Criminal charges are almost always serious. While some offenses are misdemeanors, others are felonies. Misdemeanors often carry fewer penalties, while felonies have stronger punishments, depending on the crime. If you are charged with a crime, one of the first things that happens is a first appearance. The judge will tell you what you are charged with, and you will need to enter a plea. The plea you enter will make a difference in the way your case progresses. The plea you make could have a long-term impact on your life and the lives of your loved ones. It is advisable to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney before you enter a plea.