If you have been accused of the criminal offense of misdemeanor battery in San Diego you have a number of rights as a defendant. Understanding those rights is an important part of your defense. For example, you have an absolute right to a jury trial on a misdemeanor battery charge. You also have the right to waive a jury trial either because you have reached a plea agreement with the prosecution or because you prefer to have a judge decide your case.
In California, as is in many states, the criminal offense of battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. When facts in the case, such as the presence of a weapon, make this scenario worse (known as “aggravating” factors) the state of California is more likely to charge you at the felony level. Conversely, when there are factors that appear to make the offense less serious, known as “mitigating” factors, the state is more likely to charge you at the misdemeanor level. In California, conviction of a misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to one year in a County jail and a fine of up to $1000 in most cases.
When you are arrested your first court appearance will be your arraignment. At that time the judge will make sure you understand the charges against you and may discuss bond if you are still in custody. At that time you will enter a plea of “not guilty”. The judge will then go over your constitutional rights with you, including your right to a trial by jury.
The next step in a criminal prosecution is typically the discovery stage, wherein the parties are required to the exchange evidence relating to the case. As the case develops you and your attorney will need to discuss how you ultimately wish to dispose of the case. Of course, the preferred disposition is for the state of California to dismiss the charges against you; however, if that does not appear likely then a defendant typically has three options-enter into a plea agreement, waives the right to a trial by jury and try the case in front of the judge, or proceed to a trial by jury.
If you decide to proceed to a jury trial this means that 12 individuals who are intended to represent a “cross-section” of the community, commonly known as a “jury of your peers” will hear all of the testimony and evidence presented at trial and make a decision. To find you guilty the jury must reach a unanimous decision that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”.