Skip to navigation


Dale Gribow Nov. 30, 2014

If you went to Coachella, Stagecoach or Tachevah and got arrested for DUI, Possession of Drugs or Minor in Possession of False ID or Alcohol... you better understand the legal criminal terms below

Criminal Act: A criminal act is an act committed by a person, against the public, that violates a California law and which is punishable by the government. It can be any act, omission or possession which poses a threat to the public.

Arraignment: This is the first court appearance for both a misdemeanor and felony where the defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Miranda Warning: This is the statement officers recite to individuals taken into police custody where they advise them of their right to remain silent and to have an attorney. One of the most common concerns I get from new clients is "but they did not read me my Miranda rights". I explain that these rights ONLY have to be administered IF law enforcement is going to question you. With many cases police can make a case without asking any questions and obtaining any info from the arrestee.

Misdemeanor: A crime for which the punishment is usually a fine and or up to a YEAR in the county jail. Sometimes a crime that is a misdemeanor for the first offense becomes a felony for repeated offenses.

Any crime not a misdemeanor is a Felony which carries over a year in PRISON... instead of jail. This is hard time.

Nolo Contendere: The INDIO Court does not accept a NOLO plea which is the NO CONTEST we see on TV. Thus our local defendants have to enter a plea of guilty instead of Nolo. It has the same effect as a plea of guilty as far as a criminal sentence is concerned. However it may not be considered as an admission of guilt for any other purpose such as a related civil case. In other words, on a DUI with injuries the lawyer handling the civil accident case for the victim can not refer to the guilty plea and must prove liability (guilt).

Plea Bargain: This is a negotiated agreement between the defense and the prosecution in a criminal case. Typically the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a specified charge in exchange for an oral promise of a lower sentence. However the Indio DA's are not very eager to enter into a plea bargain. They have a lot of young lawyers that want to put a notch on their belt by trying more cases.

Preliminary Hearing: This is also called a Preliminary Examination. It is a legal proceeding used with a felony whereby the DA has to show that a crime has been committed and the defendant is "connected" with the crime. It is not the guilt beyond a reasonable doubt standard...yet.

Pre Trial Hearing: This is the misdemeanor proceeding after an arraignment where the DA and the defense attorney get a chance to talk to see if there is a basis of a plea to something. If so then this is the DA's proposed sentence he would recommend to the judge.

Probable Cause (PC): A police officer must have PC... which is a reasonable belief that the person has committed a crime. For instance, when an officer sees a car speeding, making an unsafe lane change or with a broken tail light, he now has probable (reasonable) cause to stop the car. If the officer then smells alcohol, sees a bag of drugs or a gun on the front seat, he can further investigate for a possible DUI, possession or sales of drugs or possession of a loaded firearm etc.

Prosecutor: This is the lawyer (DA) representing the county who brings and tries the case

Public Defender: This is the attorney appointed by the judge to represent an indigent.

Reasonable Doubt: Generally in a criminal case a defendant is entitled to a not guilty if, in the minds of the judge or jury, guilt has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Rules of Evidence: These are the standards governing whether evidence (information) in a civil or criminal case is admissible. Not all evidence is admissible and it is hard for a client to understand why a lawyer will not be able to submit certain evidence in the trial.

Witness: This is the person who comes to court and swears under oath to give truthful evidence as to his knowledge of facts in issue between either party in a case.

Sentencing: If a defendant pleads guilty or goes to trial and is found guilty, then the judge decides the penalty (sentence) to be imposed. This could include jail time, probation and or a fine.