What’s starts a criminal case in California court?

A criminal case begins when the prosecuting attorney files a case in court against someone for committing a crime against the State of California. If you are found guilty of a crime, you face paying fines, probation, jail and/or prison.

What are the types of crimes in California?


An infraction is a minor violation. Many traffic violations are infractions. The punishment for infractions is usually a fine, and if you pay the fine, there is no jail time.


A misdemeanor is a crime with a maximum punishment of either 6 months or 1 year in a county jail, and/or a $1,000 fine.  Some examples are: assault, battery, driving on a suspended license, trespassing, drunk in public, disorderly conduct, domestic violence, petty theft, prostitution, shoplifting, solicitation of prostitution, vandalism, violation of protective order, and DUI.


A felony is the most serious kind of crime. California also has a list of serious felonies and violent felonies. If found guilty, you can be sent to county jail and/or state prison. Some examples are: arson, assault with a deadly weapon or instrument on a peace officer, carjacking, extortion, embezzlement, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, kidnapping, robbery or bank robbery, murder, voluntary manslaughter, lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14 years of age, mayhem, rape, oral copulation, sexual penetration, possession of illegal drugs for sale.

4. Wobblers:

A wobbler is a crime that may be punished as either a misdemeanor or felony.  Some examples are: assault with a deadly weapon, sexual battery, theft, spousal battery, domestic violence cases, burglary, drug cases, and DUI causing injury.

What is bail and how is it set?

The amount of bail is set by a schedule in each county. If you fail to appear in court, your bail will be lost and a new warrant will be issued for your arrest. If you cannot post bail, you will be kept in custody. In some cases, instead of paying bail, you might be released on your own recognizance or “O.R.” Your criminal defense lawyer or DUI attorney can make a motion for bail reduction or bail review in court.

What happens at my arraignment?

You learn what charges the prosecutor has filed against you. You may enter a plea to the criminal charges filed against you. If you have been arrested, you have the right to be arraigned on any charges usually within two court days. At the arraignment, you can plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty, or waive time to enter a plea. Plea negotiations can also take place at the arraignment.

Won’t the judge and prosecutor just believe what’s written in the police report, and there is no way I can beat DUI or criminal charges?

Absolutely, not!  There are many defenses and ways to reduce or get rid of a DUI or criminal charges.  If you’re considering not hiring a really good lawyer or thinking about choosing a random lawyer, you should probably think twice.