Columbia Criminal Lawyer

Criminal charges, by their very nature, carry potential incarceration, fines, and even beyond that the stigma of having a criminal record. This can affect careers, lives, and even residency. It is important to have an attorney by your side to explain the intricacies of the process, to help you navigate the various steps involved in responding to charges, and to defend you to the full extent of the law. An experienced Columbia criminal attorney can help you minimize the damage and fight the case to get an acquittal if possible.

Misdemeanor vs Felony

While the elements of both a misdemeanor and a felony are quite similar, the nature of the offense is very different. A misdemeanor is generally characterized as a lower-level offense. Examples of a misdemeanor that warrant the attention of a criminal lawyer in Columbia may include:

  • Minor drug possession
  • Simple bar fight
  • Disorderly conduct
  • A driving charge

Felonies are considered to be more serious. They may involve cases where there is violence, where  guns are involved, or when someone is seriously hurt as a result of the altercation. The elements are different based upon each charge regardless of whether it is a felony or misdemeanor. Generally, if the severity of the incident or allegation is stronger or heavier, it would evolve as a felony.

Seriousness of Charges

The prosecutors of Columbia county work hard to discourage the proliferation of misdemeanors and felonies in their jurisdiction. Therefore, they take any charges seriously. Because of this, when they are dealing with a misdemeanor, they prosecute it seriously but when they are dealing with a potential felony,  they will be sure to prosecute especially vigorously. Ultimately, the procedures are completely different depending on the charges, and whether they are being categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony which makes it important that an experienced Columbia criminal attorney is contacted.

Facing Criminal Charges

It is important that defendants know they are entitled to an attorney and should get one immediately. There is an old saying, “An attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.” It illustrates that even an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the courts, who actually knows the procedure, knows the process, and may even know the prosecutors and judges still should find someone else to represent them, to look out for them, and be their spokesperson.

This is to protect them and help them and the earlier they get started the better it is. Evidence gets lost. Sometimes, evidence is not preserved. There are certain deadlines that must be complied with. If someone does not comply with those, they can lose opportunities to defend, fight the case, and explore certain options.

Common Misconceptions

It is a common misconception that contacting a lawyer shows consciousness of guilt, when in fact it is quite the contrary. Prosecutors, police officers, and investigators are not there to help the defendant. They are adversaries, and just as they have teams of people to help them build their case, so too must the individual charged and being investigated. And the best person to do that is an experienced, local attorney. Such an attorney will know the intricacies of the local laws, and can help a defendant contest or refute the allegations.

External Influences

Typically minor citations do not really have much influence or prevalence in criminal cases. But there are some things unique to Columbia that do not exist elsewhere. For example, the Merriweather Post Pavillion, a popular music venue, sometimes has attendees removed because of disorderly conduct. Oftentimes, minors attempt to purchase alcohol, which then leads to underage drinking charges. In Columbia, those are charges where one must consider the fact that there is a venue that has music and other talents. That is not the case in lot of other jurisdictions that do not have these venues.

How An Attorney Can Help

Having a criminal record can affect someone for years to come whether it is a year, 10, or even 30 years from now. Even a misdemeanor conviction could label somebody as a criminal. Worse yet, depending on the nature of the charge, even with a misdemeanor theft charge, for example, someone would be considered a thief for the rest of their life. If someone has an alcohol charge, they can be considered an alcoholic. With drug possession, they are considered a drug addict. We want to avoid these convictions, if at all possible, because even the misdemeanors can be stigmatic over the long term. An experienced Columbia criminal attorney will work to do just that.