Oakland Misdemeanor Criminal Defense Attorney
A misdemeanor is an offense that is punishable by either a fine, imprisonment of no more than one year in the county jail, or both. It is more serious than an infraction, although not as serious as a felony. It is serious because your freedom and personal autonomy is on the line.
An infraction is a minor crime such as illegally dumping refuse, traffic violations, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, etc. You will not even get arrested if you commit an infraction. You will just be issued a ticket summoning you to court. The maximum punishment an infraction conviction can attract is a fine, which you can usually pay online or via mail.
A felony, on the other hand, is a serious crime that carries grave penalties that have major repercussions on a person’s life. Punishments for are long years of prison time, hefty fines, or both.
While a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, it also has repercussions for you, if you are convicted. The effect of a criminal record can be quite unpleasant as it may restrict your access to benefits that would otherwise have been yours. A criminal record limits access to employment, good housing opportunities, loans, and grants.
This is why it is very important to avoid getting a conviction if you are charged with a misdemeanor. You can do this by retaining the services of an expert misdemeanor attorney who was a former prosecutor.
Attorney Leen Nachawati is an expert misdemeanor attorney who will leave no stone unturned when defending you against these charges. She understands how badly you will be affected by a conviction and she believes that you should not have to spend the rest of your life paying for one bad situation. Even if you have been told you have an ”open and shut case”, there are intricate details that make a great legal difference.
She will do everything in her power to ensure that she gets you the results you deserve. She will listen to you, work with you to form a strategy, and use her considerable skill and experience to fight for your rights. If you or your loved one is facing misdemeanor charges, reach out to Attorney Leen Nachawati and get started on building your defense.
What to Expect When You Are Facing Misdemeanor Charges
Even though a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, an arrest may still occur. During the arrest, the arresting officer must advise you of your rights which includes your right to maintain your silence unless your attorney is present. You should never implicate yourself by making a statement without your attorney being present – even if you believe that you are saying something inconsequential. When you retain Nachawati Law, we will counsel you to maintain your silence to make sure nothing you say is used against you.
We will also verify that none of your rights were violated while you were being arrested. Should the arresting officer have failed to follow due process, that will be grounds for us to undermine the prosecution’s case.
In addition to this, we will ensure that any search and seizure that occurred was carried out with valid warrants. If not, well, the prosecution will have their work cut out for them.
We will also facilitate your release from detention as quickly as possible. You can be released in two ways – either on your own recognizance or by paying the bail amount set by the judge.
The first time you appear in court after your arrest is called an arraignment. Here you will briefly appear before a judge who will advise you of your constitutional rights and given a copy of the charges against you, called the complaint.
This is also the time where the judge will set your bond amount. Having an attorney present with you during this is important because we can help facilitate a lower bond amount, but also to ensure that any bond conditions that are set by the judge are fair. Bond conditions depend on the type of charges you are facing, but they can include anything from not being able to return to your home to drug and alcohol testing.
The judge will also ask if you will like to be referred to a public defender. If you have retained us to defend you, you won’t need to accept the judge’s offer.
At your arraignment, the judge will ask you to enter a plea. You can either plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. The prosecution can also offer you a plea bargain if you are faced with more than one charge. They will ask you to plead guilty for a lesser charge in return for dropping the heftier charges against you.
If you accept the offer of a plea bargain, you can’t plead “not guilty” anymore. You only have guilty and no contest to choose from.
We will have had a meeting with you before this, where we will hash out these details and agree on what you should plead. A plea bargain, while it is an admission of guilt, can sometimes be a win – depending on the charges filed against you.
If you refuse the offer of a plea bargain, the judge will set future court dates for a trial. If you accept the offer of a plea bargain, you will be asked to give up your rights to a jury trial.
It is your right to be tried by a jury; entering into a plea bargain means that you are giving up this right. On accepting the plea bargain, you will typically be sentenced on the same day. In more complicated crimes, especially those with listed victims, you will be referred to probation for a pre-sentence interview. This interview is what the probation department uses to give a sentencing recommendation to the judge. We will guide you through the process to ensure a favorable outcome.
Though you have been accused of a crime, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. As the office of the prosecuting attorney is the entity bringing the charges against you, the burden of proof is on them. They have to convince all 6 members of the jury that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Depending on the charges, your trial may last from a day to weeks. Typically, misdemeanor trials last one to two days. All the members of the jury must agree to either convict or acquit. Dissension in the jury will lead to the case being declared a mistrial. In this case, we may have to go before another jury or settle for a plea bargain or the prosecuting attorney may choose to dismiss the case altogether.
- Retail fraud
- Petty theft
- Domestic violence
- Assault & battery
- Operating while intoxicated (DWI, DUI, OWI, OUI, OUIL, OUIN)
- Driving while license suspended, expired, or invalid
- Breaking and entering
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Disorderly person
- Public urination
- Public intoxication
- Trespassing/illegal entry
- Criminal traffic offenses
- Malicious destruction of property
- Juvenile misdemeanors
A misdemeanor offense can be aggravated, thereby attracting stiffer punishment. Examples of aggravated misdemeanors are second drunk or drug driving cases, domestic violence offenses, and repeat suspended license crimes.
Penalties That a Misdemeanor Offense May Carry
The major penalty a misdemeanor offense can carry is jail time. There are, however, other penalties that can be meted out. They include:
- Drug and alcohol testing
- No contact with listed victims
- Payment of fines, including victim restitution and court fees
- Community service
Let Us Defend Your Misdemeanors Charge
The fact that you are in a bad situation does not make you a bad person. You could have made a mistake or acted in self-defense and the situation was wrongly interpreted. There are two sides to every story – we are here to tell yours.
The law office of Nachawati Law is committed to fighting for you and delivering a successful outcome for your case. Reach out to schedule a consultation today.