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Do you need an attorney when you have been accused of a misdemeanor?

By definition, a misdemeanor is a crime which is punishable by up to one year in jail and fines up to $2000. When a crime charged carries with it the possibility of jail time, a defendant has the right to appointed counsel, commonly known as a public defender. A defendant may also opt to retain private counsel.

In most misdemeanor cases, you, the defendant, can waive your right to appear and have your attorney appear for you. You save time and embarrassment.

The outcome of your case depends on how effectively you are represented. A compassionate yet aggressive attorney can help you. Being found guilty of a crime, even if it is a misdemeanor and not a felony, can have serious consequences. It can result in the loss of your driver’s license. It can result in a criminal record, affecting your ability to get a job. Crimes of domestic violence can and do carry onerous restraining orders. A guilty finding in a misdemeanor case can mean fines, fees, and jail time.

A skilled attorney will investigate your case and look for possible defenses to the charges. A skilled attorney will listen to you. A skilled attorney will look for the best possible resolution for you. If there is no defense, a skilled attorney will negotiate with the district attorney to reduce the charges or reduce the amount of jail time. A skilled attorney will look for alternatives for you.

I am that attorney. I have worked in the courts in Northern California for more than ten years. I have seen both sides of the criminal justice system. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly I am here to help you in this difficult time I will listen to you. I will not take the first chance to plead you out. I will explain what your options are and together we will decide how to best handle your case.

Please call  (530) 892-9493 today for a free initial consultation

I will represent you in your misdemeanor case.

  • Alcohol offenses including DUI
  • Drug offenses
  • Domestic violence
  • Trespass
  • Assault and battery
  • Theft including shoplifting
  • Fish and game violations
  • Traffic misdemeanors


Arrest – If you are charged with a crime, more likely than not, you were arrested. If you were so lucky as not to be arrested, you should have received a notice to appear. The police make an arrest based on probable cause to believe that you committed a crime. They present the evidence, usually the police report, to the district attorney. The district attorney then decides whether or not to file charges. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you will be charged in a document called the complaint.

Arraignment – the arraignment is the first court appearance. At the arraignment, the judge will read your rights to you. Next, he will read the charges to you. You will receive a copy of the complaint. Next, the judge will ask how you wish to proceed in your case. When the judge asks how you wish to proceed, he simply wants to know what you want to do. Do you want to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty? Do you want to request the appointment of a public defender? Do you want to retain a private attorney?

Bail hearing – At the bail hearing, your attorney will make an argument to get you out of jail on your own recognizance or on bail. Regardless of whether you get out on your own recognizance (OR) or on bail, typically the judge will attach conditions to your release. Make sure you understand and comply with the conditions of your release. If you don’t comply with the conditions of your release, you may be brought back to jail until your case is resolved.

Pretrial conference – a pretrial conference is normally scheduled within a few weeks of your arraignment but scheduling varies from one court to another. The pretrial conference is another step in the process. Your attorney may use it to schedule a date to enter a plea or may use it to set a trial date in your case. In some cases, the case is settled at the pretrial conference. Sometimes, your attorney or the district attorney may use it to advise the judge that more time is needed to do further investigation or to continue negotiations between the defense and the prosecution.

Plea – The plea may be a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. A plea of guilty means that you are saying you committed the crime alleged. A plea of not guilty means that you want to refute the charges and go to trial. A plea of no contest means that you are not admitting guilt but you do not want to fight the charges either. The cases are limited in which a plea of no contest carries any benefit.

Trial – If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you have a write to have a public jury trial within 30 days if you are in custody (in jail) and within 45 days if you are not in custody. You and your attorney will discuss whether to have a court trial or a jury trial. A court trial is a trial before the judge without a jury. The judge decides the question of your guilt or innocence. At a jury trial, a jury of 12 people decides the issue of your guilt or innocence. At the trial, the district attorney presents witnesses and evidence to establish your guilt. Your attorney will have the chance to question each witness presented by the prosecution. Your attorney will also be able to argue to keep out certain pieces of evidence. Once the prosecution concludes the presentation of their case, you, through your attorney, will have the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence on your behalf. After both sides have concluded, the judge or jury will consider the testimony and evidence in order to come to a verdict.

Sentencing – Sentencing is that part of the process at which the judge imposes the sentence or punishment if you have pleaded guilty or have been found guilty at trial. Your sentence may include fines, jail time, work project and/or community service. Fines can usually be paid on a payment plan. Most likely you will also be on probation once any jail time imposed has been served.

Probation – Probation is often imposed after a plea or finding of guilt. Probation time period varies. Make sure you know how long you are on probation. While on probation, you will have to comply with certain probation terms. These may include not driving unless you have a valid driver’s license and insurance, subject to search and test, and/or restraining or stay away orders. It is very important that you understand and comply with the terms of probation. If you don’t follow the terms of probation, you can be subject to serving more jail time.

At every step in the process, an attorney can advise you as to what strategies are available in our particular case. An attorney can explain what options you have and how your choice will affect you.
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