There are two ways to be convicted of a criminal offense in Los Angeles. You are not automatically convicted when you are arrested or when you are charged. In order to be convicted, you must have entered a plea of guilty voluntarily before the Court, or have been found guilty by a jury or Judge in trial.
Once you have been convicted, the Court will issue a sentence that is appropriate with your offense. Most statutes that authorize the Court to charge you with a specific offense, will also specify a range of sentencing for that offense. There is a range because no two cases are the same, and each set of facts and each person’s background will yield a different sentence. This is beneficial to a person because that means there is a plenty of room for negotiation.
This is why a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney is of the highest benefit to a person who is facing criminal charges. An experienced attorney will know the Judges well, the courthouse procedures, as well as the prosecutors they are facing. They are able to articulate the best possible argument and defense to help fight the case. When it comes to sentencing, they are aware of what facts and evidence needs to be presented so that the final sentence falls at the lower end of the spectrum.
The sentencing options include jail time, probation, fines, community service, rehabilitation classes and restitution. The Court has the option to combine one or more of these option to issue a final sentence. A knowledgeable attorney is able to argue and negotiate a sentence that is favorable to the person being charged. They prefer a lower fine and more community service, or a higher fine and less jail time. It is the attorney’s job to prepare their case so that it gives the client the best possible outcome, if they are to be convicted.
Let’s consider an example to fully understand how negotiation with a final sentence works.
David has never been convicted of a crime. He has a good job, and is active with his community and his church. He was charged with a Hit and Run. David was driving home at night from a friend’s birthday party and had not been drinking. It was rainy night and the streetlight was out. He could not see as well as usual and he did not realize that he hit a parked car on his way home. The attorney argued that David had no prior record and he was a good person. The attorney gathers letters from his friends, employers and community to demonstrate that this was not in line with the type of person he is. In addition, David was no intoxicated, he could not see due to the weather conditions, and he did not realize what he had done. Taking all this into consideration, the Court ordered a minimal fine, and some probation, and did not require any jail time or community service.
As demonstrated in this example, there is room for negotiation and argument. If in a worst case scenario you are to be convicted of a criminal offense, an attorney can fight for you in reducing the sentence as much as possible. In many cases it is nothing more than a fine. Do the smart thing, have someone on your side that will fight to get you the least possible sentence.