If you have been charged with a Hit and Run in Los Angeles, you will be given a citation and a notice to appear in Court. This citation will state the time and which court house. This is not an optional appearance. You must appear on or before that date stated. This is called your arraignment.

At the arraignment, you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. This will be entered after you have spoken to a Prosecutor about the potential sentence they are willing to give if you plead guilty that day.

How do you know this is a good offer? How do you know if the Court has followed proper procedural requirements and they are not violating your Constitutional rights? You know by hiring a Los Angeles Hit and Run Lawyer.

If you have been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you have the right to an attorney. This right is a very important one and is guaranteed to each and every person charged with an offense in the United States. The criminal justice system is complicated, it is complex and afford many great protections to persons being charged. However, unless you are an experienced and knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney, you may be confused and even frustrated with the whole situation.

A legal professional has the reputation and the education to be able to make the entire process much easier and stress free for someone who is awaiting a Judgment. There are many ways in which an attorney can help.

  1. Readily available defenses

If you have been arrested and the crime is a felony, chances are the State of California will keep you in custody pending the conclusion of your case. However, you are entitled to a bail hearing to determine the amount of bail, if any, will be set.

If you are in custody it is a very stressful and difficult time. Regardless, retaining an experienced and knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney should be a priority and the first thing you do. During a bail hearing, there are several elements to be proven. Without the proper legal background and expertise, you would not be able to adequately and quickly prepare for the hearing.

When granting or denying bail, the Court will consider two elements; 1) is there a flight risk and 2) is there a harm to society.

To determine the possible consequences of a hit and run offense, you must first determine which Vehicle Code Section the conviction was made under.

It is important to remember that a person has not been convicted until the person has been found guilty or has entered a plea of guilty. If a person has simply been arrested, they are simply being charged and are not convicted. To be convicted of an offense, there must be a trial or a voluntary plea. There can be no sentence issued, unless the person has been convicted.

If a Hit and Run involves injury to a person, the person that has been convicted will be charged under California Vehicle code §20001(b)(1). The statute states that a person who has been found guilty under this section will “be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine”

When you have been arrested and charged with the possession of marijuana, the amount of marijuana you have in your possession will help determine how you will be charged.

If you have less than one ounce in your possession, you will be charged under California Health and Safety Code 11357(b). This code section states in relevant part:

“Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100)” An infraction is generally just a fine. There is no probation, or community service, or rehabilitation classes. An infraction is similar to a traffic ticket. It does not go on your permanent criminal record and rarely has to be disclosed on employment or education applications.

When you have been arrested or cited for an offense, the citation you receive will state a date and time that you have to appear in Court. That date is the arraignment date. At the arraignment date you will receive a plea bargain from the prosecutor. A plea bargain is a complete offer, and if you agree to the plea bargain you will enter a plea of guilty at the arraignment, concluding your case.

Before you accept a plea bargain there are many things you should take into serious consideration.

  1. Is the offer reasonable?

If there is no damage or injury and you have been charged with a Hit and Run in Los Angeles, it is highly recommended that you speak to a Los Angeles Hit and Run Lawyer. Under the California Vehicle Code there must be 1) damage to property or injury to person AND 2) no contact information left at the scene or help administered in the case of injury.

In order for a person to be charged and convicted of a Hit and Run, a prosecutor must prove BOTH elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is no damage or injury, and you have been charged with a hit and run, it is very likely that prosecutor will not be able to prove their case, and your case may be dismissed. Because there is a strong likelihood that your case will be dismissed, it is important to have a legal professional present the strongest case in your favor.

Let’s consider an example to properly explain this concept. Dana lives in a woodsy area. She is driving home from a friend’s house one night, when it is snowing. She is unable to see very well. As she is driving her car hits something in front of someone’s private property and causes her car to swerve. Scared and afraid of being stuck in a snowstorm, Dana starts heading home. An officer drives by, sees her car in the opposite lane and writes her a citation for hit and run. She is ordered to appear in Court for her Arraignment.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, your first appearance in Court will be the Arraignment. At the arraignment, you will be read your rights, the charges against you and the potential sentence. You will then have the opportunity to speak to the prosecutor and the prosecutor will offer a plea bargain.

A plea bargain is an offer that is supposedly less than the statutory sentence. The hope of prosecutors is that you will accept the lower sentence in hopes of getting a guilty plea and concluding a case. Oftentimes a plea bargain is a good option, but sometimes it is not. Let’s draw out an example so that it is easier to understand.

Donna has been charged with Hit and Run under California Vehicle Code § 20001. She has no prior criminal record. At the arraignment, the Judge reads out the code section, and her rights. The Judge also explains that in accordance with the statute, she may face a potential penalty of up to one year in jail, and/or a fine of $1,000.00 to $10,000.00.

If you have been arrested for a criminal offense, you have not been found guilty. The court has to make a finding of your guilt, either through a full trial, or through a plea entered by you. The very first appearance you make in Court is called an Arraignment.

At the Arraignment, the following things will happen:

  1. You will be asked to enter a plea, whether it is guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
  2. You will be read the offense you are being charged with and the potential consequences you may face
  3. You will have the opportunity to talk to the Prosecutor regarding the charges against you
  4. You will be offered a plea bargain in exchange for your guilty plea

The arraignment is a court ordered appearance. If you are given a citation, it will state on the citation the date you must appear in court. If you fail to appear, it is a court violation referred to as a Failure to Appear.

When you fail to appear in Court, the Judge will order a Bench Warrant. A bench warrant allows officers or other authorities to arrest you at any time and take you into custody. It is highly advisable that if you have failed to appear in court, that you appear as soon as possible to explain your failure to appear to the Judge and hope that the Judge recalls the Bench Warrant.

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