You made a mistake or a misjudgment. You broke into and entered someone else's property, and now you are being charged with breaking and entering. You have a court date, but your head is swimming. What do you do, and what do these charges mean? Here's what you need to know.
Breaking and entering is a misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor is a lesser sort of crime that won't affect your ability to vote, sit on a jury, or obtain a license of a firearm. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you can be assigned either a fine or less than a year of jail time. Obviously this is not great news, but having a misdemeanor on your record won't have nearly the impact on your life that being charged with a felony will. Some employers may turn you down because you have this crime on your record, but you won't be outright barred from certain industries or unemployable.
If this is your first charge, you can probably get it dropped.
Judges tend to be pretty lenient when it comes to misdemeanor charges as long as you do not have a prior record. As long as you have a good lawyer to defend you, there is a pretty good chance you can get the charges dropped. You might have to do some community service as a part of the agreement, and you will probably have to pay restitution to the person whose home or business you broke and entered, too.
You do need a lawyer.
You probably have seen television shows where people represent themselves in court. But while this is technically legal, it is a very bad idea. A criminal defense lawyer will know exactly how to formulate a defense for your case based on the exact evidence against you. They have have connections with the district attorney or judge that give you a better chance of being acquitted or found not guilty.
When you hire an attorney, make sure you are honest with them. They can best defend you if you tell them exactly what happened when the crime was committed, even though doing so may be a bit embarrassing.
Being charged with breaking and entering is stressful, but it is not the end of the world. Especially if you do not have a prior criminal record, a good criminal defense attorney can probably get the charges dismissed or reduced so they do not affect your future.