Skip to main content

5 Tips When Charged With a Misdemeanor

If you were recently charged with a misdemeanor, a court date is not far behind. Speaking in court is intimidating, and you may do something you regret. These tips are designed to put you on the right path to help you get the best deal possible. People have come to me in the past and told me that they wished they had known these things before they plead guilty to their misdemeanor. Before the next court date, consider these tips to help you.

1. Consider Not Pleading Guilty

When you first go to court, it's called an arraignment. You will have an opportunity to plead guilty at that hearing to terms set by a judge or a prosecutor. You don't need to plead guilty. If you plead not guilty, the only thing that will happen is that they will set a pre-trial conference. This will give you time to either hire an attorney or further consider your options. It may also get you a better deal.
In Utah, speeding tickets are misdemeanors. When you show up for court, you will be asked to plead guilty to the misdemeanor and make some monthly payments. But did you know that if you don't plead guilty at that time, you set yourself up for a better deal? It is possible, even with speeding tickets, to plea to something that will eventually be wiped from your record. The first thing to do is plead not guilty.

2. Consider a Plea in Abeyance

A plea in abeyance is a possible deal you can arrange between you, the prosecutor and the judge. The terms are generally similar. You serve a term of probation, pay a fine, do a few other things (depending on your crime). After 6-12 months, your crime will be dismissed. It is then a simple process to have it expunged and wiped from your record.
Negotiating a plea in abeyance will allow you to keep your record clean, which is desirable for a number of reasons. You can get a plea in abeyance without a lawyer. All you have to do is ask. The benefit of having a good attorney, however, is in their ability to convince a prosecutor if they're not inclined. Many criminal attorneys also have a relationship with local prosecutors and often get favorable results from them.

3. Only Your Attorney is on Your Side

There is a presumption in American law that everyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proved guilty. It can seem like that presumption doesn't really exist. While I have faith in the people who run the justice system, I do not trust them to do the right thing unless there's someone there telling them what the right thing is.
With that in mind, make sure that you do not trust that the prosecutor is looking for anything other than to get you to plead guilty and get you out of the courtroom. Make sure that before you say yes to a deal, that you take the time to consult with an attorney. You may be told that a deal is only on the table for one hearing. While there is a risk that they will not give you the same deal twice, the risk, in my opinion is small.
If you have a clean history, or a relatively clean history, you'll likely get that same deal or a better deal next time.

   4. If the Misdemeanor is a DUI, You have 10 Days to Save Your License.

After you are charged with a DUI, there is a separate proceeding with the Driver's License Division of the DMV. You have only 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV before they suspend your license.
Although a license is typically suspended at these hearings, it is worth requesting one. You lose nothing by doing so, and you will get an opportunity to possibly get your license back.

   5. Don't Speak to Anyone Regarding Your Case... Unless it's Your Attorney

You may have many people in your life asking you about what is going on, or what happened. It's in your best interest to say absolutely nothing to anyone about the case until it is resolved. If this is a matter of domestic violence, you should probably stay silent with regard to the case to the victim as well.
The reason for this is that anything you say could be used against you. The city isn't likely to expend the resources to find out everything about you for a simple misdemeanor, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. Control the information and you control your case.
BONUS: If your spouse is the victim in the case you've been charged with, they can invoke spousal privilege to not testify against you. There are often times where spouses will fight and regret calling the police. In such situations, a spouse can refuse to testify.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, contact us now so that we can help you!


Popular posts from this blog

Thoughts on a Right To Remain Silent

I recently had the opportunity to do a preliminary hearing for a woman who was charged with obstruction of justice. The charge was dismissed with prejudice because the a local city with an infamously incompetent police force improperly charged her. I had several thoughts after this victory, ranging from how great my performance was, to how significant my mistakes were in spite of my victory. I'll go over what I felt I did right and wrong in the hopes that it will benefit some other attorney, or myself, at some point. What Happened A woman was charged with Obstruction of Justice, which is a fairly long statute. The situation was that a police officer came to her home to investigate a crime. Her son had some active warrants, but the police officer didn't know that at the time. The officer had both the son and the woman outside, asking them questions about his investigation. He then asked her for her personal info. Then he asked the son. The son gave the officer incorrect inform…

The Real Reason Your Divorce Costs So Much

You started a divorce, hired a great attorney that was recommended to you, and now costs are ballooning out of control. It's been 9 months and it feels like you're no closer to a divorce settlement than when you started. The reason you're not done is likely for one of two reasons: Your spouse is being unreasonable.You are being unreasonable. No, it's not your attorney. Despite the wide range of talents in the legal field here in Utah, I feel confident in stating that they all are competent in the basic flow of divorce cases and can and want to get you to the finish line (or risk malpractice). Some attorneys are better at negotiation than others, but all of them are likely smart enough to identify a good deal and tell you to take it. It's either you or your spouse, and -- spoiler -- it's probably you. You Should Be More Reasonable If your divorce has stalled, you need to ask yourself why. Take an honest look at everything you're asking for. Are you trying to…

Finding The Best Attorney For Your Money

Choosing the best attorney to represent you is an important decision. You likely have no experience with legal matters and similarly little experience with attorneys. What you already know is that they cost a lot of money. You may have considered handling your legal problems on your own, but found that it was too complicated. So you are now ready to trust your problem in the hands of a professional, but you have no idea what to expect, and what is a worthwhile use of your time. This article will help you find the best attorney for your money: General Things You Should Expect Of Your Attorney 1. The best attorney should be in regular communication. Attorneys work for you, so you should expect that they will keep you in the loop. Your attorney should be regularly contacting you, or letting you know that you will not hear from him for a set time for a specific reason. You shouldn't expect daily contact or contact multiple times per week, but you should be in regular contact with you…