If you have been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, it will be listed as one of three different categories: infraction, misdemeanor or felony. Each level has different consequences and means something different if it remains on your record.
Infractions are the lowest level of criminal offenses. This class includes traffic tickets, and small offenses such as littering or jaywalking. Because it is the lowest level of criminal offenses, the potential consequences are low as well. A person who has been found guilty of an infraction will likely just pay a fine. They will not be required to report it on applications and it will not show up on background searches.
Misdemeanors are a step up from infractions. These can be much more serious and carry with them a plethora of consequences, including jail time, fines, probation, rehabilitation or education programs, insurance consequences or license revocation. A misdemeanor will show up on your criminal record, and will be required to be stated on applications and other forms that ask about your criminal history.
Felonies almost always carry with them some jail or prison time in addition to fines, probation, rehabilitation or education programs, insurance consequences, restitution, license revocation and civil liabilities. They almost always involve extensive damage to property, or injury to a person. A felony is the most serious charge and will appear on any type of background check. You are also required to disclose it if asked about your criminal history.
One of the most important reasons to hire an experienced and knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Offense attorney is to help reduce your charges or get them dismissed. In order to get a charge dismissed or reduced, an attorney must have extensive knowledge about not only the law and available defenses, but they must also know the court in which the case is being heard, the Judges who preside over the cases and the prosecutors that try the cases. All factors come into play for an attorney to prepare a strong argument in your favor, while keeping in mind the overall personalities and preferences of the players that will be involved.
Let’s consider an example. Donny has been charged with a Los Angeles Hit and Run. It has been charged as a felony because prosecutors claim that Donny hit a person and failed to stop and provide his information and to call an ambulance. Prosecutors also claim that Donny caused extensive injuries to the pedestrian. Donny faces prison time among other egregious consequences. Donny has no criminal record, and is very stressed out. He immediately hires a Los Angeles Criminal Offense lawyer.
The attorney looks into the facts, visits the site of the accident and requests the medical records from the pedestrian. He quickly finds that the total costs of medical services for the pedestrian was $200.00, and the pedestrian was not admitted into the hospital. The attorney also talks to witnesses and finds that many of them state that Donny stopped and helped the pedestrian and even called 911. With this in mind, the attorney immediately talks to the pedestrian and works out a way for Donny to pay the hospital bills. The pedestrian, agrees and works with the attorney to prepare a civil compromise. This is then presented to the Prosecutor along with the findings of evidence. The Prosecutor has no choice but to either dismiss the matter, or in the very least reduce it to a misdemeanor.
If you are facing charges, give yourself the best possible chance of getting it reduced or dismissed by retaining a Los Angeles Criminal Offense Lawyer!