In just about every consultation related to a criminal arrest, I get asked
"Am I going to jail for this?" This is usually followed by "How
long will I be in jail for?"
These are not easily answered questions in any scenario, as many factors
determine whether or not a prosecuting agency will request jail, and even
more factors that determine whether a judge will order it.
There are three types of criminal offenses:
1) Infractions: any offense punishable by at MOST a fine only (think traffic tickets);
2) Misdemeanors: any offense punishable by at MOST one year of local time
in custody (think petty offenses such as thefts, battery, some narcotics
3) Felonies: any offense for which an individual can be sentenced to over
one year of custody time.
Some offenses can be charged as either one or more of these "Levels."
For example, Petty Theft may be a misdemeanor but may also be an infraction.
Another example would be Possession of a Controlled Substance may be charged
as a Felony but might also be charged as a misdemeanor in some cases.
Usually, the nature of the offense determines the punishment that will
be requested by the prosecutor. The more egregious the offense is, the
more severe the punishment. Factors that aggravate or increase the punishment
include but are not limited to the following:
- sophistication behind the criminal activity
- harm to the victims (if there is one)
- the perpetrator's criminal history.
Factors that mitigate or decrease the punishment include but are not limited
to the perpetrators lack of criminal history, the fact that steps have
been made to make the victim whole (if theft alleged, monies have been
paid to compensate the victim) and willingness to acknowledge responsibility
early in the criminal litigation.
One of the main reasons to hire a good, competent criminal defense attorney
is that he will be familiar in handling cases such as yours and can limit
your exposure or minimize the punishments you will face. This can be done
by ensuring that restitution has been paid to victims to minimize the
pressure they will put on the Court to punish.
The answer to the question posed above of whether or not someone is going
to jail depends on many factors. Hiring an experienced criminal defense
attorney early gives that attorney the best chance to help you stay out
of custody and minimize any negative outcomes. Often, if consulted early,
a defense attorney can provide additional information to the prosecuting
office, which may in turn stop or limit the prosecution.
If you, or a loved one, are facing criminal charges, do not wait to consult
with an experienced criminal defense attorney. At
The Law Offices of Jarrod M. Wilfert, we have decades of experience in criminal law
within the unique jurisdiction of Ventura County. We know how cases are prosecuted and how they can be defended. Please
take the opportunity to give us a call at (805)901-9119 for a FREE consultation
with an experienced Ventura Defense Attorney. We can and will help you
to sort out what you are looking at and find that light at the end of