MISDEMEANOR – Criminal Defense
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN CHARGED WITH A MISDEMEANOR
A misdemeanor charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail. If you are charged with a misdemeanor in California, you can expect the following:
First Day in Court
Your first misdemeanor court appearance is an arraignment. At this hearing you will be notified of the criminal charges against you and your constitutional rights. This will be your first opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the criminal charges against you. It is never recommended that a person plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge at the arraignment without having spoken to an attorney first. You may have a defense to the misdemeanor charges against you without even knowing it! Don’t ruin your chances at a better deal or a complete dismissal of charges by pleading guilty. A plea of guilty is not reversible, but a plea of not guilty can be later changed when you have more information about your misdemeanor case.
After entering your plea (of not guilty, remember!), dates will be set for your next misdemeanor court hearing. For misdemeanors, the next hearing is a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) which is usually set about four weeks out from your criminal arraignment.
The first arraignment is also the time to request bail, a bail reduction, or an OR (own Recognizance) release if you or your loved one is in custody. Often those charged with misdemeanors will be released on OR (own Recognizance) as their charges are less serious, but this varies from case to case in Los Angeles and Ventura.
This is the first misdemeanor settlement conference between your criminal defense attorney and the district attorney. Here the two attorneys will get a chance to speak with the Judge and often everyone can come to a compromise that is acceptable to both the client and the prosecution. Many misdemeanor cases are settled at the Pre-Trial Conference, but if no agreement can be reached then the case will be set for a jury trial date approximately four weeks out.
Jury Trial, the final step
If your misdemeanor case is not settled or dismissed in one of the earlier pre-trial conference hearings, then your criminal case will go to jury trial. You may have seen a jury trial on court television or the movies where there is a jury of 12 people, a judge, and witnesses are put on the stand and questioned by the district attorney and the defendant’s criminal defense lawyer. Having an experienced trial attorney is incredibly important in ensuring that you obtain the best possible representation for your case. Call our office at (805) 494-1131 to discuss your Ventura or Los Angeles case and the possible defenses you may have.