Roughly 1 out of every 3 Americans has a criminal record. Many of them are a result of a misdemeanor crime.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor for the first time, it can be a scary experience. Questions may be swirling through your head.
How much money is this going to cost? Will you go to jail?
Rather than drowning yourself in all of the possibilities, the most productive thing for you to do when charged with a misdemeanor is educating yourself on what will happen next.
Our team at The Law Office of Roland J. Garcia have created this post to give you insight into how the misdemeanor process works so you can be prepared every step of the way.
1) You’ll Receive a Citation
The officer who is charging you with a crime will issue you a citation. This citation outlines the description of your offense and whether it’s a felony, misdemeanor or an infraction.
2) You Will Be Arraigned and Need to Show up for Court
When receiving your citation, you will be given a date to show up to court. You should arrive in 15- 20 minutes before your scheduled hearing and check in at the courthouse’s clerk’s desk.
Once the judge is ready to hear your case, you’re called into a room where you’ll make a plea in regard to your misdemeanor offense.
Prior to making a plea, the judge will review your case and give you a rundown on what consequences you can expect depending on how you plea. After acknowledging your understanding of your situation, you will either plea guilty or not guilty to the charges brought before you.
Know that a guilty plea during this stage means you forgo your right to a trial. You’re also foregoing your right to remain silent.
If you’re not sure what to plea, you can ask for a court-appointed attorney or preferably ask to engage your private lawyer. This will often result in a rescheduling of your court date to give you time to understand your situation on a deeper level.
3) If You Plea Not Guilty You’ll Select Your Trial Type
If you enter a plea of not guilty, you’ll have the opportunity to select either a court trial or a jury trial. In a court trial, the evidence is heard by a judge and s/he will determine your guilt and punishment. In a jury trial, a body of your peers will hear evidence and determine your guilt.
Court trials are typically much faster than jury trials.
Determining which trial option is best for your case can be difficult without the legal knowledge or proper representation. If you’re going to trial, it’s best to have a lawyer advise you.
4) If You Enter a Guilty Plea You’ll Receive Your Sentencing
If you choose to plead guilty at your court appearance, the judge will issue you the punishment warned of prior to your plea. Alternatively, a sentencing hearing may get conducted on a separate date.
Once a sentencing gets carried out, you’re asked to pay or make arrangements to pay all fines and/or begin or schedule the beginning of your required jail time.
To Summarize Being Charged with a Misdemeanor
A large number of Americans get charged with misdemeanor offenses every day. While misdemeanors are not the most serious crime you can be charged with, they can carry unsavory financial and incarceration implications.
To ensure that your rights get protected and to circumvent or minimize the potential punishment you face with a misdemeanor, an experienced attorney is invaluable.
To that end, The Law Office of Roland J. Garcia has you covered.
Roland has been fighting for his clients for years, getting them favorable court results and helping them get past their misdemeanors and other offenses quickly.