If you are not a lawyer, the criminal judicial system is somewhat complex and confusing. You must have a lot of questions, such as, when do I have to appear in Court? When do I enter a plea? Can I enter a plea at anytime or do I lose my chance?
Breaking down the process helps understand how it works. Additionally, seeking the guidance and advice of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney will give you the best possible chances of dismissing or reducing your case because a legal professional not only went to school for this, but they know the ins and outs of the system. Furthermore, if you hire an experienced attorney, they will be familiar with the Courts, the Judges, the Prosecutors and even the court clerks.
Let’s consider an example, and walk through the process.
Donna is shopping with her friends and she is dared to steal a lipstick. Donna decides that she is going to take her friends up on the dare and throws the lipstick in her purse. As she goes to leave the store, she is stopped by security in the store and taken to their office. She is asked to wait while police officers are called. Once officers arrive, they arrest Donna and charge her with petty theft under California Penal Code §484. On the citation Donna is given by officers, she is given a court date and a court location.
On the date stated on the citation Donna appears in Court by herself without an attorney. She will wait with everyone else in the courtroom. The Prosecutor calls Donna up and tells her that if she pleads guilty to the misdemeanor petty theft, he will only sentence her to restitution, three years summary probation and fines and penalties.
Donna hears this and is immediately relieved that there is no jail time. She wants to finish up this entire ordeal and she does not want to come back to Court. However, what Donna does not know is that this is a misdemeanor, it will remain on her record for a while and will show up in any educational institution or employer related background searches. She will have to state it on school applications and job applications.
Furthermore, if Donna had consulted with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer, he would have told her that she would not be facing jail time in any case. Instead of jumping the gun and immediately pleading guilty, Donna tells the prosecutor that she wants to think about it. The prosecutor says that is fine.
Eventually the Judge calls Donna up to him and asks Donna if she would like to plead guilty. Donna tells the Judge that she is very confused, and would like to talk to an attorney. The Judge immediately continues the case and Donna is given a new date to come before the same Judge in the same courtroom.
Donna made a good decision in wanting to speak to an attorney , and fighting the urge to conclude her case right then and there. The advice of a legal professional is important and can really clarify certain things you may not understand.