Misdemeanor Offenses

  •  What is a misdemeanor? 
    • A misdemeanor is a criminal offense for which the maximum punishment is up to one year in county jail and/or a fine.  Certain misdemeanors also carry collateral consequences such as a ten year prohibition from owning or possessing firearms.  Your attorney will explain potential collateral consequences to you.
  • When do I get appointed a Public Defender?
    • Typically you will be appointed a Public Defender at your first court appearance. 
  •  How do I see my Public Defender?
    • After your first court appearance you must set up an appointment with the Public Defender's Office.
    • In order to make an appointment, please take the paperwork you received in court to Yolo County Collection Services (YCCS). YCCS is located in the County Administration Building (just to the left of the courthouse), 625 Court Street, Woodland, California 95695. There is a $50 registration fee that will be assessed upon the appointment of the Yolo County Public Defender. This fee will offset the legal fee imposed by the county, described below. If you cannot afford this fee you can request this fee be waived.
    • Misdemeanor appointments are scheduled for Mondays.  For Spanish speaking clients appointments are on Fridays.
    • If you are in custody your attorney will come to the jail to meet with you.
  • Will I be charged fees for the services of the Public Defender?
    • Yes, you will be charged a fee for our services.  For misdemeanor offenses there is a flat fee of $150 if your case is resolved prior to a trial setting conference.  If your case proceeds to a trial setting conference you will be charged a flat fee of $275.
    • YCCS has authority to waive these fees, in whole or in part, after conducting a financial evaluation and concluding that a person is unable to pay the fees, in whole or in part.
    • Any person who disagrees with YCCS’s assessment regarding ability to pay may request a Court hearing on the matter
  •  What should I bring to my appointment at the Public Defender's Office?
    • Please bring any documents or other materials that you feel are relevant to your case to your appointment. The attorney will probably have a copy of the complaint against you and/or the police report or citation made at the time of the incident. 
    • The attorney will ask you to tell them what occurred leading up to your arrest/citation. It is important to tell the attorney everything about your case. Your conversation with that attorney is completely confidential, and he or she will not divulge any part of your conversation to the prosecutor or judge without your permission.
  • What should I do or not do while my case is proceeding?
    • Do Not talk to anyone about your case, other than your attorney.  This is important to remember because anyone other than your attorney may later be forced to testify against you.  This includes: family, friends, and if you are in custody other inmates.
    • If you are in custody remember that all phone calls at the jail are recorded and can be given to the District Attorney's Office. Letters are copies and can also be given to the District Attorney's Office. If you are in custody you can always call your attorney. If you write your attorney make sure every page of the letter and the envelope are marked "attorney-client privilege." Do not write a letter to the District Attorney's Office or directly to the court.
    • You must appear and be on time for all of your court appearances.  If you are late or do not show up for court the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.  You must always appear for court unless you have specifically discussed this with your attorney prior to the court appearance.  If an unforseen circumstance arises contact the Public Defender's Office immediately.
    • You must keep in contact with your attorney.  If you move or change your telephone number contact your attorney right away. 


  • If I am charged in Yolo County with a misdemeanor offense how will may case proceed?
    • If you have been charged with a misdemeanor in Yolo County, your case will proceed in the following manner:

                                                               ARRAIGNMENT 
                                                                        | 
                                                        PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE 
                                                                        | 
                                                        TRIAL SETTING CONFERENCE 
                                                                        | 
                                                        TRIAL CONFIRMATION 
                                                                        | 
                                                                 JURY TRIAL


DEFINITIONS:

  • ARRAIGNMENT
    • Arraignment is your first appearance in court. You will be advised of your charges and asked if you have a private attorney or the funds to hire your own attorney or request the services of the Public Defender.  You also have the right to represent yourself, however, in most circumstances this is not a wise decision. 
    • The judge will advise you of the offer from the District Attorney’s Office to resolve your case. An offer typically results in you pleading guilty to a less serious offense or to a single offense, and as a result other offenses will be dismissed.
    • Typically, you must enter a plea at your arraignment. A plea is when you plead “Not Guilty”, “Nolo Contendere” (No Contest) or “Guilty.” Your attorney can explain the differences to you. 
    • If you enter a plea of not guilty, and you are not in custody, you have the right to have a trial within forty-five days of your arraignment/plea. If it is necessary to continue your case beyond that deadline in order to prepare your case, you may be asked to “waive time.”  Waiving time is common for those clients who are out of custody as it allows you and your attorney more time to be flexible with your schedules in setting future court dates and appointments. If you agree to waive time, you are not giving up your right to go to trial, just the right to have the trial within forty-five days. If you are in custody, you have a right to go to trial within thirty days of your arraignment/plea. 
  • PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE
    • After discussing your case with you, your attorney will discuss your case with the District Attorney and the Court to see whether an agreeable resolution can be reached.
    • The purpose of the Pre-Trial Conference is simply to determine if a resolution can be reached short of proceeding to trial. 
  • TRIAL SETTING CONFERENCE
    • After you have elected to set your matter for a jury trial, your case will proceed for a trial setting conference. At this court appearance the court will set the date for your trial to commence. 
    • The court will also set a trial confirmation conference.
  • TRIAL CONFIRMATION CONFERENCE
    • The next court appearance is your trial confirmation conference.  At this time your attorney will discuss your case to see if it can resolve.  If not then they will discuss whether or not both parties are ready for trial.
  • JURY TRIAL
    • This is a court proceeding to determine whether or not the charges against you can be proven.
    • At a jury trial twelve members of the community listen to evidence and decide whether or not the charges have been proven.
    • At a jury trial you are presumed innocent.  You cannot be found guilty unless the prosecution has proven to the jury that each element of each charge has been proven by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • If you are are found not guilty your case ends.  If you are found guilty then the court will set a further date for judgment and sentencing.     
  • JUDGMENT AND SENTENCING
    • If an individual is found guilty at trial or has resolved his or her case short of trial, the court will proceed to judgment and sentencing.  
    • Judgment and sentencing is the stage in which the judge imposes the consequence for a law violation.   
    • In a misdemeanor case judgment and sentencing must be held no less than six hours or no more than five calendar days after a verdict, a finding, or a guilty plea.  This can be extended in certain circumstances.  However, in most instances you may elect to be sentenced just after a guilty verdict is returned and not elect to come back for a further court appearance.
    • Each offense has its own maximum sentence, your attorney will explain this to you.