Many clients mistakenly believe that because certain charges arise out of one incident, that it is all considered to be one offense. This is not true. You can be charged with many different offenses, possibly resulting in multiple convictions from one incident. To better understand the concept, let’s consider an example.
David is driving home from a party. He has had a few drinks. He feels that he is fully capable of driving his car home, even if he may not be. He is driving home late, and it is a rainy foggy night, making it difficult for him to see. He is driving home on a deserted street, with parked cars. As he is driving he hits one of the parked cars on the left back bumper.
David is on probation from a DUI he got two years prior. Not wanting to get in trouble, he drives away hoping no one witnessed the incident. As he drives along, worried about getting seen, he runs a red light and is stopped by officers immediately. Officers smell alcohol on his breath and ask him to submit to field sobriety tests. What David also doesn’t know is that someone has witnessed him hit the parked car, and has reported the incident. The officers who have stopped him for suspicion of DUI get notified of the possible suspect, and arrest David.
David is facing some serious charges. Prosecutors will charge him with a Hit and Run, a possible DUI, as well as a Probation violation.
The probation violation will stem from the fact that David was on probation at the time he was arrested for Hit and Run and for the second DUI. Under general probationary terms, you are ordered to stay out of trouble and not face any additional penalties or possible convictions. By drinking and driving, while he is on probation for a prior DUI, David also faces a potential jail sentence.
At the time of arrest, David is only charged with potential offenses. He has not yet been convicted. There is a difference. An offense means that the Prosecutors have enough evidence to believe that he is guilty of a crime, but have not yet proven their case. They must prove each element of each offense beyond a reasonable doubt before David can be found guilty. A trial must be held, or a plea must be entered by David on each individual offense, not all as a whole.
If David is found guilty, he will face three separate convictions, with three separate sentences. If you are facing several charges at once, it is important to get the facts straight, the defenses clear and prepare the strongest possible argument. Several offenses at a time is a complex criminal case, and one that only an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney should handle!