Misdemeanors Defense Lawyers in El Cajon
One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is failing to contact an attorney when charged with a crime in California. Even when facing a misdemeanor offense – which is considered less severe than a felony offense of the same nature – the advice and counsel of a legal professional is incredibly valuable. At the office of Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law, LLP, our misdemeanor crimes attorneys can protect your interests and aggressively defend you against the charges you’re facing. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor crime, we urge you to reach out to our legal team as soon as possible to improve your chances of securing a positive outcome.
Types of Misdemeanor Offenses in California
There are two general categories of misdemeanors in California: standard misdemeanors and aggravated misdemeanors. Standard misdemeanors are less serious misdemeanor offenses, and include crimes such as:
- Public intoxication;
- Drug possession (in small amounts for personal use); and
Aggravated misdemeanors, also known as gross misdemeanors, include more serious offenses such as:
- Driving under the influence (DUI);
- Domestic violence; and
- Breach of a restraining order.
Note that in California, there are also “wobbler” offenses. These are offenses that can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors, or misdemeanors or infractions, depending on the discretion of the prosecution.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Offenses in California
Being charged with a misdemeanor may not be as serious as being charged with a felony, but that doesn’t mean you should take the charge lightly. In fact, a conviction for a misdemeanor offense, even a non-aggravated misdemeanor, can still result in jail time in California.
The penalties for a standard misdemeanor are up to six months in jail or/and a fine of up to $1,000. The penalties for an aggravated/gross misdemeanor offense are more severe and include up to 364 days in jail or/and a fine of up to $1,000. Of course, a misdemeanor offense – both the arrest and the conviction – will show up on your criminal record as well. This means that you may be barred from certain opportunities in the future and may have trouble securing housing or employment as a result.
It is also possible to get probation for a misdemeanor offense in California. Conditions of probation vary on a case-by-case basis, but might include a period of house arrest, being ordered to perform community service, or participating in a counseling program, amongst other requirements.
The Criminal Process After Being Charged with a Misdemeanor Offense
If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, it’s important that you understand how the criminal process works and what you should expect along the way. After you are arrested for the crime, the first step in the process will be an arraignment hearing. During your arraignment hearing, the charges will be formally read against you and you will have the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
It is extremely important that you meet with an attorney before your arraignment hearing. If you have not met with an attorney, you should plead “not guilty.”
After the arraignment hearing, the next step is a bail hearing. This is where the court determines whether or not you can be released from holding while the charges against you are pending. You will likely be released on bail or on your own recognizance.
The next step is the pre-trial process. During this process, motions will be filed, you’ll have the option to change your plea (which you may choose to do if you reach a plea bargain with the prosecution), and the discovery process (where both sides to the case exchange information and evidence) will unfold.
The final steps in the process include a trial, verdict, and sentencing. You may have a court trial or a jury trial depending on the details of your case. At the end of the case, you will either be pronounced guilty or not guilty; if guilty, the judge will then issue a sentence against you.
Why You Need an Attorney
It’s best to speak to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you are facing criminal charges in California. Your attorney will provide a number of services that are important to the outcome of your case, including:
- Explaining the charges against you;
- Reviewing the evidence the prosecution has against you;
- Explaining what laws and penalties apply to your case;
- Advising you on whether to plead guilty or not guilty;
- Representing you during your bail hearing;
- Building your defense or negotiating a plea bargain;
- Gathering evidence to support your defense;
- Making a case to the judge that you deserve a reduced sentence
- Ensuring that your Constitutional rights are protected throughout the process;
- Filing motions on your behalf;
- Representing you in court;
- Helping you to understand the conditions of your probation and your duties per the law;
- Much more.
An attorney can also make you feel as though you have an advocate and a partner when you are facing criminal charges. Being charged with a crime is often terrifying, lonely, and shameful – having a legal professional on your side who is dedicated to you can be a major source of comfort when you very much need it.
Our Misdemeanor Crimes Attorneys Are Here for You – Contact Us Today to Learn More
When you’re facing criminal charges, the best thing to do is to contact a skilled attorney who can advise you of your rights, options, and the next best steps to take. At the office of Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law, LLP, we understand what you’re up against and how much is on the line. We are committed attorneys who care about our clients. When you choose us, you can count on hard work, aggressive representation, and reliable communications. To learn more, please call us at 619-441-2500, send us a message telling us more about the charges you’re facing, or visit our law office in person at your convenience.