The Only Constant Is Change
The criminal justice system is far from perfect, but it has built in corrective measures to ensure that there are ways to fix problems as they arise. Lower court decisions can be appealed and overturned, draconian laws can be repealed, and fairer sentencing guidelines can be established. Execution methods that were once considered routine are now thought to be inhumanely cruel even to use against people who have been convicted of grave crimes. Although change can be slow, judges, legislators, and most importantly, the people themselves have the power to change our system for the better.
Felonies and Misdemeanors
In November, California voters approved a ballot measure, Proposition 47, that immediately changed several types of crimes from felonies (that is, more serious offenses) to misdemeanors. These included drug possession and a number of theft crimes involving less than $950.
Previously, these offenses had been classed as felonies requiring those who had been convicted to serve lengthy sentences in overcrowded prisons. As a result of the passage of Prop 47, several inmates have already been released and those who are brought up on these charges now face significantly shorter prison terms. However, just because these nonviolent offenses are now considered misdemeanors, doesn't mean you shouldn't still seek the aid of an experienced trial lawyer when facing criminal charges.
Types of Criminal Charges Affected
Several classes of theft crime have been reclassified as misdemeanors under Prop 47. Although that means shorter sentences for those who have been convicted, it's definitely better not to be convicted of a crime in the first place. Among the types of theft covered by 47 are shoplifting, forgery, check and credit fraud, and possession of stolen goods. Again, these crimes will be considered misdemeanors so long as the theft does not exceed $950. What these charges have in common is that they are not violent crimes. Crimes like burglary, breaking and entering, and armed robbery can still be considered felonies.
Drug possession is also affected by Prop 47. Although federal drug charges and sentencing will not be affected, the punishment for being convicted of drug possession in California is now greatly reduced. Again, the shift from felony to misdemeanor means that the crime is not considered to be as severe as it previously was.
Why You Need a Criminal Lawyer in OC
These kinds of changes are one of the reasons it is so important to have legal representation when fighting criminal charges. The law and the penalties for breaking it are constantly shifting and it can be hard for the layperson to mount an adequate courtroom defense. Although the fact that several felony charges have been reclassified as misdemeanors means that there are fewer options to negotiate a deal for reduced charges, defense attorneys can still deploy multiple strategies to have the charges against their client dismissed or for their client to be acquitted at trial.
Although our legal system does allow people to defend themselves, you have a much greater chance of acquittal if you hire an experienced criminal advocate. Whether you've been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, an attorney will put their years of training and experience to work for you.
I've been trying cases in Southern California since 1999, and in that time I've helped hundreds of clients to have the charges against them reduced or dismissed. I'm proud of my record as a criminal defense attorney and the service I've given to my clients over the years.
Practicing the law is always exciting, not just because it's a constantly evolving workplace, but because I get to make a real, positive difference in people's lives. If you need help fighting criminal charges, call Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.