Los Angeles Misdemeanor Defense Attorney
Los Angeles Misdemeanor Defense Attorney: Your Guide to Fighting Misdemeanor Charges
Being charged with a misdemeanor offense in Los Angeles can be scary and overwhelming. Even though misdemeanors are considered less serious crimes than felonies, they still carry penalties like fines, probation, and jail time. Having a criminal record can also make it harder to get jobs, housing, loans etc.
That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced Los Angeles misdemeanor defense attorney on your side. They can help you understand the charges against you, build the strongest defense for your case, and fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about misdemeanors in LA, including:
What is a Misdemeanor in California?
In California, crimes are classified as infractions, misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors fall in the middle – they are more serious than infractions but less serious than felonies.
There are two types of misdemeanors in California:
- Standard misdemeanors: Punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. Examples include petty theft, trespassing, disorderly conduct.
- Gross misdemeanors: Punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. Examples include DUI, domestic violence, driving on a suspended license.
Some crimes are called “wobblers” – they can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances. These include crimes like assault, battery, fraud, possession of controlled substances etc.
Common Misdemeanor Charges in Los Angeles
Some of the most common misdemeanor charges filed in LA County include:
- DUI – First and second offense DUIs are usually charged as misdemeanors. A DUI conviction can mean hefty fines, DUI classes, license suspension and jail time.
- Petty Theft – Shoplifting, theft under $950. Punishable by fines and jail time.
- Drug Possession – Possessing small amounts of illegal drugs like cocaine, meth, ecstasy etc.
- Domestic Violence – Includes violence against a partner, spouse, co-parent. Jail time, fines, classes often required.
- Assault, Battery – Assault is an attempt to physically injure someone, battery is unlawful physical contact. Fines, probation, restraining orders common.
- Public Intoxication – Being drunk in public. Punishable by fines, probation, classes.
- Resisting Arrest – Physically resisting police, punishable by jail time.
- Trespassing – Being on private property without permission.
- Vandalism – Damaging, defacing property. Restitution, fines, jail time possible.
- Disorderly Conduct – Acting in a disruptive manner in public.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Convictions
The maximum sentence for misdemeanor convictions in California is 1 year in county jail and/or fines up to $1000. Probation lasting 1-5 years is also common.
Other penalties can include:
- Mandatory counseling or drug/alcohol treatment
- Community service
- Victim restitution
- License suspension
- Probation terms like random searches, staying in county etc.
Misdemeanors remain on your criminal record permanently if not expunged. They can make it harder to get jobs, professional licenses, loans etc. Certain misdemeanors may also prevent you from owning firearms.
Why Hire a Los Angeles Misdemeanor Defense Attorney?
Facing misdemeanor charges without a lawyer is a huge risk. An experienced attorney can:
- Evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case and build the best defense
- Negotiate with the DA for charge reduction or dismissal
- Guide you through the complex court process
- Advise you of possible penalties so you can make informed decisions
- Represent you in court hearings and at trial if needed
Hiring a private defense attorney can also help you avoid long case delays compared to using a public defender.
An attorney may also be able to get your charges reduced to infractions, which are like traffic tickets. This prevents jail time and a criminal record.
For “wobbler” crimes, a lawyer can argue to charge them as misdemeanors rather than felonies.
Overall, having an excellent lawyer on your side can help you get the best possible outcome for your case. Don’t leave your future up to chance – consult with a lawyer immediately. The initial consultation is often free.
Finding the Right Los Angeles Misdemeanor Defense Attorney
If you’re facing misdemeanor charges in LA, it’s crucial to have an experienced local criminal defense lawyer on your side. Here are some tips for finding the right one:
- Look for an attorney with extensive experience specifically handling misdemeanor cases in LA courts. Check their background and case results.
- Find someone who is well-respected by judges and prosecutors, and really understands how LA courts work.
- Meet with lawyers before hiring to discuss your case details and ensure you feel comfortable with them.
- Look for someone who is confident, aggressive and will fight tirelessly in your defense.
- Choose a lawyer who you can easily communicate with. They should be responsive and keep you updated.
- Make sure they have resources for building a strong defense, like relationships with expert witnesses.
- Compare their fees and payment plans. Avoid lawyers who overcharge.
- Read reviews online from former clients.
With the right misdemeanor defense attorney in your corner, you have the best chance at a positive case outcome. Don’t leave your future up to chance – consult with a lawyer immediately. The initial consultation is often free.
The Misdemeanor Court Process in Los Angeles
If you’re charged with a misdemeanor in LA, here is a basic overview of how your case will proceed:
Arrest: You may be arrested at the scene or given a citation ordering you to appear in court later. The police report will be forwarded to the DA.
Charging: The DA reviews the police report and files formal misdemeanor charges against you.
Arraignment: Your first court appearance. You will be formally informed of the charges and enter a “not guilty” plea. Bail may be set at this stage.
Pre-Trial Hearings: Your attorney can file motions challenging evidence, requesting dismissal etc. You can also negotiate a plea deal with the DA.
Trial: If no plea agreement, your case will go to trial before a judge or jury. The DA must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Sentencing: If found guilty, the judge will impose penalties like fines, classes, probation, jail time.
Appeal: You can appeal your conviction to a higher court. Grounds are very limited.
Having an attorney to guide you through this complex process is absolutely vital. They know how to effectively defend your rights and freedom every step of the way.
FAQs: Los Angeles Misdemeanor Defense Lawyers
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about fighting misdemeanor cases in Los Angeles:
How much does a misdemeanor defense lawyer cost in LA?
Costs vary by attorney experience, case complexity etc. Simple cases may start around $1500 – $2000. More complex cases can cost $5000 – $7500+. Payment plans are usually available.
Will a misdemeanor show up on my record?
Yes, misdemeanors remain on your criminal record indefinitely unless expunged. Background checks will reveal them.
Should I just plead guilty and take the penalties?
Pleading guilty means accepting whatever penalties the judge imposes. An attorney may get your charges reduced or dismissed, avoiding penalties.
What if I missed my court date?
A bench warrant will likely be issued for your arrest. Turn yourself in immediately or hire a lawyer to try vacating the warrant.
How long do misdemeanors stay on my record in California?
Misdemeanors remain on your record permanently unless you successfully get them expunged after completing probation.
Can I get a misdemeanor expunged from my record?
Yes, misdemeanors can potentially be expunged after probation is completed. An attorney can file the expungement petition for you.
Will a misdemeanor affect my immigration status?
It’s possible. Consult with an immigration attorney as well as a criminal defense lawyer. Certain convictions may lead to deportation.
Conclusion: Act Fast to Protect Your Future
Being charged with a misdemeanor in Los Angeles is serious business. The penalties can disrupt your life for years to come.
Act quickly and contact an experienced local misdemeanor defense lawyer to start fighting your charges. An excellent attorney can make all the difference between a guilty verdict and getting your charges reduced or dismissed.
Don’t leave your fate up to chance. Schedule a consultation with a top-rated Los Angeles misdemeanor defense attorney today. They will protect your rights, freedom and future.