What is a Misdemeanor

A misdemeanor is a category of charges that are considered to be minor wrongdoings, and these types of charges will often carry the least harsh penalties should a party be convicted. Many crimes can be either defined as a misdemeanor or felony depending upon the individual situations revolving around the event. If a person has multiple convictions of the same type, they may face a harsher felony charge even if all of their previous offenses are considered to be misdemeanors. Also, if crime which is typically considered to be misdemeanor is carried out violently or to a certain extreme, a person may face felony charges.

The most substantial difference that is found when comparing misdemeanors and felonies is the consequences that come along with guilty convictions. For a felony, more time may be served, larger fines may need to be paid, and overall harsher penalties will be given. In the instance of a misdemeanor crime, however, a person will receive a lessened jail sentence that is typically served in a county jail rather than a prison, less fines, and an overall less significant penalty.

When it comes to expungements, misdemeanors can typically be cleared from one’s criminal record. To expunge a crime is to wipe it from a record, and this is often beneficial to those who have been convicted as it will allow them an easier time in gaining employment, housing, or meeting other life goals. A person with a clear criminal record will not have the fear of their past haunting their future, and misdemeanor charges are typically able to be cleared. In cases of felonies, however, expungement is a far more difficult process that will often take years should the conviction be eligible at all.

Penalties For Misdemeanor Crimes

When a person faces a misdemeanor crime conviction, their penalties will typically result in one or more of the following:

  • •          Up to 1 year in a county jail
  • •          Fines of around a $2,000 maximum
  • •          Probation

These penalties will vary on a case by case basis, and not all convictions will carry the same consequences. The harshest misdemeanor penalties will be reserved for crimes that fit, while the easiest will be reserved for the most minor.

Common Types of Misdemeanor Crimes

Many different crimes can be categorized as either a misdemeanor or felony, and having a misdemeanor conviction typically means that the crime carried out was less severe. Some common crimes that often go both ways are assault, indecent exposure, theft, or DUI cases.

If an assault is not found to cause serious bodily harm, or a person’s unknown negligence caused the incident, they will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor offense. Indecent exposure misdemeanor crimes will involve a person who does not have extensive prior convictions and their crime did not involve a minor in any way. In cases of theft, the value of the property being stolen will directly determine if a crime is charged on the misdemeanor or felony level, with higher value thefts carrying felony charges.

Cases of DUI can be a bit more complicated in terms of felony or misdemeanor charges, and a person’s state as well as individual situation should always be taken into account. For some states, any DUI charge after a certain number of prior convictions will be considered a felony rather than a misdemeanor, and DUIs with high blood alcohol levels involved can also cause charges to be raised. However, some DUIs are considered to be misdemeanor situations, and thereby carry lesser consequences.

Gross Misdemeanors

Misdemeanor charges are often categorized into different degrees of severity, and crimes that are particularly severe may carry with them gross misdemeanor charges. These types of charges are given when an act is not severe enough to be considered a felony, but still considered to be on the higher end of the severity scale. Punishments for gross misdemeanor convictions of any kind will carry the harshest possible penalty levels.

What to do if Facing Misdemeanor Charges

If a person is facing misdemeanor charges, they will then face the court system of their area to determine if they will be convicted. During the court process the initial court visitation is called the arraignment, and during this visit a person facing a misdemeanor charge will learn their rights, be asked if they plan to seek the assistance of an attorney, and plead guilty, not guilty, or no-contest to the charges at hand.

It is important for those facing misdemeanor charges to seek an attorney that specializes in the crime for which they are being charged. An experienced attorney will be able to help a person facing misdemeanor charges to build a case which gives them the best possible outcome depending on their individual situation, and this is done by careful preparations and the building of a solid defense. Depending on the crime and the plea, a person may have an available defense that allows their charges to be dropped or lessened to ensure easier punishment, and these defenses are best represented in court through the assistance of an attorney.

