How Much Does Having A Clean Prior Record Impact A Criminal Case?
What Are The Main Differences Between Misdemeanor And Felony Charges?
In California, a misdemeanor is essentially any crime that is punishable by a year or less in the county jail, including driving under the influence (as long as no accidents or injuries are involved), vandalism or petty theft, soliciting prostitution and minor drug possession cases. Felonies are typically more serious cases and are potentially punishable by a sentence in state prison. There are multiple levels of felonies in California, including lower level felonies, violent felonies and serious felonies (which are also known as strikes). Those typically have greater consequences in the end. Examples of low-level felonies include minimal drug transportation or sales, theft involving more than $900, auto theft, and weapons possession. Examples of more serious offenses are robbery and sex offenses, as well as serious narcotics sales and conspiracy cases.
How Does The Bail Process Work After an Arrest in California?
Everyone has the right to bail except in very unusual cases, such as those involving murder. To keep it simple, we’ll just say everyone is entitled to bail. When it comes to bail, a client has two options. The first is to post the full amount of the bail directly with the courts, and then get the full amount returned in its entirety after the case has finished. More commonly, however, people utilize the services of a bail bondsman, whereby they only have to pay a small percentage of the bail amount, but that percentage is a fee (typically 7%-10%). This option is usually just more feasible for people because it eliminates them having to come up with the full amount of the bail. For example, if someone’s bail is set up at $100,000, then they would only have to pay $7000 to $10,000 if they went through a bail bondsman. This money constitutes a fee and will not be returned. If they wanted to post bail directly with the court, then they would have to post the full amount.
Many times, when bails reach that level or higher, the court may even request that the client post a trust deed (meaning real property) with the court while their case works itself through.
What Should I Expect to Happen Once I Am Released From Jail?
What you can expect once being released from jail will depend on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. For simple cases, there may only be one or two additional court appearances. For more complex cases, there could be multiple additional court hearings. On most misdemeanor charges in California, the client hires a private attorney and the attorney can actually make the appearance on behalf of the client. That way, the client does not have to show up in court. The only exception would be for domestic violence charges are involved, or if the case goes to trial. In felony cases, the client’s presence in court is required regardless of whether or not they have an attorney.
How do You Advise Clients Who Want to Plead Guilty to Criminal Charges in California?
When a person feels guilty or just wants to get a case over with, I explain that the prosecutor has a burden of proof that they must meet and that just because they feel they are guilty doesn’t necessarily mean that the prosecutor can prove the specific charges that have been filed. Prosecutors often overcharge cases, which means they file additional charges that they can’t prove. This is used as a tactic to squeeze people into pleading guilty. I advise people not to be in a hurry to plead guilty, because there may be weaknesses in a prosecutor’s case, or they may have filed the wrong charges. Alternatively, we may be able to disprove their case through our own investigation. Further, we may be able to get certain charges dismissed through the filing of motions.
The first court hearing in any case- whether it be a misdemeanor or a felony- is called an arraignment. The system is set up only to accept a not guilty plea at that court hearing because the purpose of the arraignment is primarily to get the case started procedurally. As a result, most courtrooms aren’t really set up to take or handle a guilty plea at that very first hearing.
For more information on Practicing Criminal Law In California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (619) 236-3400 today.
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