Criminal charges of any kind need to be handled with great care. The decisions you make during criminal proceedings could affect the rest of your life. Unfortunately, many people charged with crimes like misdemeanors have no idea what they should do about their charges. Many are left confused and scared about what the future holds. Our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, Eric D. Davis, Attorney at Law, can help you take control of your case and get your life back. Read on to learn what to do if you are charged with a misdemeanor in Los Angeles.
Hiring an Attorney for Your Misdemeanor Charges in Los Angeles
If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense in Los Angeles, your very first step should be to seek out legal counsel. Many defendants are hesitant to hire an attorney because they are afraid of the legal fees involved. However, hiring an attorney should be done sooner rather than later. You can hire an attorney before you are ever formally charged. Your charges will not be official until your arraignment and you will want to have an attorney by your side for everything leading up to that point.
Your attorney can analyze the charges against you and the circumstances surrounding your arrest and subsequent questioning by the police. These are crucial steps in the criminal justice process and any mistakes could be the basis for a defense. For example, suppose the police did not inform you of your Miranda rights, executed an invalid search warrant, or executed an unlawful arrest. In that case, your attorney can use that information to prevent unlawful evidence from being used against you.
The sooner you hire your attorney, the better. By waiting to find a Diamond Bar criminal defense lawyer, you put the lawyer at a great disadvantage. Not only do they have to contend with the police and prosecutors, but they also have to catch up with your case and review everything that had happened before they were hired.
Understanding the Penalties for Misdemeanor Charges in Los Angeles
With your attorney’s help, you should begin to familiarize yourself with the potential penalties that lie ahead. Misdemeanors in California tend to fall into two distinct categories. These categories are standard misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors.
A standard misdemeanor in California may be punishable by no more than 6 months in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. A gross misdemeanor is more serious and may be punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a fine of up $1,000, or both. Misdemeanor offenses are generally less severe and are usually punished with less than a year in jail. However, some offenses are known as “wobbler” offenses and can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies.
If you face wobbler charges, you will need to work with your Riverside criminal defense attorney to prevent your charges from being upgraded to felonies. Felony charges are much more severe and may be met with longer prison terms and higher fines. Some wobblers can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. Other wobblers can be charged as misdemeanors or minor infractions. Your attorney can help you keep your charges as low as possible to avoid harsher penalties.
How your wobbler offenses are charged may be influenced by the facts surrounding your case and your criminal record. A first-time offender whose case has more mitigating factors may be charged with a lower wobbler, like an infraction or misdemeanor. A defendant with a more extensive criminal history and more aggravating factors surrounding their case is more likely to be charged with a felony.
Entering a Plea for Misdemeanor Charges in Los Angeles
You will be formally charged and allowed to enter a plea at your arraignment. However, the plea you enter at your arraignment will affect the rest of your trial. You and your San Bernardino criminal defense attorney should approach this stage of the process very strategically because there are more options than just going to trial.
There are three types of pleas a defendant can enter. First, a defendant may plead not guilty and request a trial. The judge will then schedule a trial, and pretrial arrangements will be made. Second, a defendant may plead guilty. For those who want to fight their charges, this plea seems to make no sense. However, many defendants decide that their charges are not worth fighting and their penalties are not very severe. Finally, you can also enter a plea of no contest. This has the same effect as a guilty plea; however, it cannot be used against you in a related civil proceeding as proof of guilt or liability.
A guilty plea can be used to secure a plea bargain with the prosecutor. A plea bargain, sometimes called a plea agreement or a plea deal, is like an exchange between the defendant and the prosecutor. The defendant agrees to plead guilty and waive their right to a trial. In return, the prosecutor agrees to reduce or dismiss charges or recommend a more lenient sentence.
Consult with your Glendale criminal defense attorney about what kind of plea to enter at your arraignment. It may be possible to change your plea from not guilty to guilty later if you feel that is the best move for your case. However, changing from a guilty to a not guilty plea is trickier and not always possible.
Preparing for a Trial for Misdemeanor Charges in Los Angeles
If you choose to plead not guilty, you and your Santa Clarita criminal defense attorney must begin preparing for trial. We will need to present evidence and witness testimony that will disprove or weaken the charges against you. If supporting evidence is scant or non-existent, your attorney can still be by your side to protect your rights.
The prosecutor may try to introduce evidence that was unlawfully obtained and constitutes a violation of your rights. Your Long Beach criminal defense attorney will be able to identify this evidence and object to it, preventing it from making it to a jury. Not only that, if you are unfortunately convicted, your attorney can also fight for you during the sentencing phase of your trial. Sentences must be lawful and cannot be unjustly harsh.
Call Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney to Handle Your Misdemeanor Charges
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, you should contact a lawyer immediately. Our Fontana criminal defense lawyer is here to help you through this challenging process. Call Eric D. Davis, Attorney at Law, at (909) 861-8075 to schedule a free consultation.