While misdemeanor charges will carry much less severe punishments than felonies, and while they are easier to expunge from one’s criminal record, facing a misdemeanor charge is still a serious event.  Misdemeanor conviction can lead a person to experience financial hardship as well as a great deal of inconvenience, making it even more important that an attorney is sought.


What is a Felony

Felonies are crimes often deemed to be more serious in nature, and a guilty conviction of a felony often times results in a person being incarcerated for at least a period of one year. This incarceration, rather than being carried out at a local jail, will be done in a prison, and often this sentence is accompanied by hefty criminal fines.

Having a felony arrest on one’s criminal record may prove to be damaging if the charges go un-expunged.  Criminal background checks are done in a variety of different situations, from applying for a job to renting a home or apartment, and often a felony charge on one’s criminal record will hinder their ability to move on after a sentence is served.

Felony Arrests and Felony Charges

A felony arrest differs from felony charges greatly. When a person is arrested on a suspicion of committing a felony, the arrest is considered to be a felony arrest whether charges have been brought forth or not. Should the person be found innocent of the felony suspected, their criminal record will not be marred with a felony charge.

A felony charge is in place once the court proceedings have begun. The district attorney of a particular state will begin the formal process of charging one with a felony, and they can be determined guilty or not guilty of the felony at the end of their trial.

States will generally use one of two methods when pressing felony charges; one is to bring the case before a grand jury to determine if one is guilty or innocent of the felony, and the other is by a prosecutor’s complaint. These two methods are used to determine if there is enough evidence available to bring the suspect to trial, and if it is determined that there is, a trial will begin.

Felony Expungement

Felony expungement means clearing one’s criminal record of felony charges or a felony arrest. A felony arrest is much easier to have removed from the record than felony charges, but both are possible and the qualifications vary from state to state.

For most states, filing a felony expungement request is something of a process. A request to have a felony charge or arrest expunged must first be filed with a local judge, as some felonies are ineligible, and not all requests are accepted to be determined. Filing one of these requests will often also cost a fee, and a person must make sure that their sentence and fines have been paid as well as served before filing in their state. If a person is placed on probation in regards to their sentence, their probation time must also be completely fulfilled without violations before a request may be successfully filed and determined.

Felony expungement often also involves a waiting period after a sentence has been served, but this will vary from state to state. This waiting period can be as great as 10 years, and a person may find themselves ineligible to have their records cleared before this period of time has passed.

The likelihood of a felony being expunged is directly linked to the seriousness of the crime. Nonviolent or less serious felonies are the most likely to be successfully cleared from one’s criminal record, while violent or sexually based crimes are often more difficult or ineligible altogether. Although these crimes will vary on a state basis, they are most commonly:

  • •          Felonies involving a minor
  • •          Rape
  • •          Sexual battery
  • •          Corruption of a minor
  • •          Child pornography

Reducing Felony Charges To Misdemeanor Charges

It is possible to have felony charges reduced to misdemeanor charges if one is equipped with the right lawyer for representation. Not only are the sentences and fines for misdemeanor charges less severe than that of a felony, but misdemeanors are also significantly easier to have expunged.

The crimes that are most likely to be reduced to misdemeanor charges are often deemed as “wobblers” by a variety of states, and this means that they wobble between the lines of being a felony or a misdemeanor. These crimes are mostly nonviolent, and with the help of the right lawyer for representation, it is not uncommon for these “wobbler” charges to be reduced.

A misdemeanor typically looks better than a felony on one’s criminal record, and misdemeanor charges will often come with less harsh sentences. Where a felony charge will typically warrant a year or more in prison, a felony charge brought down to a misdemeanor conviction will usually result in time spent in a local jail facility.

Hiring a Lawyer for Felony Cases

It is always recommended that any person facing felony charges hire a skilled lawyer to assist them with their case. This lawyer will be able to assess the situation from a law standpoint to determine the likelihood of reduced charges, expungement, and a sentence that is in the best interest of his or her client.

