What Are My Rights in a Los Angeles Misdemeanor Criminal Case? (PART 1)

When you have been arrested on suspicion of a criminal charge, you are not yet convicted of a crime. Simply being arrested does not mean you are guilty, or that you will be sentenced., it means that officers have a reason to believe that you are guilty of the charge you have been arrested for.

Before you can be found guilty of any crime, you must either plead guilty to the charge, or you must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Only then do you have a conviction on your record.

During the criminal court process, from the point you are arrested, or given a citation, through the completion of your case, you have certain rights. These rights may not be taken away from you at any point in the proceedings, and it is the Court’s obligation to inform you of these rights, whether you are represented by an attorney or not.
Let’s consider each of these rights in detail.

Right to Know Charge

You have the right to know the charges that are being brought against you. This right includes the right to have the complaint read to you and the right to have a reasonable amount of time (not less than one day), within which to answer the charges against you.
What does this mean? Your very first appearance before a criminal Judge is called the Arraignment. At the arraignment the Judge will read you the charge that is brought against you. He must read it in detail so that you fully understand it. He will then ask you if you wish to enter a plea. If you decide to enter a plea at that time, you may do so. But, it is important to know that you do not HAVE to. You have the right to continue the hearing date so that you have the opportunity to consider the charge, and/or to speak to a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney about the charge.

Right to Reasonable Bail

When you are held in custody you have the right to reasonable bail. This means that the Court must give you a reasonable bail so that you may be released. Keep in mind that this is a right in Misdemeanor cases, and not felony cases. In felony cases, you may be held without bail if the Court finds that you are a danger to society or if you are flight risk. It is your job, or the job of your hired attorney to make an argument to the Court that you are not a flight risk and that you are not a harm to society.

Additionally, you may be released on your own recognizance. This means that you do not pay bail to be let out of custody, but you sign an agreement stating that you will be return back to Court when ordered to do so. Remember, if you are ordered to appear in court and fail to do so, and you do not have an attorney appearing on your behalf, you will be charged with an additional criminal charge; a failure to appear.

Your rights during a criminal proceeding are important and warrant detailed discussion. The best source to discuss your defenses and your rights is to speak to a Criminal Defense Professional.