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Brent Blanchard
Brent Blanchard, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1975
Experience:  Separation of powers means what it says.
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My 18 year old college freshman son and a college friend were

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My 18 year old college freshman son and a college friend were each cited with a misdemeanor California code CCR14 630 B 7, for climbing on the Morro Bay Rock at Morro Bay, Ca. My son has never been in trouble before. He has the option of paying a $700 fine and/or appearing in court. His last day of school and finals are this Friday,June 14th. He will then be coming home for the summer. It would be difficult for him to return to court. What are his possible consequences if he just pays the fine?
I have spoken with a court clerk and was advised that this would go on a "criminal record".
Thank you for your question. Sorry about that rock apparently being forbidden territory.

Court clerks cannot give legal advice but they can speak truth about public records and such. Paying a fine constitutes a guilty plea, a public confession of wrongdoing, and a final and almost-always irrevocable criminal conviction.

In this case, conviction of a misdemeanor.

That's the legal side.

The non-legal side is a brutally honest assessment of who in the world will care about this...

a. between now and when the criminal conviction can be expunged or sealed; AND

b. if the suspect gets the criminal record expunged or sealed later on, who will STILL care about it?

Please note that more and more entities, governmental and private regulatory, demand full disclosure of EVERYTHING (usually other than misdemeanor *traffic* and parking offenses) regardless of the subject having what appears to be a legal right to answer "no convictions" to that most distressing of questions. For example, getting a license to practice law, or a securities or insurance sales license.

THAT's why people are willing to spend $1,000 on an attorney to negotiate a $700 fine offense "down" to something else. One jurisdiction I know of has a tradition of taking medium traffic offenses down to "non-moving violations", but often with traffic school AND paying the FULL fine.

Just saw a DMV driving record last week from one person whose attorney had accomplished the same sort of "no record" status using another jurisdiction's tradition called a "plea in abeyance"--a conditional guilty plea, paying the full fine, and then the case getting dismissed *without conviction* a year later IF the person gets ZERO traffic citations. Last one I negotiated (for someone else) had only a six-month "stay clean" period.

So, to try to get a "plea bargain", one generally needs to enter a not guilty plea (which can often be done by a hired attorney without the person being there--but check the court FIRST), then have the attorney show up to the pre-trial session and negotiate with the prosecutor.

Unless the suspect can live with all of the consequences of the misdemeanor criminal conviction.

Thank you.

Brent Blanchard and other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your feedback on this situation. What would potential consequences be in this type of misdemeanor? Based on my understanding of your feedback, maybe not much consequence?


Yes, usually misdemeanors truly are and remain minor things, so long as no domestic violence is involved (thank you very much, late Congresscritter Lautenberg).

But because of the usually-rare chance that what appears unimportant now might become a problem later on, we attorneys like to:

1. alert people to the consequences of even "minor" convictions, and

2. never let someone admit in court to the "full value" of any charged offense--unless in exchange for getting a few OTHER ones completely dropped.

Thank you.

I must add that further research has shown that California is different from most states in that convictions there are neither expunged nor sealed, but "set aside" under an unusual court procedure.

All of the other cautions about being required to report the conviction despite it being "set aside" still apply. One interesting detail is that everything must be reported in full when applying to do business with the California Lottery authorities.

One of my colleagues pointed this out to me.

Thank you.

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