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Misdemeanor Court Procedures -

       A misdemeanor is a crime that can be punished by imprisonment in the county jail, a person whois charged with a misdemeanor has a right to a jury trial. The person charged with the crime is referred to as the defendant. The prosecution is done in the name of the People of the State of California who are represented in most counties by the District Attorney of that particular county.

       Some separate violations of local municipal codes are prosecuted by the city attorney's office from that particular municipality.

SORP (Supervised Own Recognizance Program)

       The person may be arrested or sign a notice to appear. If arrested, the person is entitled to reasonable bail. Many people who are initially taken into custody are released by the court "OR" (Own Recognizance) or under a "SORP" (Supervised Own Recognizance Program) release prior to the trial. These are similar releases whereby the person signs a promise to return to court for each hearing, but SORP will usually have additional conditions such as weekly drug testing, "no contact" orders, counseling and the person released may be required to keep in weekly phone contact with the pretrial release people.

The Court Appearance

       The initial charges are called a Complaint and are filed in the Superior Court, Court of Limited Jurisdiction. The initial court appearance, whether in custody or out of custody, is referred to as the arraignment. At that stage, the defendant is advised of their various constitutional rights, including their right to an attorney.

Right to a Jury Trial

       The defendant has a right to a jury trial within 30 or 45 days, depending on whether they are in custody. Intervening court dates are usually referred to as "pretrial" hearings that allow both sides to find out what the evidence is and to discuss possible settlement.

The "Faretta" Right.

       For cases that don't settle, the matter will be set for a jury trial. At the jury trial, the defendant has a right to represent himself or herself. That is called their "Faretta" right. The vast majority choose to be represented by a licensed criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the criminal rules of procedure and practice, including the Evidence Code.

Burden of Proof

       The District Attorney has the burden of proof and must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. It requires a unanimous verdict of all 12 jurors before someone can be found guilty

       For more information on the Penal Code in California including the terms felonies, and infractions, please visit the sub categories under the main category, California Penal Code in this website.

- Written by , Attorney at Law




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