In previous blogs the hypothetical case of Donna was illustrated. In Part 2, Donna hired an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney who appeared on her behalf at the Arraignment and pled not guilty after discussing the plea bargain with the Prosecutor.
The attorney would have had three options in Court while appearing on behalf of Donna for the petty theft charge. He could have accepted the plea bargain offer from the Prosecutor which was to plead guilty to a misdemeanor petty theft, restitution, fines and penalties, and probation for three years.
If he pled guilty, the attorney would have discussed with Donna at length her constitutional rights in a criminal case. After having discussed each right in detail, Donna would have signed and initialed a form stating each of these rights. The Judge would have then, on the record, asked Donna if she understood the charges against her, the rights she was waiving, and whether she agreed. After having done so, the case would have been completed.
The attorney would also have the option of pleading no contest. If the plea was no contest, the same procedure would be applied as if the plea was guilty. The attorney can also enter a plea of not guilty. If a plea of not guilty is entered, then the case is set for Pre-Trial and a new date is given.
Donna’s attorney sets the case for Pre-Trial as he does not believe the offer to be a reasonable one. As previously discussed, a misdemeanor can potentially be detrimental to your future educational and career goals.
Donna’s attorney appears on Donna’s behalf at the Pre-Trial. He talks to the Prosecutor, who is different from the Prosecutor in the Arraignment courtroom. The Prosecutor gives the same offer as was in the arraignment courtroom. Donna’s attorney is prepared with case law, his arguments and has done his research on the facts of the case and has spoken to Donna’s friends and family members.
He uses all of his findings and negotiates with the Prosecutor. He explains the weaknesses in the case, and states that the Prosecutor does not meet their burden of proof and if it were taken to trial, they would be wasting judicial resources. The attorney further state that his client will enter a plea of guilty, if the charge is changed to that of an infraction, and the sentence is a minimal fine and restitution.
The Prosecutor reviews his file and Donna’s criminal record, and agrees. The attorney has reduced Donna’s charge to that of an infraction. This means that the charge will not appear on Donna’s record, and she will not be asked to report it. An infraction is similar to a traffic violation and does not carry with it significant weight.
If you are facing criminal charges, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice and counsel of a legal professional.