Just a Little Pet Peeve

It really bugs me when my clients remind me that their case is "just a misdemeanor."

Wait! What? I thought I was assigned to the Capital Punishment bureau! A misdemeanor? How did this pesky misdemeanor sneak in here?

This reminder is usually immediately followed by the reminder that the case should be dismissed. As in, "It's just a misdemeanor, why don't they just drop it?" Oh, yes, the case is just punishable by up to a year in jail, that's synonymous with dismissal. Gee, why don't I just go tell the judge right now.

"Judge, excuse me, my client just pointed out to me that this case is just a misdemeanor. So, um... no problem, it's just dismissed, right?"

And, to be honest, I sometimes use the words "just a misdemeanor." But I have cases that are felonies! To me, your case can be "just a misdemeanor." But you shouldn't have so many open felony cases, that your pending misdemeanor case can't be of the utmost importance to you.

Because, the truth is, the prosecutor assigned to your case most likely handles only misdemeanors. So, to him, your misdemeanor is one of the most important cases he has. It's like a murder case to a prosecutor who only handles murder cases. And, that prosecutor has to go to trial and win a few misdemeanors before he ever gets to move on to the bigger cases. So, you'd better believe he's not going to just dismiss your case.

And you face up to a year in jail. So unless you can honestly say the words "just a year," then you can just stop saying the words, "just a misdemeanor."


  1. You're JUST a public defender. What do you know?

  2. Sometimes I wish my clients would say, "it's just a misdemeanor." In Georgia, speeding tickets are classified as misdemeanors and carry up to a year in a jai and some clients treat it as if it's a fucking death penalty case.

    Dude, it's a speeding ticket. Pay it and leave, so I can deal with my "real" clients.

  3. I bet a real lawyer could get it dismissed.


  4. Actually, you're JUST a public pretender. Don't you just have to take that 6 week course from the technical college to become a public defender?

  5. And sometimes JUST a misdemeanor involves such things as JUST throttling somebody, or JUST throwing a heavy vase at someone, or JUST telling someone you're going to kill her.

    (Sorry, every once in a while my prosecutorial self-righteousness rears its ugly head. I try to squelch but it gets the better of me from time to time.)

  6. On a different note: Did you see OK Go on the mtv video music awards? I didn't but there is an article at http://www.nytimes.com about their performance, but no win.

  7. In my neck of the woods, sometimes people would rather have a felony conviction than the misdemeanor. Misdemeanor time can mean up to 365 days to serve. The lowest level felony can be served out with no parole but with good time credit in about 7.5 months. Plus you're not stuck in county the whole time. Alas, the whole stigma of being a convicted felon doesn't mean much compared to the extra 4.5 months to serve.

  8. I'm guilty of saying "it" when dealing with multiple felonies certified for trial, I'm not worried about the misdemeanors.

    My personal favorite though, is the client that believes that other states' or even another county's conviction "doesn't count".

  9. OMG! *squeal* From one big city PD to another--I had 8 cases on today. I heard this 5 times. The other phrases I heard were:

    "What does my record have to do with anything? That's in the past."
    Unfortunately for him, the "past" was two weeks prior to this arrest. :)

    "Bail? Jail? But it's just _______
    (fill in the blank with your choice of your favorite C felony weight controlled substance here)" Said by a guy with 3 prior sales.

    "Maybe I'd be better off with a REAL lawyer."

    If/when I ever go private, those three words, "A Real Lawyer" are going underneath my name. Hell, maybe I'll just ditch my name and hand out cards that say "A Real Lawyer" on them.

    However, it's been at least 3 weeks since I've been accused of working for the DA and/or the judge, and about 6 weeks since I was last informed I got paid for every plea I take.

    Excuse while I go find the colleague who has been pocketing the $$ I've been getting for taking all those pleas...:)