For felony expungement filings, it’s important to seek out a who lawyer specializes in having cases successfully expunged. Consulting with one of our lawyers will give one the information they need to determine if their charge is worth the effort and cost of filing for an expungement. These lawyers will also often help a client in filing for this complex procedure, making the process much easier and more understandable for the person wanting their criminal record cleared.


Beat a Speeding Ticket Defense in Delaware

In the state of Delaware, speeding on the public roads is serious. Repeat offenders could lose their driver’s license indefinitely and first-time offenders could face a stiff fine or even jail time. A speeding ticket defense is something that too many people take lightly. They think that they can just go to the scheduled court session, plead their case to the court and get a reduced sentence. Too many people find out that traffic court is not the walk in the park that they thought it was.

When you stand before a judge in traffic court, you are standing before someone who has been trained to punish speeders as much as possible. If you have too many tickets, then you may find your driving privileges revoked and you will need to go through a long process just to get them back. In the meantime, you will have to find another way to get around that fits into your schedule and everyone else’s schedule.

An arrest due to speeding can lead to consequences that the driver may have never thought of. Some of the more immediate consequences include:

  • A heavy fine
  • Loss of license
  • Higher insurance premiums

What if you lose your license due to speeding? Not only is the process to get it back long and involved, but you will have to make plans to get around without the ability to drive. You will have to find a new way to get to work, new ways to go shopping for food, a different way to pick the kids up from school and a whole new way to get around on the weekends.

The problem is that too many people in Delaware take their driving privileges for granted. Once people get a license, they think that they will always have it. That is not true at all; especially if you are a speeding repeat offender. But if you take the time to hire a good attorney from the very beginning, then you have given yourself a good chance at beating the ticket and staying out of long-term trouble.

The people who feel that they can just make a few phone calls and their speeding ticket will go away are always shocked when those phone calls yield no results at all. Instead of wasting time trying to call in favors you probably do not have, your best bet is to contact an experienced defense attorney right away and let him take care of your ticket in a legal and efficient manner.

There is a lot more to a speeding ticket defense in the state of Delaware than most people may realize. The first thing that your attorney has to do is determine whether or not you have any outstanding tickets that have turned into warrants. It is common for people to lose track of these kinds of things and finding them out when you are standing in front of a judge is not the best time. This includes parking tickets or any other kind of legal challenge that could cause a problem with your defense.

Your attorney will work with you to straighten out these other issues before going to court and addressing your speeding ticket. It is hard to appreciate the comprehensive nature of good legal representation until you have been arrested in front of a judge for warrants that you had forgotten about. A good defense lawyer takes care of all of the details before getting on to the challenge of dealing with your speeding ticket.

If you have had multiple speeding tickets in the past, then you need to hire an attorney to help you with your most recent one. Even if you have taken care of all of your past tickets, they can still come back to haunt you in open court. An experienced lawyer will know how to present your case in such a way that your past indiscretions may not even be an issue. But if you do not have the necessary experience in arguing speeding ticket cases, then you will not be able to keep your past from affecting your future.

Insurance premiums are a huge consideration for people with speeding tickets. Your attorney will know ways to try and change your speeding ticket into some form of ticket that will not cause your insurance to skyrocket. Repeat speeding offenders will often find it difficult to keep car insurance as many insurance companies drop drivers who rack up consecutive speeding tickets.

You need insurance to be on the road in the state of Delaware. Without insurance you cannot legally register a vehicle and if you are in an accident without insurance then you could be facing a large civil lawsuit. The cascade of problems that come from losing your insurance due to speeding tickets would be just one more thing you would have to deal with on your driving record.

Protecting your rights and your financial future are just two good reasons to hire a defense attorney the moment that you get a speeding ticket. There are several consequences to a speeding ticket that could cost you a lot of money and aggravation in the future. If you hire a good defense attorney, then he will know the procedures to follow to try and lessen the impact of the ticket and help avoid all of the negative problems that can occur when drivers in Delaware get pulled over for speeding.


Hockessin Man Arrested After Police Follow Trail of Child Porn Online

A Hockessin man was arrested Tuesday by members of the state Child Predator Task Force and accused of distributing child pornography after an investigation led officers to his computer.

