Misdemeanor Criminal Charges

Misdemeanor criminal charges carry fines and a maximum of either six months or one year in county jail. In most misdemeanor cases, you will be granted probation and sentenced to a term of less than the maximum time. In those misdemeanor cases where probation is granted, the judge often imposes a jail term of anywhere from 10 to 180 days.. As long as you comply with all the terms of your probation, no additional time will be imposed. However, failure to follow all terms of probation may cause the District Attorney to file a violation of probation charge against you. If the violation is found to be true, the court may impose additional jail time, fines or both. You are not entitled to a jury trial in an alleged violation of probation. The hearing is held before a judge who, after hearing all the evidence, will decide whether the terms of probation have been violated.

Misdemeanor Probation

Misdemeanor probation is also called “informal” or “summary” probation. You do not have an assigned probation officer. You do not need to check in with the probation department at any time. You may travel outside the state or country without the permission of the probation department or the court. Misdemeanor probation is usually granted from a period of one to five years. The most typical term imposed is three years.

Serving Your Sentence

It is not always necessary to serve jail time actually “in custody.” Various programs exist that allow you to serve your time while living at home and continuing to work. You can choose to do your time on weekends by working each Saturday and Sunday for the Sheriff’s Department. For every eight hours of work completed you receive credit for one day of jail time. You can also choose to serve your time Monday through Friday through a labor program. Electronic monitoring (house arrest) is also available in most cases. On the electronic monitoring program, you may be away from your home up to twelve hours a day so that you may work. There is a per day cost for this program that is based upon your income. The minimum charge is $10 per day. The Sheriff’s department must approve your participation in these programs.


Being charged with driving under the influence can be very frightening and overwhelming. If you have been arrested for a DUI you should contact an attorney immediately to find out how to save your driver’s license. In every DUI case, you must not only deal with the criminal charges against you but also an administrative action by the Department of Motor Vehicles against your driver’s license. If you do not take action within 10 days of your arrest your driver’s license will be suspended thirty days from the arrest date even if criminal charges are never filed. On a first offense, the suspension will last four months and you will have to complete a class before your driving privilege is reinstated. Only an experienced DMV attorney can help you avoid this suspension.

Depending on the county where you were arrested, a typical first time DUI offense carries a jail term of 0 to 10 days. The fines are approximately $1500 and you must complete a DUI class. Your driver’s license will be suspended for six months. After one month, you may be eligible for a restricted driver’s license if you have enrolled in the DUI class.

A second offense DUI may carry up to sixty days jail time. Your license will be suspended for 18 months. After one year, you will may be eligible for a restricted license. An experienced attorney can help you minimize the damage a DUI can cause to your life and employment. We will explore all possible defenses and strive to limit the consequences to you and your family.

Spousal Abuse/Domestic Violence

The police and the courts take allegations of spousal abuse or domestic violence very seriously. If someone calls the police it is nearly certain that the person accused of domestic violence will be arrested. Even in minor cases you will be booked and have to post bail. You do not even have to actually injure your spouse or partner to be arrested and charged. Spousal abuse/domestic violence charges can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The severity of any injuries and your past criminal history, if any, will determine how the charges are filed.

It is important that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Most people think that if the victim does not want charges filed or retracts the accusations that charges will not be filed. This is not true. If you are arrested it is almost a certainty that charges will be filed. Speaking to an experienced attorney immediately can help minimize the damage. It is always more difficult to get a filed charge dismissed than it is to convince the district attorney to not file it at all.

In all but the most serious domestic violence cases, you will be granted a term of probation. In misdemeanor cases the typical jail term is anywhere from 15 to 90 days. Felony cases usually carry more jail time and can range from 60 days to 180 days. If the injuries are more serious a jail term of up to 365 days may be imposed. In the most serious of cases a prison term of up to four years for a first offense may be imposed. Another consequence of a domestic violence conviction is that it may affect your ability to have custody of your children in the event of a divorce or break up with the other parent of your children. It can also affect your right to spousal support. Please consult with an attorney immediately after learning that there is even a possibility that domestic violence charges may be filed.

In all cases, if probation is granted, you will have to complete a 52 week batterer’s treatment program, 20 hours of community service and pay fines. These terms are in addition to any jail term imposed.

Felony Charges

Unless you are granted probation felony charges carry a prison term. The term varies significantly depending on the particular charge and severity of the offense. Felony charges are very serious. You should contact an attorney immediately. It is never too early to start mounting a defense. Talking to witnesses early can help minimize the consequences when you get to court. If convicted of a felony you will not be permitted to own or possess a firearm.

Felony Probation

If you are granted probation then you will receive a jail sentence of up to 365 days in the county jail. In most cases you may serve this time in one of the programs discussed above. Felony probation is also referred to as “formal probation.” You will be assigned a probation officer with whom you will need to check in with on a regular basis. You may not leave the state or country without your probation officer’s permission. You must advise your probation officer at all times of your home address and place of employment.

Drug Charges

Since the passage of Proposition 36, fewer drug charges require you to serve a jail sentence if convicted. An experienced attorney can advise you of whether you will qualify for Proposition 36 sentencing. In a lot of cases, if you do not qualify, an experienced attorney can negotiate the charges so that you do qualify.