What to do if I’ve been charged with 3 criminal misdemeanor offenses?

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What to do if I’ve been charged with 3 criminal misdemeanor offenses?

Minor in Possession of alcohol; Possession of fake ID; and Buying alcohol with fake ID. I have no priors and today was my initial appearance. I pleaded not guilty and was appointed a trial date. Do you think I should ask for a public defender at my next appearance?

Asked on October 30, 2012 under Criminal Law, Arizona

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you next setting is a "trial setting", then you need to get with the court and ask for a public defender prior to trial.  "Trial setting" usually implies that they are about to empanel a jury to decide if you are guilty of these offenses or not.  Even though these are not the most serious of crimes (being they are misdemeanors), any conviction can have an impact on a young person's life.  Employers, scholarship committees, and colleges will all have access to your conviction history.  If you are ever "in the running" for something, this conviction could be the deal breaker for you.

You need to contact the court and see if you can get a public defender.  You may also be able to find a criminal defense attorney that can represent you for a reasonable fee.  Considering your age, you need to explore all of your options before your trial.  Some jurisdictions have diversion programs where you essentially complete a probation and they dismiss your charges.  An attorney in your area can help find other sentencing alternatives in your jurisidiction that will reduce the negative effect of the charges.


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