A misdemeanor is a criminal offense for which the maximum punishment is up to one year in county jail and/or a fine. Certain misdemeanors also carry collateral consequences such as a ten year prohibition from owning or possessing firearms. Your attorney will explain potential collateral consequences to you.Typically you will be appointed a Public Defender at your first court appearance.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor in Yolo County, your case will proceed in the following manner:
Arraignment is your first appearance in court. You will be advised of your charges and asked if you have a private attorney or the funds to hire your own attorney or request the services of the Public Defender. You also have the right to represent yourself, however, in most circumstances this is not a wise decision.
The judge will advise you of the offer from the District Attorney’s Office to resolve your case. An offer typically results in you pleading guilty to a less serious offense or to a single offense, and as a result other offenses will be dismissed.
Typically, you must enter a plea at your arraignment. A plea is when you plead “Not Guilty”, “Nolo Contendere” (No Contest) or “Guilty.” Your attorney can explain the differences to you.
If you enter a plea of not guilty, and you are not in custody, you have the right to have a trial within forty-five days of your arraignment/plea. If it is necessary to continue your case beyond that deadline in order to prepare your case, you may be asked to “waive time.” Waiving time is common for those clients who are out of custody as it allows you and your attorney more time to be flexible with your schedules in setting future court dates and appointments. If you agree to waive time, you are not giving up your right to go to trial, just the right to have the trial within forty-five days. If you are in custody, you have a right to go to trial within thirty days of your arraignment/plea.
The purpose of the Pre-Trial Conference is simply to determine if a resolution can be reached short of proceeding to trial. After discussing your case with you, your attorney will discuss your case with the District Attorney and the Court to see whether an agreeable resolution can be reached.
Trial Setting Conference
After you have elected to set your matter for a jury trial, your case will proceed for a trial setting conference. At this court appearance the court will set the date for your trial to commence as well as a trial confirmation conference.
Trial Confirmation Conference
The next court appearance is your trial confirmation conference. At this time your attorney will discuss your case to see if it can resolve. If not then they will discuss whether or not both parties are ready for trial.
This is a court proceeding to determine whether or not the charges against you can be proven. At a jury trial twelve members of the community listen to evidence and decide whether or not the charges have been proven.You are presumed innocent and cannot be found guilty unless the prosecution has proven to the jury that each element of each charge has been proven by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you are are found not guilty your case ends. If you are found guilty then the court will set a further date for judgment and sentencing.
Judgment and Sentencing
If an individual is found guilty at trial or has resolved his or her case short of trial, the court will proceed to judgment and sentencing. Judgment and sentencing is the stage in which the judge imposes the consequence for a law violation.
In a misdemeanor case judgment and sentencing must be held no less than six hours or no more than five calendar days after a verdict, a finding, or a guilty plea. This can be extended in certain circumstances. However, in most instances you may elect to be sentenced just after a guilty verdict is returned and not elect to come back for a further court appearance.
Each offense has its own maximum sentence, your attorney will explain this to you.
Questions or comments?
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Last Updated: 10/2014