived by neighbors, friends, and family as someone who should not be trusted driving or supervising children. 


A misdemeanor conviction for a domestic violence offense carries a unique stigma. Women can view a man with a domestic violence conviction as a misogynist, a brute, or a danger to their safety. The stigma surrounding a domestic violence conviction is so pervasive that well-known people are “canceled” because someone discovered they were once convicted of a domestic assault. 


Immigration, Visa, and Travel Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction 


For people who are in the United States on a limited visa or for any non-naturalized person, a misdemeanor conviction can result in possible removal or deportation proceedings, the denial of visa renewal, and become an obstacle to obtaining American citizenship. 


The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is routinely notified about the arrest of any unnaturalized person. Depending on the nature of the charges, the agency will issue a detainer to keep the person in custody. While most such detainees are quickly released, the nature and outcome of the case determine the government’s response. 


Crimes of moral turpitude are deportable offenses, even misdemeanors. And while a single misdemeanor conviction is unlikely to result in deportation, multiple misdemeanor convictions can cause the Department of Justice to seek the removal of a non-naturalized person. 


Avoiding Misdemeanor Convictions 


If you are arrested on misdemeanor charges in Florida you should seek the immediate assistance of an experienced, board-certified criminal defense lawyer near you. In Tampa, Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law is prepared to defend any alleged criminal charge with a commitment to keep your interests a top priority.  


Qualified criminal defense lawyers are very knowledgeable in matters of both substantive and procedural law.  


The best criminal defense is built on the facts of the case and masterfully uses the law to undercut the prosecution’s legal theory. 


Most cases can be resolved by confident advocacy using the law and the facts to negotiate a favorable outcome that benefits the client. When trying a case is in the client’s best interest, skilled criminal defense attorneys who have years of courtroom experience can protect their clients from unjust and unnecessary convictions. 


Florida’s Misdemeanor Pretrial Diversion Program 


To reduce the volume of misdemeanor prosecutions requiring extensive court proceedings, and to ensure that young or first-time offenders are protected from becoming unnecessarily stigmatized with a criminal conviction, Florida created a Misdemeanor Pretrial Diversion Program. 


Eligible defendants enter the program by signing a contract with the state in which they agree to waive their right to a speedy trial. That takes the case off the trial schedule. The contract obliges the accused to comply with a set of sanctions assigned according to the nature of the offense.  


The sanctions could include substance use counseling or treatment, paying restitution to the victim, community service, and other tasks the person must perform during a period of supervision ranging from six to twelve months. 


If the person enrolled in the Misdemeanor Pretrial Diversion Program successfully completes the program, Florida’s state prosecutors will drop the charges against the accused. Those who complete the program avoid a criminal conviction on their public record.  


Read More > The Crucial Role of a Criminal Defense Lawyer 


Get Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers on Your Case 


Fewer than 2% of Florida lawyers are board-certified to practice law in their respective fields.  


While board certification is not required to practice law in Florida, earning the highly respected credential as a “Board Certified Criminal Defense Lawyer” indicates that the attorney has achieved a high degree of proficiency, is exceptionally well prepared to defend their client against any criminal charge in both federal and state court with exceptional skill. 


Ben Stechschulte is a board-certified Florida criminal defense lawyer with a reputation for winning favorable outcomes for his clients. 


Reach out to us for a case review at 813-280-1244 today. We are ready to defend your case.  


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