Summary: Information from San Jose sponsor Attorney on common plea agreements in San Jose Courts. How to get a failure to appear dismissed, get a misdemeanor reduced, or DUI charges reduced to a wet and reckless charge. Attorney notes on what happens in real cases.
Here is a list of current common plea offers / agreements that appear in the San Jose Courts written by Attorney Christopher Dort. These are not guaranteed results, and do not apply to all cases. All plea agreements require agreement of the District Attorney and Judge and vary according to the facts of a case. But this is a good reference for speculating.
Shoplifting / Theft Cases:
Where the original charges are misdemeanor theft (Penal Code section 488 or PC 484), we have had some success in getting the charges reduced to an infraction in cases where the amount of the theft is low, or where this is a problem with a witness. Getting an infraction instead of a misdemeanor is important on these cases when possible to protect the client from a criminal record that will interfere with employment opportunities.
Driving on a Suspended License Charges (Vehicle Code section 14601.1):
VC 14601.1 charges are normally reduced to a VC 12500a misdemeanor once a valid drivers license is shown. Sometimes, an attorney can negotiate a reduction to a 12500a infraction.
VC 14601.2 charges are sometimes reduced to 14601.5 with no jail time if the defendant has a valid drivers license. No drivers license will get you 10 days jail.
1st Offense Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (Vehicle Code section 23152):
California DUI cases almost always include 2 misdemeanor charges: Count 1 is VC23152(a) and Count 2 is: VC23152(b).
The District Attorney will usually dismiss one of these 2 misdemeanor charges for a guilty plea to the other. This is the routine disposition of a DUI case.
Defendants who go in without an attorney and plead guilty right away run the risk of getting convicted of 2 misdemeanors (both counts), and thereby make theor problem twice as bad (2 convictions, rather than 1).
DUI Defendants going to court and who want to plead guilty right away on their own should ask the court for a dismissal of count 1 in exchange for a plea of no contest to count 2.
An Attorneys help on a DUI case is usually worth the money for many reasons. For a free DUI Attorney case review in San Jose or Palo Alto, contact Attorney Christopher Dort (email@example.com).
2nd Offense DUI Cases in Santa Clara:
The most common sentence for a second offense DUI case in Santa Clara County is 30 days in county jail, fine of approx $2400, 5 years of probation, 18 months of substance abuse treatment, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device on defendant's vehicle(s).
Bench Warrants for Failure to Appear in Traffic Court:
Judges will often recall VC 40508a bench warrants without payment of bail and additional penalties in most minor misdemeanor cases if the defendant goes to court voluntarily and admits guilt to underlying case, as long as the problem is recent. An Attorney can usually go to court and get a warrant recalled without the defendant present (except some DUI probation violation warrants).
Traffic Infraction With Failure to Appear
(Listed as VC 40508(a) "Misdemeanor" on the court's web site).
Defendants who demand a court appearance (Arraignment) on the case should object to the use of the Commissioner by saying "I do not consent to allow a Commissioner to hear my misdemeanor case".
When presented with this objection in court, the Commissioner is likely to (and routinely does) dismiss the VC 40508a misdemeanor charge to avoid sending the case to a real judge. Ironically, Defendants with infraction/40508a cases and who waste the court's time by demanding a court appearance are likely to be rewarded, because of the Commissioner problem.
The Santa Clara County Superior Court Traffic Division rewards people for wasting the court's time and should review how they accept payments on failure to appear cases.
Until then, demanding a court date and refusing to allow a Commissioner to hear your infraction / 40508a case is better than paying the fine by mail or over the phone at the clerks office.