A felony offense in California is one that may be punished by at least one year in prison. Generally, the more serious or severe a felony is, the longer the potential prison sentence will be. Prosecutors and judges are sometimes more lenient with first-time offenders. A first-time offender is someone who has no prior criminal history when they are convicted. Prosecutors might be more willing to offer more generous plea deals, and judges might be more inclined to impose a more lenient sentence, but once a defendant is convicted, they face time behind bars. Even a first-time felony offender may go to jail in Los Angeles. Read on to learn more about the potential jail time for first-time felony offenders in LA from Los Angeles felony defense lawyer Eric D. Davis, Attorney at Law.
Penalties for Felonies in Los Angeles
The penalties for felonies are unique to each offense. Rather than assign penalties to broader categories of felonies, such as first, second, or third-degree felonies, each offense has three different penalty tiers in Los Angeles and the rest of California. Typically, these are considered low, middle, and high penalties. For example, robbery of the first degree is a felony punishable by either 3, 4, or 6 years in prison. A judge will typically sentence a defendant to the middle tier. However, if there are aggravating factors that make the offense worse or especially heinous, the judge may impose the higher tier. Likewise, if there are mitigating factors that reduce culpability, the judge can impose the lower tier.
In any case, all felonies are punishable by prison time, some more than others. The fact that a defendant is a first-time offender does not relieve them of a prison sentence; however, it might be considered a mitigating factor and the prison term ultimately imposed may be of the lower tier. If a first-time offender is convicted of a felony, they will almost certainly serve time in jail or prison. However, under certain circumstances, a convicted defendant can avoid jail time. Being placed on probation or in a diversionary program can help first-time felony offenders avoid jail time. It can be essential to hire a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to help guide you to get the best possible outcome.
Are There Programs for First Time Offenders in Los Angeles?
In Los Angeles, there are come pretrial diversion programs for defendants to help them avoid jail time. Not all programs require that a defendant be a first-time offender, but it might make a judge more willing to allow you into the program. Different programs have different requirements for eligibility. If you do not meet all the requirements of any program, you will not be eligible for diversion and must serve your prison term. Several programs available to felony offenders are listed below.
Diversion for Defendants with Cognitive Disabilities
Defendants with cognitive disabilities may be eligible for diversion. Generally, a defendant charged with either a felony or misdemeanor may be eligible; however, certain felony offenders will be excluded. For example, defendants charged with murder, rape, or another more severe felony will not be eligible. Eligibility for this program depends on whether the defendant is eligible for treatment at a regional facility for patients with cognitive disabilities. If the defendant is ineligible for treatment, they are ineligible for this type of diversion program. An eligible offender may enter the program for up to two years.
Diversion for Defendants with Mental Disorders
To be eligible for this type of diversion, a defendant must meet specific criteria. The defendant must show evidence that they have a mental disorder identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The defendant’s mental disorder must have played a significant role in the commission of the offense they are charged with. A mental health expert would find the defendant’s mental health symptoms would respond to treatment. The defendant must agree to enter the diversion program, waive their right to a trial, and comply with treatment. Finally, the court must believe the defendant will not pose a safety risk to the public. A Diamond Bar criminal defense lawyer can help you put your best foot forward with strong defense in the courtroom.
Deferred Entry of Judgment
A deferred entry of judgment may be in order for defendants who are convicted of felony or misdemeanor repeat theft offenses. Defendants may be recommended to a deferred entry of judgment program by the state or county prosecutor. Entering such a program usually entails completing any necessary treatment or education courses, completing community service, and supervising the defendant. This program is reserved only for repeat theft offenders. Our San Bernardino criminal defense lawyers can provide more information on this process.
Primary Caregiver Diversion
This diversion program is designed to keep offenders who are the primary caregivers for a minor child. The defendant must be the primary caregiver and their absence would be a detriment to their child. The defendant must also consent to be placed in the program, waive their rights to a trial, and not pose a public safety risk. Felony offenders may be eligible so long as their felony was not extremely serious or a violent felony. This program is meant to keep parents at home with their children instead of sending them to prison.
Can I Get Probation Instead of Prison in Los Angeles?
If you are ineligible for a diversion program, you may still qualify for probation. Many offenses, including felony offenses, allow defendants to be sentenced to probation in lieu of prison or jail time. Depending on the nature of your charges, a first-time felony offender is likely to receive probation if the relevant criminal statutes allow. Your probation’s terms and conditions will be determined by the court and based on your unique circumstances. As long as you adhere to your probation requirements, a first-time felony offender will not be sent to prison. However, if you violate probation, you risk being re-arrested and sent to prison to complete your sentence. Hire a Los Angeles probation violation lawyer if this is the case.
Contact Our Los Angeles Felony Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know is a first-time offender charged with a felony in Los Angeles, please contact our Riverside criminal defense lawyer for help. Call Eric D. Davis, Attorney at Law, at (909) 861-8075 for a free legal consultation regarding your case.