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Why college students can't underestimate misdemeanor charges

In a matter of only a few weeks, thousands of young people across the state of Tennessee will be heading back to their respective college campuses -- including several right here in Clarksville -- for the start of the fall semester.

While the months ahead will see many hours spent in classrooms, libraries and laboratories, they will also see many hours spent hanging out with friends. While this is certainly a vital part of the college experience, it's important that young people take care to remain not just responsible, but also law abiding during their down time.

While this probably seems obvious to most college students, there is nevertheless still an unfortunate tendency among many to dismiss the possible criminal consequences of their actions in the heat of the moment or while intoxicated. In fact, many think that being charged with a misdemeanor is nothing about which to become too concerned.

This is a mistake, as having a misdemeanor on your record could potentially jeopardize everything from enrollment and financial aid to graduate school and even future employment.

This is not to mention, of course, the possible punishments, which include:

  • Class A misdemeanor: Those convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, such as possessing up to a half of an ounce of marijuana, could be sentenced to up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Class B misdemeanor: Those convicted of a Class B misdemeanor, such as reckless driving, could be sentenced to up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
  • Class C misdemeanor: Those convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, such as public intoxication, could be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $50.

While this information is not meant to frighten young people unnecessarily, it should nevertheless serve to underscore why they must take these matters seriously. Indeed, those who find themselves facing misdemeanor -- or felony charges -- must strongly consider consulting with an experienced legal professional who can guide them through the process, protect their rights and explore all available options.

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Mathis, Bates & Klinghard PLLC
412 Franklin Street
Clarksville, TN 37040

Phone: 931-444-3153
Fax: 931-278-6642
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