Daniel Ryan Cooke, 26, of Michelangelo Court, was charged with 25 counts of dealing in child pornography, said Jason Miller, spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office.

Cooke, who was employed during the 2012-2013 school year as an assistant junior varsity soccer coach for the Hornets at the Tatnall School, was being held in the Vaughn Correctional Institution after he failed to post $1.5 million bail.

An undercover investigation into file-sharing programs containing child pornography led officers to search Cooke’s home early Tuesday.

Detectives seized several computers and assorted other media and electronic devices and took Cooke into custody for questioning.

A forensic review of the seized items revealed several files of child pornography that included one video of an elementary-age girl engaged in sex acts with an adult male, Miller said.

Cooke told investigators that he built his computer that was password protected and acknowledged downloading a file-sharing program to acquire child pornography, police said in court records.

“He admitted that he has been doing this since approximately 2002,” when he would have been 15 years old, according to court records.

Cooke told detectives that he downloaded about 100 images of child pornography on Monday.

According to court records, the videos contained images of “young females from 7-years-old up to 17-years-old having vaginal, anal and oral sex with adults.”

Mike Morgan, a spokesman for the Tatnall School, said Cooke was hired in the fall to coach the boys junior varsity soccer team and had no contact with him since the season ended on Nov. 1.

“That’s not a full-time position, just in the afternoon for a couple hours and game time,” Morgan said.

Prior to hiring Cooke for the part-time position, the school conducted a background check and “it came out clean,” he said.

Source: Delaware Online


Driver Charged with DUI, Endangering a Child and Other Offenses After Routine Traffic Stop

A driver was charged with driving under the influence, endangering a child and other offenses after a routine traffic stop in Harrington, police said today.

When officers patrolling U.S. 13 near Midway Shopping Center stopped Helen M. Zerrad, 36, of Felton, on Jan. 31 for failing to obey a traffic device, Harrington Police Lt. Earl K. Brode said, “she appeared to be under the influence of narcotics.”

The officers also found a 13-year-old on the floor of the back seat area, he said.

Zerrad was given field sobriety tests and taken to Milford Memorial Hospital to have blood drawn for further testing, Brode said.

She then was taken to Harrington Police Department, where she was charged – in addition to the traffic violation – with driving under the influence, endangering the welfare of a child while driving under the influence, failure to carry proof of insurance and failure to have motor vehicle occupants in seating positions and using proper restraints.

She was arraigned by video through Justice of the Peace Court 2 in Lewes and released on $1,701 unsecured bail.

http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20130205/NEWS01/130205005/Traffic-stop-leads-DUI-other-charges-Harrington-


Delaware State Police Investigating Crash with Vehicle and Man Rollerblading

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.-The Delaware State Police is investigating a crash where a man who was rollerblading was seriously injured on Saturday night.

A preliminary investigation suggests that a man was rollerblading on the shoulder of westbound Rehoboth Avenue just west of Church Street. Police said he was hit by a vehicle, which continued traveling westward after the collision.

The victim was transported to Beebe Hospital and then flown to Christiana Hospital, where he was admitted in serious condition with injuries to his head and torso.

The Delaware State Police is asking anyone who may have any information in reference to this incident to contact the Collision Reconstruction Unit at Troop 7 at (302) 644-5020 extension 117.

Citizens may also provide a tip by texting keyword “DSP” plus your message to 274637 (CRIMES), or through lines maintained by Delaware Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333. Information can also be submitted through the internet at www.tipsubmit.com.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a very serious crime in Delaware. If you are facing charges such as these call The Law Office of John R. Garey to discuss your rights. You can also email the firm here.


Harrington Police Charge Magnolia Man with Fourth Driving Under the Influence

Harrington police charged a Magnolia man with a fourth driving under the influence offense, authorities reported today.

Joseph D. Pierce, 54, was stopped Saturday by officers on U.S. 13 for a traffic violation, Harrington Lt. Earl K. Brode said.

