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Facing Criminal Charges

What to Do If You Face Criminal Charges in California

If you’re facing criminal charges, it means that you’ve been formally accused of that crime. The charging process usually starts with the citation or arrest. The police will then send a copy of their report to a prosecutor, who will then initiate the criminal case. The prosecutor will do one of the following:

  • Make an independent decision on what, if any, charges should be filed
  • Call citizens to serve as the grand jury to conduct a legal proceeding, investigate the case, and determine what criminal charges should be brought.

Levels Of Offenses

Criminal charges in California are divided into three categories: infractionsmisdemeanors, and felonies. The type of charge will dictate the possible penalties you will receive (a fine or jail time), and if you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges you should seek legal assistance and advice from an experienced Gold River criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights.


Out of the three categories, criminal infractions are the less serious violations that typically subject a person to nothing more than a monetary fine. These include traffic offenses for minor violations and other low-level misconduct.


Misdemeanor crimes are more serious than infractions, and they are punished by up to one year in jail. Common examples of a misdemeanor include:

  • Drunk driving
  • Shoplifting or petty theft
  • Assault and battery
  • Reckless driving
  • Simple drug possession

It is important to note that some misdemeanor offenses escalate to a felony if you commit the offense again.

In California, misdemeanor charges can have grave consequences, such as jail time, fines, court hearings, probation, and other court restrictions that can bring more additional charges and penalties.


Felonies are the most serious kinds of crimes. In general, a crime is considered a felony if it is punishable by more than one year in prison. Some examples of felony crimes include:

Felony crimes are serious offenses and they require the experience and knowledge of a criminal defense lawyer. In California, a criminal conviction for a felony charge has long-term consequences. These consequences include jail or prison time, fines and court costs, probation terms, and/or post-conviction restrictions, such as parole or sex offender registration.

Courtroom Etiquette

  • Be punctual. Get to the courthouse early to give yourself time to find parking, go through security, locate the appropriate courtroom, and briefly meet with your attorney.
  • Dress appropriately. Remove any hats and sunglasses before stepping into the courtroom. Shorts, tank tops, and open-toed shoes should be avoided when possible. Consider dressing as if you are interviewing for an office position.
  • Turn your cellphone off and put it away. Bailiffs do not like having to tell people to turn their ringing phones off in court. You may be asked to leave court. Do not risk upsetting the judge.
  • Do not say anything without your attorney’s permission. You may find yourself wanting to tell your side of the story; however, that is what you have retained an attorney to do. You want to avoid saying anything that could get you in more trouble or damage your defense.
  • Control yourself. It can be very upsetting to hear things being said about you in court; but, getting visibly angry or annoyed does not contribute to your defense.
  • Address the judge properly. When in doubt, “Your Honor” is a safe way to address the judge, male or female.

Protect Yourself with the Help of an Experienced Defense Attorney

  • At Chastaine Jones, we will explain the process for you, help safeguard your legal rights while your criminal case is pending, and develop legal defenses to your charges. Misdemeanor or felony charges are serious and can change the course of your future. If you are facing criminal charges in Folsom, Gold River, Roseville, Rancho Cordova or the surrounding communities, we can help you. Call (916) 932-7150 or send us an email today.

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Contact our Roseville criminal defense law firm today!