A felony is a serious criminal charge that is punishable by prison time and a fine. Felony charges have several consequences such as being barred from voting and sitting on juries. A misdemeanor is less serious crime and may still involve a fine and jail time. Having a charge dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor requires cooperation with the prosecuting office and the court. Most people use a criminal defense lawyer to guide them through the legal system, but the law permits people to represent themselves as "pro se" defendants.
Preparing Your Case
Request a copy of the police report by calling the prosecutor's office. Most offices have an open file police. If you are the defendant, you are usually entitled to have a copy. If you cannot pick up a copy in person, you will need a fax machine to receive a copy.
Request a copy of your criminal history by calling the prosecutor's office. Defendants are entitled to see a copy of their criminal record.
List the names and telephone numbers of all employers, friends and family who will be willing to speak positively on your behalf. Tell these people that they will be expecting a call from law enforcement.
Find a misdemeanor charge you are willing to plead guilty toward. Go online and search for the penal code from the jurisdiction you were charged in. For example, if you were charged by the State of Texas, then search for the Texas Penal Code.
Call the clerk's office and request your case number, amount of court costs and fees for your case, and the next trial date.
Negotiating the Plea Bargain
Schedule an appointment with the prosecutor in your case by calling the prosecutor's office. Request an appointment in person, because this shows the prosecutor you are a real human being.
Tell the prosecutor that you are willing to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge immediately. State the positive aspects of your case including your lack of criminal history, your good reputation in the community and your willingness to accept responsibility.
Request the misdemeanor plea offer in writing. Clarify the terms of the plea. Terms of a plea may include jail time, fines, probation, community service and/or restitution.
Schedule the plea date and time with the prosecutor. Contact the court and confirm the time and location. According to the Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, 90 percent of criminal convictions come from negotiated pleas.
Appear in court and plead guilty to the charge. Serve out the sentence and ensure fines and costs are paid in the time required by the court.
- Probation on a felony may not involve jail time, but it will still be a felony charge.
- If you are concerned about receiving a misdemeanor conviction, ask if your case can be dismissed after serving probation.
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