If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Southern California, that does not mean you have been convicted. If there is no conviction, you will not be facing any type of sentence. If you have either entered a plea of guilty, or no contest, then you have been convicted of a criminal offense. Similarly, if you have gone through trial, and have been found guilty of a criminal offense, then you have been convicted. After the conviction, there is generally a sentence. Most sentences, not all, but most, consist of the following components.
Many offenses will consist of jail or prison time. It is important to note that jail or prison time is not a part of a sentence in every offense. There are many offenses that will not require any jail or prison time. A jail sentence is any time served that is one year or less. Prison time is any time that is served beyond a year. Whether or not you are asked to serve a jail or prison sentence will be determined by the facts of your case and your criminal background. Most often violent crimes, felonies, or second or more offenses will include some time in prison or jail.
There are two types of probation; informal and formal. Almost every offense will include a probationary period. The more serious felonies and violent crimes will involve formal probation (generally after a prison sentence has been served) and the lesser crimes will include informal probation. Formal probation requires a person to check in with a probation officer, not leave the county or state, and to follow other specific guidelines such as no use of substances. Informal probation does not require a person to check in with an officer, but merely follow general guidelines. One such guideline is that they are not to be arrested and/or convicted for any additional crimes during their probationary period.
Many offenses will require that the person who has been convicted pay a fine to the state. This fine increases as the seriousness of the crime increases. For example, infractions will have fines in the lower range, closer to $100.00 or so. Fines associated with DUI, will rise as the facts of the case rise in seriousness. For example, a DUI with no damage or injury and a BAC of .09 will have a lower fine than a DUI with injury and a BAC of .15.
Education/ Rehabilitation Classes
Many offenses involving drugs or alcohol will require rehabilitation or education classes such as alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous. This requirement is aimed more towards prevention of future offenses, and rehabilitation. The classes could be required from anywhere between three months to a year. For violent offenses and domestic violence offenses they court may also require completion of batterer’s intervention or anger management.
None of these sentences are set in stone. In fact, if you read each statute or provision outlining the sentencing for each offense, it is a range. The purpose of the range is so that all facts can be taken into account, as well as each individual’s background. Not all sentences are fair an equitably applied to all cases. Because there is such room for negotiation and argument, it is a good idea to retain a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer to argue on your behalf and ensure the lowest possible sentence.