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A misdemeanor charge is not as serious as a felony, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t defend your side of the story. Misdemeanors can still be punished with fines and prison or jail time, which can impact your relationships, school or work.

There are several kinds of misdemeanors. The first is known as a petty misdemeanor. Usually, the fine for this charge is no more than $500 and results in less than a half year in jail. If you’re accused of a petty misdemeanor, you may be able to defend yourself and have the charges dropped or the penalties lessened. Some alternatives might be to attend a rehabilitation program or to perform community service.

Gross misdemeanors differ as they are slightly more serious than a petty misdemeanor. Ordinary misdemeanors fall in the middle of these two other classes. A gross misdemeanor may also be a “wobbler,” in some cases, which means that it could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the preference of the prosecution and judge. When the prosecution or judge decides on the route to take, all the consequences will change to those required of either a misdemeanor or felony for that type of crime.

If your case in Maryland is dropped or you’re found innocent, a certified finding of factual innocence can be provided to you to give to employers or others who may question your criminal history. Your attorney can request this certificate for you at court when your case is dismissed, so you can have the information you need to show that you have a clear record.