Clerk’s Arraignments for Misdemeanors in California Criminal Court

In California, arraignments are generally the first time that a criminal defendant makes their appearance in court. Every arraignment is slightly different because no two cases and no two courts are exactly the same. If you are facing misdemeanor criminal charges in California and want to learn more about what happens at an arraignment, I have video on my Youtube channel about it. Depending on the particular court you’re in, the judge you’re in front of, etc, you may have the option of doing something called a Clerk’s Arraignment instead. It is what it sounds like — you get arraigned in front of a court clerk (i.e. a non-judge who just works for the court) as opposed to an actual judge or court commissioner. Some of you might be going ‘Whoa, what? Is that legal?’ The answer is that it is, but – in my experience at least – it is not common. I would guess that I encounter it less than 10% of the time on misdemeanor cases. All of those are on cases where the defendant has his or her own attorney (i.e. not the public defender). I have never seen a Clerk’s Arraignment done in a case where the defendant is appearing without a lawyer. If you have, leave me a comment down below. There are many reasons why a Clerk’s Arraignment might be done. One is speed. For the vast majority of misdemeanor cases, arraignment is routine and uneventful for an attorney to do. Additionally, misdemeanors are very common so it is not unusual for an attorney to wait in line for 45 or more...

Law School Help: California Criminal – Carjacking

I’m guessing a lot of you know what carjacking is — namely, the stealing of a car from another’s possession. I might be wrong, but I think carjacking started happening in the 1980s or so in California when those wanting to steal a vehicle realized that stealing a parked vehicle with no keys was rather difficult. Stealing a vehicle that had been unlocked and started by the owner was much easier and all the thief had to do was threaten the owner. Anyway, in California, the criminal offense of carjacking is defined in California Penal Code section 215(a) which states: “‘Carjacking’ is the felonious taking of a motor vehicle in the possession of another, from his or her person or immediate presence, or from the person or immediate presence of a passenger of the motor vehicle, against his or her will and with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person in possession of the motor vehicle of his or her possession, accomplished by means of force or fear.” Clearly this is a mouthful, but if you break it down, the basic elements of a carjacking are: the taking by means of force or fear of a motor vehicle that is in the possession of another,¬†including a passenger of the motor vehicle from the person or the immediate presence of that other, against the will of the possessor with the intent to deprive the possessor of their possession of said vehicle Each of these elements could, in theory, be the source of disagreement between the prosecution and the defense. For instance, the prosecution might say the vehicle...

Criminal Battery in California

In a previous post, I described the offense of civil battery in California. This post is about how battery is treated under California criminal law. To remind you, the end result of criminal law is the defendant undergoes some form of incarceration (e.g. jail time, probation, etc) while the end result in civil law is to obtain a money judgment or injunctive relief of some kind for the injured plaintiff. Regardless of whether you look at it under civil law or criminal law, a battery is — in essence — the defendant hitting the plaintiff in some way. Civilly, this is phrased as a harmful or offensive touching by the defendant against the plaintiff resulting in injury. California defines criminal battery in California Penal Code section 242 as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” (I encourage you to actually look up section 242 as it is surprisingly short. That quote above is, literally, all it says.) The potential sentence for battery is described in California Penal Code section 243(a) which is, unfortunately, much longer and a more difficult read than section 242. The sentence for battery depends, at a minimum, on who the victim is¬†(e.g. spouse, police officer, etc) and how serious the resulting injury is. Criminal sentencing in general and California in particular can be confusing and complicated. As always, if you have any doubt about your particular situation, consult an...