Did you go to Louisiana for Mardi Gras and up with a hangover and a misdemeanor or two? It’s generally not the end of the world, but you will need to defend yourself against excessive charges and hopefully get the charges expunged or sealed later on.
These are a few misdemeanor charges that are common during Mardi Gras:
1. Public Intoxication
2. Disturbing the peace
3. Indecent exposure
4. Lewd conduct
5. Open container
6. Resisting arrest
7. Disorderly conduct
8. Simple assault and battery
9. Using profanity
Usually you will be charged with several misdemeanors for a single event. For example, you could arrested and charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. It is always best to fight these charges if you are innocent, because even a misdemeanor conviction can have negative long-term social and economic effects for you.
After You Are Arrested, this Is what Happens Next
This is how the process usually works in Louisiana – depending on the charge, you can be arrested and taken to municipal or parish jail. Bail will usually be a minimal amount like a couple hundred dollars, or you could even be released on your own recognizance if you have a clean record. Before they let you out, you will sign a document saying you will come back for the arraignment. If you are pleading not guilty, a trial will be set, and you will need to gather witnesses and evidence in your defense. Misdemeanor trials are held in front of a judge, not a jury. At trial, you and your criminal defense attorney will present your evidence and the police officer who made the arrest will testify. Then the judge will render a decision.
Help for Visitors Who Do Not Live in Louisiana
If you are an out of town visitor to Mardi Gras, it is sometimes possible, depending on the parish, for your lawyer to appear at the arraignment for you. That way, you will only have to come back for the trial. The Law Office of Thomas V. Alonzo can make arrangements to defend you if you live outside of Louisiana. We can have discovery forwarded to you, plead not guilty on your behalf at the arraignment, make arrangement for witnesses to attend the trial, and gather evidence if needed.
Keeping the Misdemeanor Charges Off Your Record
All of the above charges are eligible for expungement in Louisiana under article 894 if you are a first time offender. The charges will not be automatically sealed even if your charge is dropped – you will still need to file for an expungement. Remember no matter what the charge, if the state does not pursue the charge – i.e. dismisses the charge — you have an automatic right to an expungement. But even if the state refuses to pursue the charges, you still need to have the arrest expunged.
Whether you are a resident or a visitor to Louisiana, we can help you with your misdemeanor criminal defense and possible expungement. It would be a shame to let a night or weekend of fun cause problems for you later on. Call us with any questions – the initial consultation will not cost you anything.