When you are facing criminal charges, it is a difficult time of uncertainty and worry. You probably just wish the whole situation would go away. After all, having a record, even for a misdemeanor, can really mess up your future. What you may not know is that some misdemeanor charges can be dismissed in the state of California through a civil compromise. Let’s investigate what charges can be dismissed and how you can potentially get your charges dismissed.
What Is A Civil Compromise?
In California, Penal Code 1377 and 1378, states that if the victim of a misdemeanor crime declares to the court that they have received adequate compensation for their injuries or damages, then it is at the court’s discretion to allow for the dismissal of charges. The court record must reflect the judgment to prevent future prosecution for the same offense. The victim is also required to sign their agreement with the judgment.
A civil claim results in a monetary judgment paid to the victim. A criminal claim results in fines, potential incarceration, and is entered on your criminal record. A civil compromise allows for the criminal claim to be settled through a civil penalty and removes the misdemeanor status.
What Charges Are Eligible for A Civil Compromise?
Only misdemeanor charges are eligible for civil compromise and not all misdemeanors are eligible. This is because the option is only for crimes that do not affect or harm the community as a whole, not just the victim. Crimes such as petty theft, vandalism, shoplifting, and fraud that are minor enough to carry a misdemeanor status are commonly considered for civil compromise. These charges allow for the victim to be able to be made whole through restitution paid by the defendant. Hit and run charges may be considered if they involve only damage to property, not individuals. The charges must also be found to be unrelated to driving under the influence. Assault charges can only be considered if the offense was minor enough to be a misdemeanor offense, and was not committed against a special victim, elderly person, child, or a family or household member.
Offenses will not be considered for compromise if they are committed against an officer of the law while fulfilling their job duties. The acts committed may not be in violation of a previous court order. The defendant must not have been attempting to commit a felony or acting riotously.
Steps You Can Take If You Have Pending Charges
If you face misdemeanor charges which may qualify for civil compromise, you should speak to your defense attorney about the possibility. The victim will need to appear before the court prior to the trial date to announce that they have been compensated. This means that for a civil compromise to be an option, you will need to speak with the victim directly or with their attorney. Because of the pending charges, you will need to proceed carefully and under the guidance of your attorney. Attempting to contact the victim yourself could result in additional charges or could ruin your chances of a civil compromise. The final decision will not be for the victim to make, it will be according to the judge’s discretion.
Advantages Of A Civil Compromise
Any criminal charge, whether felony or misdemeanor, will have a great impact on your future. Even minor offenses can have a huge impact on your ability to attend college or obtain certain jobs. You may have a more difficult time renting an apartment or house. Possibly the biggest impact is the effect a conviction could have should you be charged in the future due to another offense. Regardless of the new charge, your prior record will be considered when deciding your guilt and your repercussions. Having a criminal charge dismissed, even a misdemeanor, is always more favorable than a conviction.
With more than 25 years of experience, Karren Kenney of Kenney Legal Defense is southern California’s fearless criminal defense attorney. Contact us today for your free case consultation. We are ready to answer your questions about civil compromise or any other legal questions you may have.