CERTIFIED SPECIALIST IN CRIMINAL DEFENSE
when charged with a Misdemeanor
In California law misdemeanors are lesser crimes than felonies; misdemeanors are usually punishable with fines, county jail, or both. The maximum sentence for a misdemeanor conviction is 1 year in county jail. A misdemeanor is considered to be minor, but should be taken seriously. If convicted, a misdemeanor will go on your criminal record. Besides jail time and fines, other punishment for misdemeanors include probation and community service.
Misdemeanor charges include:
Depending on the seriousness of the crime and the defendant's criminal history, a misdemeanor may be upgraded to a felony charge which has more serious penalties.
Be pro-active. Do not delay in contacting the Law Offices of Mary-Margaret Bierbaum for a consultation. With 30 years experience, Ms. Bierbaum can provide the legal assistance you need, protect your rights, and make sure you are not alone in navigating the court system. In some instances she can assist with pre-filing discussions with the District Attorney and get charges dismissed or reduced.
First Day in Court
Your first misdemeanor court appearance is an arraignment. At this hearing you will be notified of the criminal charges against you and your constitutional rights. This will be your first opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty (or no contest) to the criminal charges against you. It is never recommended that a person plead guilty or no contest to a misdemeanor charge at the arraignment without having spoken to an attorney first. You may have a defense to the misdemeanor charges against you without even knowing it! Don't ruin your chances at a better deal or a complete dismissal of charges by pleading guilty. A plea of guilty is usually not reversible, but a plea of not guilty can be later changed when you have more information about your misdemeanor case.
After entering your plea (of not guilty, remember!), dates will be set for your next misdemeanor court hearing. For misdemeanors, the next hearing is often a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) which is usually set about two to four weeks out from your criminal arraignment.
The first arraignment is also the time to request bail, a bail reduction, or an OR (own Recognizance) release if you or your loved one is in custody. Often those charged with misdemeanors who live locally and have no prior offenses will be released on OR (own Recognizance) as their charges are less serious, but this varies from case to case.
This is the first misdemeanor settlement conference between your criminal defense attorney and the district attorney. Here the two attorneys speak directly with the Judge and often can come to a compromise that is acceptable to both the client and the prosecution. Many misdemeanor cases are settled at the Pre-Trial Conference, but if no agreement can be reached then the case will be set for motions, a further pre-trial or a jury trial date approximately four weeks out.
Jury Trial, the final step
If your misdemeanor case is not settled or dismissed in one of the earlier pre-trial conference hearings, then your criminal case may go to jury trial, if you so desire. You may have seen a jury trial on court television or in the movies; there is a jury of 12 peers, a judge, and witnesses are put on the stand and questioned by the district attorney and the your criminal defense lawyer. Having an experienced & competent trial attorney is of the utmost importance in ensuring that you obtain the best possible representation for your case. Call our office at (831) 462-6099 to discuss your case and the possible defenses you may have.