Being arrested for a crime is a confusing and terrifying time. Often the first question on a person’s mind after being arrested is whether or not they are going to jail and if so, for how long. This is not an unnatural concern, especially because most individuals do not know how the criminal justice system works or the penalties for crimes. Most statutes will read that misdemeanor offenses carry a penalty of up to one year in jail – which is even more terrifying for first-time offenders to read.
In most cases, first time arrests for misdemeanor offenses rarely lead to jail time – but it can happen.
Why Jail Time Is Rare
If a person has never been in trouble with the law before and they are arrested for a misdemeanor offense – such as assault, OUI, fleeing the scene of an accident or drug possession – there is limited chance they will be sentenced to jail time even if they are convicted of that crime.
Jail sentences for first-time misdemeanors are there to use at a judge’s discretion and a judge will only impose those sentences in extreme cases or when there are specific situations present that warrant the use of jail time.
By meeting with a criminal defense attorney, you can often get an idea of whether or not you are facing jail time and if so, how much. Your attorney may also be able to estimate how much time you will be on probation or if any alcohol/drug treatment programs may be required.
When Is a Jail Sentence Possible?
There are instances where your misdemeanor could carry a jail sentence. If you have previous offenses or you were on probation at the time of the offense, then it is much more likely a judge will impose a jail sentence. Certain violations can also lead to jail time – even if the crime is a non-violent one. For example, operating a vehicle while on a suspended license after a previous OUI conviction carries a mandatory jail sentence that cannot be avoided.
Also, more serious first-time offenses, such as felony crimes or a crime where someone is severely injured have a higher probability of a jail sentence than non-violent crimes.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney First
Before assuming your offense carries no jail time, speak with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can assess the facts of your case and help determine how likely it is that you will be sentenced to jail. Your attorney may also be able to negotiate with the district attorney’s office on your behalf to reduce the jail sentence or receive probation in lieu of jail time.
Having adequate representation is the only way to ensure limited or no jail time. Attempting to negotiate with the district attorney’s office on your own or representing yourself in court often leads to harsher punishments than if you have someone that understands Massachusetts statutes representing your case.
Contact Keegan Law Regarding Your Misdemeanor Arrest
If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor, contact Keegan Law today. We can assess your case with no obligation and estimate if your misdemeanor carries potential jail time. Contact us online with your questions or call (617) 799-7644 now to schedule a consultation.