Articles Posted in Sentencing

When you have been charged with a Criminal offense in California, you will be summoned to court and must appear before the Judge. In many cases, a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney can make an appearance on your behalf. The first appearance in court is referred to as an Arraignment.

During the arraignment the person charged will receive their arrest report. The arrest report will contain the officer’s report on the arrest and the circumstances and facts surrounding it. Additionally the Prosecution must present any evidence they have regarding the case. Prior to the arraignment, you are not able to know what the Prosecution has learned based on the arrest report and what the arresting officer has reported.

Additionally, the person charged will receive a plea bargain from the prosecution. A plea bargain can be described as a settlement offer asking you to plead guilty to a charge and the sentence you will receive if you do so. After having spoken to the Prosecutor regarding a potential sentence, you will have to appear before the Judge. The Judge will then ask you to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.

Actress Lindsay Lohan appeared in the Beverly Hills courthouse on September 24, 2010 and was ordered to be taken into custody with no bail.

Ms. Lohan had spent two weeks in jail in this past August and several weeks at a Rehabilitation facility where she had made great strides in tackling her drug and alcohol addiction. Upon being released from the facility, as part of her probation she was ordered to provide the Court with random drug tests whenever requested. The actress, however, failed multiple drug tests in the week before her court appearance. As a result, the Judge took her into custody for her probation violation and set another hearing date for October 22, 2010. The Judge will then decide if Lohan had violated her probation and what the revised sentence will be.

When the Judge grants probation it should be taken very seriously. Your probationary period is a chance for the Judge to see that you have learned from your sentence and will not make the same mistake again. If you violate your probation you will have to appear before the Judge and he or she will decide the appropriate steps to be taken. Possible consequences may include an additional fine, extended probation or community service, and in many cases, mandatory jail time.

Under the California Penal Code § 647, Drinking in Public is considered a misdemeanor. However, a Drinking in Public charge is considered what prosecutors and attorneys refer to as a “wobbler”. A “wobbler” is a charge that can be tried as either a misdemeanor or as an infraction.

If your offense is classified as an infraction, it won’t go on your permanent record. This would be your ideal goal. If it is charged as a misdemeanor, it is more serious and will become a part of your permanent record.

Charges such as a Drinking in Public Ticket are beneficial to the person charged because it allows for negotiation and a strong argument made in your favor. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney can speak to prosecutors to reduce your sentence down to an infraction. This will allow you to pay a simple fine and avoid it going onto your permanent record.

A charge will only appear on your permanent record when you have been convicted, not just arrested. When you are arrested, there is no case against you. An arrest means that the officers are merely alleging that you could be guilty of the crime of which you are accused. In contrast, when you are convicted of an offense, you have been proven to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

A conviction will fall under one of three categories; infraction, misdemeanor or felony. When you get a traffic ticket or a jaywalking ticket, it is usually an infraction. These are minor incidents that can be corrected by a fine and without appearing in court. Additionally, these offenses do not involve any jail time. An infraction does not go on your record. You are not required to report it to employers, financial institutions, or any other application processes that may ask if you have a criminal record.

A misdemeanor requires that you appear in court before a judge or an attorney appear on your behalf. The sentence can include jail time, a fine and/or community service, depending on the facts of the case. A misdemeanor is more severe than an infraction and has harsher consequences. More often than not, you will have to report a misdemeanor to your employers, financial institutions or anywhere else you are asked about your criminal record.

A California assault charge is defined in the California Penal Code under sections 240 and 241.

Assault is defined under section 240 as an “unlawful attempt, coupled with present ability, to commit a violent injury to the person of another”. Translated into simple terms, it means that if someone attempts to and has a capability of causing violent injury to a person, they may be charged with assault.

The potential penalties for an assault charge fall along a range depending on the specific facts of your case. The sentence will also depend on who was assaulted; a civilian, an officer, school personnel, as well as where the assault took place. Based on these factors the penalty may include a fine up to a thousand ($1,000) dollars and/or up to six months in county jail. The fine may be up to $2,000 when the assault is committed by or upon a peace officer, firefighter, medical technician, nurse, doctor, lifeguard, process server, animal control officer, or traffic officer in the course of his or her duties.

