Misdemeanors are not minor when it comes to the consequences.
Reckless driving is a Class A misdemeanor. It has a maximum jail sentence of one year in jail and a $6,250 fine; PLUS a license suspension of 90 days, which for many people costs them their job. You can also be put on probation.
Last Friday I spent a full day in trial defending a client charged with reckless driving. My client, a CDL holder, would have lost his job, his income. and perhaps the ability to be hired again as driver for another employer if convicted.
In his case a report to law enforcement by the alleged victim led to a charge of reckless driving, to which the District Attorney would not back down. My client was adamant he was not guilty and had the resources to take it to trial. The facts that were alleged were questionable at best but my client was forced to go to trial in order to clear his name.
We put on a solid defense by cross examination of the alleged victim and with good witnesses to show the absurdity of the allegations. The jury was out only 25 minutes and came back with a Not Guilty verdict. My client was so relieved. He kept his job; but oh what a cost!! For a not guilty verdict, I spent hours preparing, a full day of trial and my client had months of emotional turmoil.
For the average law abiding adult, felonies are only something we read about; misdemeanors, however, are very real. It is surprisingly easy to be accused of committing a misdemeanor. Pleading guilty just to get it over with can have negative consequences that are much harsher than the fine and probation the court can assess. Misdemeanors are not minor charges; they must be analyzed for defenses and vigorously fought if you are not guilty.