What is a Misdemeanor Crime Charges in San Diego? Misdemeanor crime are crimes that are of lesser offense compare to a felony. This type of charges carries a maximum of six months in county jail and a fine up to $1000.
Stage 1: Charges
Criminal charges generally fall into two categories; misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies, the more serious charges, are those crimes which are potentially punishable by imprisonment in a State prison. Misdemeanors are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year. Misdemeanors include such offenses are petty theft, drunk driving, simple assault and domestic violence.
Stage 2: Arraignment
When charged with a misdemeanor, the first court appearance is the arraignment. If represented by counsel, the defendant does not have to appear in court, except in domestic violence cases, where this appearance is mandatory. In fact, if represented by counsel, a misdemeanant probably will never have to make a personal court appearance, if he or she so chooses. At the arraignment, a formal charge is filed by the prosecutor and the defendant is asked to enter a plea. If in custody, the amount of bail is usually reviewed.
Stage 3: Discovery
Following arraignment, the defense counsel is provided with “discovery” materials by the prosecutor. This includes police reports regarding the case, witness statements, photographs, etc. Having received these materials, the attorney is then prepared for the next appearance, which is deemed a “readiness conference.”
Stage 4: Readiness Hearing
The purpose of this hearing is essentially to determine whether a settled disposition – “plea bargain” – can be reached. If so, the defendant signs a written plea agreement, which the attorney submits to the court and sentence is imposed. If not, the case proceeds to trial.
Stage 5: Trial
In any case in which the defendant is potentially liable to receive a term of imprisonment, he or she has a constitutional right to be tried by a jury. Barring a negotiated settlement, the case will proceed to trial. A verdict, whether a finding of guilty or not guilty, must be unanimous or a mistrial is declared.
If the defendant is found not guilty, the case is ended. There can be no retrial, based on the Double Jeopardy Clause. If found guilty, a sentencing hearing is set. As noted, misdemeanors carry a maximum of one year in jail and a $10,000 fine. An appeal to the appellate department of the superior court may be taken, if the defendant desires.
If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor crime please call our law firm immediately for help.