Penal Code 1377 PC | Civil Compromise


Penal Code 1377 PC | Civil Compromise

Hey there! Let’s chat about California’s civil compromise law, Penal Code 1377 PC. This law allows for certain misdemeanors to be “compromised” and dismissed by the court. It can be a great option in some cases, but also has some downsides to think about. We’ll break it all down here in a conversational way so you can understand your options.

What is a Civil Compromise?

Basically, a civil compromise allows someone charged with a minor crime to pay money to the victim and potentially get the charges dropped. It’s a way to resolve things without a criminal conviction. The law says a civil compromise can happen “when the person injured by an act constituting a misdemeanor has a remedy by a civil action” (Penal Code 1377).

So if you commit a misdemeanor that causes financial harm or injuries, the victim can sue you in civil court for damages. But under 1377 PC, you can compromise by paying them or making it right outside of court. If the judge approves, the criminal case may be dismissed.

What Crimes Qualify for Civil Compromise?

Not all misdemeanors are eligible. The main ones are:

  • Petty theft
  • Vandalism
  • Trespassing
  • Minor assault or battery
  • Annoying phone calls

So lower-level offenses involving property damage, minor injuries, or harassment may qualify. But civil compromise does not apply to DUI, domestic violence, or other charges where public safety is a bigger concern.

How Does the Process Work?

If you’re charged with an eligible misdemeanor, your lawyer can discuss civil compromise with the prosecutor and victim. Terms would be negotiated – like paying for damages, completing community service, attending counseling, etc. If the victim agrees, your lawyer files a petition with the court asking for dismissal. The judge then decides whether to grant it.

There’s no guarantee it will be approved, even if the victim agrees. The judge looks at factors like:

  • Your criminal history
  • Whether you engaged in similar conduct before
  • If this compromise would benefit the public

So even in qualifying cases, judges have discretion to deny it if they don’t think it’s appropriate. But if approved, the charges are dismissed once you complete the agreed terms.

Pros and Cons of Civil Compromise

There are advantages if a civil compromise works out:

  • No criminal conviction on your record
  • Chance to make amends directly with the victim
  • Avoids immigration issues for non-citizens

But also some risks:

  • No guarantee the judge approves it
  • May still need to complete counseling, community service, etc.
  • Need to negotiate settlement with victim

So it’s not a get-out-of-jail free card. You may still have to put in work. But it can be better than a conviction in many cases. An experienced criminal lawyer can advise if it’s a good option.

Let me know if you have any other questions! I know this legal stuff can be confusing.


California Penal Code 1377

Civil Compromise Information

Overview of Civil Compromise Process