He said the officers detected an odor of alcohol coming from Pierce’s car, and a computer check determined Pierce’s driver’s license was revoked and he had three previous DUI arrests.

Brode said Pierce was given a field sobriety test and taken into custody on the DUI and related charges.

He was arraigned and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution in lieu of 3,600 secured bond, Brode said.

 


Harrington Man Arrested with Fourth Drunken-Driving Offense

A 46-year-old Harrington man was arrested and charged Wednesday with his fourth drunken-driving offense after being stopped for a traffic violation, police said today.

Thomas J. Lepera was charged with his 4th DUI offense, failure to have insurance identification in his possession, failure to have either his driver’s license or registration in his possession, two counts of failing to remain in a single lane and failing to signal a turn, said Lt. Earl Brode.

Officers stopped Lepera on Commerce Street for a traffic violation, and when they walked up to his car, they noticed the odor of alcohol coming from it, Brode said.

When officers tried to administer sobriety field tests to Lepera, he refused to take them and refused to blow into the intoxilyzer, Brode said.

Lepera was taken to Milford Memorial Hospital, where he had his blood drawn, and was then taken back to Harrington police headquarters to be charged.

A computer check revealed that Lepera had three prior drunken-driving convictions, Brode said.

He was committed to the Sussex Correctional Institution after failing to post $4,006 secured bail.

Syndicated from Delaware Online


Dover Man Charged with Child Sexual Abuse and Other Offenses by City Police

A Dover man has been charged with child sexual abuse and other offenses, city police said Wednesday.

Some of the charges against Thomas Spicer, 40, of the first block of Par Haven Drive, stem from allegations he threatened the child with a knife and forced the child to consume drugs and alcohol, Dover Police Capt. Tim Stump said.

Investigation determined that the assaults occurred in 2010-11 in a home in the 800 block of Woodcrest Turn in Dover, Stump said.

Police did not disclose how or when the allegations surfaced, or release other details of the allegations.

Spicer, arrested Tuesday, was charged with four counts of sexual abuse of a child by a person of trust, unlawful sexual contact with a child younger than 12 years old, aggravated menacing, terroristic threatening, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of unlawfully administering drugs.

He was committed to Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna after failing to post $112,000 secured bail.

Syndicated from The News Journal


Two Millsboro Men Indicted on Two Dozen Counts Each of Dealing in Pornography

Two Millsboro men were indicted last month on two dozen counts each of dealing in pornography, authorities said marking the beginning of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Harry K. Roche, 42, and Mark A. Stramacchia, 49, who both lived together in the 200 block of Main St., were arrested separately by members of the Delaware Child Predator Task Force.

Roche — who was convicted of using a computer to unlawfully depict a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act in 2004 — is a registered sex offender. He was charged with 24 counts of dealing in child pornography following a Jan. 31 raid on his home during which police seized multiple computers, a cell phone, storage devices and other digital evidence, said Jason Miller, spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office.

During a Jan. 31 raid of the apartment, officers confiscated two external hard drives that were later connected to a second occupant in the home.

Stramacchia, who was arrested Feb. 12, was charged with 25 counts of dealing in child pornography.

The pair was indicted on the charges March 18 by a Sussex County Grand Jury.

“Every time an image or video of child pornography is exchanged and viewed, it re-victimizes the child,” said state Attorney General Beau Biden.

The state’s Child Predator Task Force, now in its sixth year of operation, was formed to protect kids from sexual abuse at the hands of predators who use the internet and other technology to solicit and exploit children.

Investigators from Delaware and law enforcement agencies across the country submit copies of seized child pornography videos and images to the National Center for missing and Exploited Children for identification of child victims.

“It takes the continued vigilance and specialized investigative techniques of our Child Predator Task Force to track down predators who would harm kids,” Biden said.

Roche remains jailed in the Vaughn Correctional Institution in lieu of $600,000 secured bail.

Stramacchia is being held in the Sussex Correctional Institution after failing to post $250,000 secured bail.

Syndicated from The News Journal