A California Battery charge is defined by the California Penal Code section 242. Section 242 defines a Battery as any willful and unlawful use of force on the person of another. Put simply, a battery results when a person causes physical impact on another that is unsolicited and unwarranted causing injury.

The potential penalties for a battery charge fall along a range depending on the specific facts of your case. The sentence will also depend on who the battery was committed and by and against who, as well as where the assault took place and the extent of the injuries. The basic sentence that falls on the lower end of the spectrum will be a fine up to two thousand ($2,000) dollars and/or up to six months in county jail.

On the higher end of the spectrum a battery charge may receive a sentence of up to $10,000 if battery is committed by or upon a peace officer. Similarly, the sentence will be considered in a different light when the battery is directed towards or committed by those who serve the community such as lifeguards, doctors, nurses and firefighters.

When you have been arrested for a Criminal Offense in Southern California you are sure to be anxious and scared as to what will happen next, not knowing what it is that you should do first.

If you are not arrested and taken to the police station you will be issued a citation filled out by the arresting officer. The citation will contain the penal code of the offense you are being cited for, will note whether it is an infraction or misdemeanor and will have the name of the officer along with other details of the arrest including any notes and location. Most importantly, your citation will have a court date and location listed at the bottom. It is extremely imperative that you show up to the court date. An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney may make this appearance on your behalf so that you do not have to worry about taking time off for work or your busy schedule.

That first court date is an arraignment and plea. It is at this time that Prosecution would present their offer for sentencing and you would stand before the judge and enter your plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. If you have hired an attorney, the attorney will stand before the Judge and speak on your behalf.

On September 20, famous heiress Paris Hilton pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor drug possession charges in Las Vegas. The Judge sentenced her to 12 months of probation, mandatory attendance at a substance abuse program, a fine of $2,000 and 200 hours of community service.

No matter the charge, avoiding jail time is a significant concern for many people that are arrested. Most criminal offenses including, but not limited to, DUI, theft and drug possession, have in their statute a range of penalties that held guide the Criminal Judge in giving a sentence. Most include a range of jail time that may be imposed depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Prosecution recommends a sentence to the Judge based on the facts and discussions with the defense attorney.

You do not have to be a celebrity with a high paid lawyer to avoid jail time. An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer knows the Judges and Prosecution well and can prepare a powerful argument that will give you the best possible outcome.

Many of my clients make the mistake in assuming that a Criminal Judge can make decisions regarding your Immigration status and vice versa. This however is not the case, as they are two very separate judicial entities.

The Immigration court is a federal court and uses federal rules and law. An Immigration judge does not have the discretion or jurisdiction to make decisions regarding your criminal case. The Judge will look at what the ruling or final judgment was on your criminal case and makes a decision based on that. He or she will not consider the merits, that is the facts, of your criminal case and decide whether you were wrongfully charged or convicted. The underlying facts are not important to the Immigration Judge, and he does not have the discretion to consider them in making a decision regarding your Immigration status.

The Criminal Court is a state court and uses state law. A Criminal judge will advise you that a criminal conviction can affect your immigration status but he has no authority to decide on any immigration matter. He or she will consider the merits of your criminal case and make a ruling. Immigration status will be decided by the immigration judge based on that ruling.

When a person is charged with a Los Angeles Criminal case they are required by state law to be placed on Probation depending on the offense. There are over 100s of different offenses in the California Penal code and each will yield difference consequences. Potential sentences may include jail time, a fine to be paid, education classes to be completed, and/or restitution.

The sentence will include one of two types of probation, informal and formal. Informal probation is generally the case for misdemeanor charges. Petty theft will generally be given informal probation which is unsupervised. Formal probation on the other hand requires that a person check in with a deputy probation officer and is strictly enforced. Charges like felony hit and run, or theft will require formal probation after a jail sentence has been served.

There are two type of probation violations: external and internal. An internal probation violation results when a person fails to complete required education classes, pay a fine, fail a required drug test or fail to report to a probation officer ( in cases of formal probation). An external violation results when a similar crime is committed within the probationary period.