Just the Beginning
Facing criminal charges isn't the end of the world. It is, however, the start of a potentially difficult time in your life. But you have options, and pleading guilty isn't the only way out. The best thing you can do for yourself is to speak with an attorney to learn about what will and what can happen in your case. To help you do that, here are seven ways to keep a California criminal charge from ruining your life.
You would be surprised how many people plead guilty thinking they can just “get it over with.” In reality, you have to fight a criminal charge if you don't want it to run—and eventually ruin—your life. Absolutely speak with an attorney about how you can fight your charges. Not all who are charged with a crime are convicted. In fact, many have their charges dismissed or are acquitted at trial.
Negotiate a Lesser Charge
The prosecuting attorney sometimes offers first-time offenders plea bargains. Plea bargains are “deals” between the defendant and the court. The prosecutor trades a lesser charge for a guilty plea. Oftentimes, the deal works in both the defendant's and the court's favor. The court saves resources by avoiding a trial, and the defendant walks away with a less serious charge, typically with an easier sentence.
Try Your Case
If you are unable to secure a fair plea bargain, you have a right to demand a trial. In some cases, a trial is preferable to pleading guilty. And, if you are acquitted at trial, you can walk away without a conviction. While a trial is typically thought of as a last resort, a good attorney will know when a trial is your best option at a fair outcome.
Even if you are convicted of your charge, there may be steps you can take to keep it from having devastating effects on your life.
After a conviction, you can:
Exercise Your Rights
California law protects those with criminal convictions from employment discrimination. Most employers are not allowed to ask about arrests or criminal charges that did not end in a conviction. Nor can they hold such information against you if found out. Most recently, California passed a law to protect all those with criminal convictions. Now, most employers are not allowed to run pre-employment background checks during the preliminary stages of the application process, and they can't ask about your criminal background on applications. Only when an applicant has been considered based on experience and merit can employers run background checks before making an offer.
End Your Probation
If you receive probation in lieu of part of your sentence, you could be subject to several restrictions that could make your life difficult. If you have completed most of your probation period successfully, talk to an attorney about whether you can file a motion to have your probation period ended early. Not only will this lift those restrictions, but it could also make you eligible for cleaning your record.
Clean Your Record
If you have a criminal conviction, you may be able to clean your record to limit the information the public can see. Expungement is a process that dismisses certain criminal convictions “in the interests of justice.” Once you have a conviction dismissed, you can legally say you were never convicted of that crime. This can have a huge effect on your ability to get a job, an apartment, or a loan.
Keep a Good Attitude
A criminal charge is not the end of the world. You have many options for fighting your charge and even some options for moving on if you are convicted. Speaking with an attorney is the only way to fully explore all your options. You might be able to keep a criminal charge from ruining your life if you take proactive steps from day one to work with an attorney on fighting your charge or easing the burden of your sentence and its aftermath.
If you are facing criminal charges, take action before it's too late. Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for help in Tulare, Fresno, or Kings County. Experienced in criminal defense and record cleaning, our Visalia area legal team can help you fight your charges and clear your name. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and won't be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.