SERIOUS CRIMINAL CHARGES
Q: What is a felony?
A: Felonies are any crime that can be punished by more than a year in incarceration, whether it is in state prison or local county jail.
What kinds of crimes are often charged as felonies?
Felon in Possession
These are just a few examples of charges that can be filed in felony court.
I primarily handle felony cases. I have handled a felony caseload in Shasta County for years. I've represented clients on low-level felonies all the way up to serious life cases including murder. With extensive experience in "Three Strikes" cases, domestic violence cases, sex offenses, theft charges, and possession-related allegations, I have the skills needed to fight these serious cases.
A felony conviction can drastically impact your future. A felony record makes it more difficult to find employment, interferes with your Second Amendment rights and other basic constitutional rights, and potentially subjects you to incarceration. Even with a grant of probation, a felony often means stricter rules on probation and harsher consequences for violations.
If you believe you may be charged with a felony you should immediately seek experienced legal advice to help you navigate this difficult situation. Do NOT talk to ANYONE, especially law enforcement or anyone potentially involved in the case--even friends and family--until you've had a chance to speak to a lawyer.
Learn more about felonies here.
Even though misdemeanor offenses are considered far less serious than felonies, they can still take a serious toll on your life. For many of these offenses, the consequences do not end when you complete probation. Sex offenders have historically had to become lifetime registrants (this recently moved to a 3-tier system, but the shortest tier is still 10 years). DUI charges frequently involve at least a temporary loss of driving privileges, and picking up another DUI within 10 years of a prior DUI conviction will typically have much harsher consequences than the average misdemeanor offense. A prior misdemeanor conviction of 'corporal injury to a spouse/cohabitant/domestic partner' can be used to add years of possible prison time if you are later charged with the same offense, but as a felony.
Theft convictions can be used to challenge your credibility when they are considered "crimes of moral turpitude" and a drug offense can affect your eligibility for public aid or require you to register with law enforcement as a drug offender.
For many, the biggest concern is whether a conviction will affect your job, or future job prospects. An experienced attorney can help you avoid some of the major pitfalls of these "minor" charges.
Q: What is a MISDEMEANOR?
A: any crime that can be punished for up to (but not more) than a year in jail per count.
What are some common misdemeanors?
REDUCTIONS, DISMISSALS, PARDONS
Did you know that once you've finished probation, paid your fines, and completed any required terms of probation, as long as you have no pending cases you can petition for post-conviction relief?
Certain felony convictions can be reduced to misdemeanors, and misdemeanors can then be set aside under Penal Code section 1203.4. This can significantly improve your job prospects because in many situations, you no longer have to disclose that conviction at all.
Even if you've been to prison, there are still options that may allow you to put that record in the past where it belongs once and for all, such as discretionary expungements, certificates of rehabilitation, and pardon applications.
Mental health, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and bargained dismissals
In certain situations, especially when your supposed criminal conduct was brought on by a mental health issue or a drug addiction that you are willing to get treatment for and address, you may be able to mitigate your situation or even obtain a dismissal. Telling the court you are ready to get help and put your life back on track can be the saving grace that keeps you from a lengthy incarceration - if you truly mean it and follow through with the treatment plan.
For those with little to no criminal record, diversion plans may be an option. Diversion allows you to demonstrate to the court that for a specified period of time, you can abide by the law and potentially do some counseling or classes, and then the court would dismiss the diverted charges after you successfully complete diversion. Diversion isn't for everyone, but depending on your situation, it can be a great option.
A skilled attorney can help you figure out whether diversion or treatment options are right for you and whether they are a less risky alternative to taking your case to trial.