Pleading Guilty or No Contest to a Crime

When it comes to whether or not a person is going to be placed on probation or whether or not that person will be sent to prison and then put on parole, this has a lot to do with several different factors. First and foremost, the authorities will look at the type of crime you've committed.

Suppose you're a first-time offender of a non-violent crime, a lot of times. In that case, those people are going to get probation, and they'll have to report to the probation department, and they'll be given specific terms and conditions of probation. People get confused when they think that because you got probation, you didn't get any criminal conviction.

To be placed on probation, whether a misdemeanor or felony probation, you've got to plead guilty or no contest to a charge. That's how the judge has the authority to put you on probation in the first place.

Probation vs. Prison on Criminal Cases in California

So, if they're talking about putting you on probation, that means they're going to want you to plead guilty or no contest to a crime.  That's the first important thing you need to know about probation. The second thing is just because somebody gets a probationary sentence doesn't mean they're not going into custody and doesn't mean they're not going into jail.

For a felony case, you could get probation and be put in jail for one year, or you could get probation and be placed in custody for no time or anywhere in between. So, just because you get probation doesn't mean you don't get jailed.

Serving a Small Percentage of Time in County Jail

In today's county jail environment in Los Angeles county, for cases being prosecuted and punished in the San Fernando Valley, those individuals will either be housed in county jail or Wayside or even Twin Towers. And even they do get a jail sentence anywhere from 0 to a year in jail, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll serve the whole time. The percentage of time is tiny:

  • either 10% to 25% depending on the type of crime, and
  • how crowded it is in the county jail.

It's been that way now for close to a decade that I've been practicing criminal defense.  So, it gives you a fighting chance to get out of there quickly.

New Polices by Los Angeles District Attorney

When you talk about going to prison on a case in the San Fernando Valley, that's usually going to be somebody with a criminal record or a serious and violent felony. One big thing though, that you should take into account as I write this post is the new policies by the Los Angeles County District Attorney who will be dealing with cases in

New Polices by Los Angeles District Attorney

The San Fernando Valley and the other 38 courts in LA county have indicated that he wants his prosecutors to presume that the case they're looking at is a probation case. They can only seek prison if it's some serious or violent felony:

But beyond that, they're to assume it's a probation case.  If they think they want to give a sentence of prison instead of probation, the prosecutor feels that he will have to justify it. They have to send a memo up to the powers in the DA's office and make the final decision, whether a defendant is offered prison to settle a case.

So, when you talk about probation versus prison, the prosecutors have a big say-so, and right now, the pendulum has swung in a criminal defendant's favor. Another entity, though, that has the say-so is the judge.  So, your attorney will have to know how to work between the judge and the prosecutors to get you the best possible resolution if you're facing prison in a criminal case.

Coronavirus Impact on Prison Time

The final important factor when you're talking probation versus prison is that right now, again, as I write this post and it's been this way for several months since the Coronavirus, nobody is going to prison. The prison can't take people because of how they're set up.  Once somebody comes into prison, many of those people bring in the Coronavirus, so the prisons have shut down.

Coronavirus Impact on California Prison Time

So, you have a lot of people right now who are serving sentences in the county jail that are prison sentences, but because they can't go into prison, they end up serving their sentence — a lot of them their entire sentence — in the county jail. This is not good because you'd instead serve a prison sentence in prison. After all, typically, depending on what type of a crime it is:

  •  you're only doing a third of the time for a case where you're sent to prison;
  • whereas, in the county jail, you probably do a little bit more of the time, possibly half of the time, if you've got a prison case.

The bottom line is nobody wants to go to prison.  Nobody wants to go to jail.

Criminal Defense for California Crimes

The best chance you have to stay out of prison or stay out of jail and protect your record is to hire a criminal defense attorney like me. I've been doing this for 27 years, handling thousands of cases throughout the San Fernando Valley and knowing what it takes to get you the best result.

Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you. Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County, and we offer a free case consultation by phone or by filling out our contact form.