Felony is a serious offense that can certainly lead to jail time if you are found guilty. Apart from being incarcerated in prison, felony crimes go with severe punishment that will last even after your incarceration period. The punishment, in this case, can include: incurring probation costs, going through tough probation terms, paying fines, penalties, and so on.
Truth is, not all felonies are equal. Punishment for a felonious crime rightly depends on the level of severity and the method in which the crime was committed, as well as the character of the offender. Knowing that being confined to prison is a severe punishment, most people have been looking for ideas on how to avoid that possible jail time.
It is better for your freedom and your future aspirations that you take proactive steps in avoiding possible jail time for a felony. Thankfully, this article offers you fifteen key steps that can help you avoid felony charges presented against you.
Can You Have a Felony Charge and Not Go to Jail?
Most times, people who are charged with felony charges are not immediately incarcerated in prison. This does not work in every situation but with the help of an experienced felony criminal defense lawyer, you will have to explore a myriad of options that will greatly help you to avoid jail time.
15 Ways on How to Avoid Jail Time for Felony
1). Maintain Calmness
Being in prison, even for one night has a debilitating effect on someone who has never been in that kind of trouble. It is even difficult to resist narrating your own side of the story to the law enforcement agents. If you are innocent of an alleged crime, being interrogated or quizzed by the police can be a frightening and intimidating experience. The fact is that the police and other intelligent officers are well-groomed to convince you that it will be gainful if you open up and tell them your part of the story.
With this, you should know that the very moment you are arrested, you no longer have control of your fate. The police now have absolute control of whatever will happen to you. In fact, you will be thrown into confinement once the police have strong evidence that you committed a felonious crime, no matter the method you adopt to present your story.
It is natural to defend yourself at the time of the arrest. Nevertheless, in this case, you might be endangering your right if you do so. Apart from being accused of drug trafficking, murder, and a few severe felony charges, you might see yourself out of jail as you allow your defense counsel to help present your side of the story. Just remain calm.
2). Know What Felony Charge You Are Facing
Most people do not understand the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. This clearly means that they do not know the weight and seriousness of the offense they are being accused of and the dire consequences they would likely face if they are found guilty.
Normally, a crime is being punished within a specified time frame, depending on the country or state. However, felonies carry stiffer punishments like steep fines and long terms of probation. At this point, the convicted individual may lose many rights. You may lose the right to own a firearm, the right to vote, and you may be denied to serve in public service.
Therefore, it is advised that before you begin to negotiate your freedom, it is important to understand what you want to let go by denying your right to a panel hearing, as well as your right to remain calm.
3). Hire an Expert Attorney Immediately
One of the smartest steps to take in defending yourself against a felony charge is to hire an experienced lawyer. Each moment you spend in custody without having a lawyer fight for you is very frustrating. It is very essential that you immediately hire a professional criminal defense counsel immediately you are accused of a particular crime.
Obviously, the prosecuting officer will be well informed about the intricacies of the law that you did not know. They will know how to convince you to agree to a particular plea bargain that may seem to be your favorite option. Having your personal lawyer will help balance the arrangement and guide you in rejecting what looks like an easy plea bargain, even when it does not favor you.
Also, your lawyer can help you to communicate your rights so that you don’t get yourself in the trouble of being convicted. You should know that the prosecuting officer and the police will be working to indict you. In this case, you need a well-experienced attorney to fight your way to freedom.
4). Tell Your Lawyer the Truth
Trusting a total stranger with your personal information is very difficult, particularly when it can implicate you in going to prison if the wrong gets to know. Nevertheless, criminal defense lawyers are highly obligated by the oath of office, to keep the client’s secret. This means that they are not supposed to broadcast your information to anyone, even if it will indict you. For your criminal defense lawyer to accurately evaluate, present, and argue your case, that lawyer would need to know the whole truth about your matter.
This is why it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney that you really trust with your secret, and is ready to help fight for your freedom. The relationship between a client and an attorney is bounded by honor, and the information which is exchanged is private. Your lawyer could face penalties by the Bar Association should he expose your information, and may even lose his certificate to practice law.
Well, your duty is just, to be honest, and supply details to your criminal defense lawyer. The accuracy of the information you supply to your lawyer would determine how well your lawyer will evaluate your case and help you avoid serving prison time for your felony case.
5). Don’t Discuss Your Case with Family and Friends
When accused of a felony, it will be helpful if you don’t discuss your matter with any family member or close friend. Sometimes, the relationship between the lawyer and the client does extend to their workers. Nevertheless, you need to make sure that no one hears about your case. The act of confidentiality does not secure the information you give to your friends and family members. For example, they can possibly pass the information to the police.
This confidentiality measure also applies to spouses, as the information they both exchanged is protected by an Evidence Code. The importance of this arrangement is that it gives your spouse control over the possibility of testifying against you if they are a possible victim.
A spousal Evidence Code states that the person accused during a criminal hearing has the right to stop the spouse of the accused person from testifying any private matter between the spouse and the accused. What this actually means is that you can possibly stop your spouse from testifying against you.
If the information is not meant to be disclosed, the prosecution officer cannot require your spouse to testify against you. Nevertheless, the best thing to do at this point is to avoid speaking with anyone about your case or answer any question relating to your case. This will really help you to avoid any possible damage to your matter, and also help avoid any possible jail time for a felony.
6). Attend Every Court Hearing
An individual facing criminal charges can only appoint their criminal defense lawyer to represent them in court. This means that the defendant can decide not to appear in court at all. This however, is different from felony cases; rather, the procedure will require the defendant to attend a court hearing.
In a felony case, the defendant must be available for the arraignment, pretrial conferences, preliminary hearing, and the time of plea; which has to do with the presentation of the evidence to the judge. Some laws can even place the burden on the defendant to know the place, date, and time of the hearing of your felony case. Therefore, it is very essential that you keep your record and get an experienced criminal defense lawyer that will help you in attending all your court hearing.
In fact, your defense lawyer is supposed to help you with a schedule of the appearing and hearings of your case. Ensure you set alarms and reminders on your mobile phone or ask a close friend or family member to help you with reminders.
Remember that if you fail to appear in court, it may not augur well with the prosecuting officer and that may lead to a possible arrest.
Unfortunately, every failure to attend court hearings attracts a warrant for arrest which cannot be revoked. This means that if you did not appear in court, your lawyer cannot convince the judge to pardon your absence.
It is, therefore, advised that you try your possible best to know and attend every scheduled court hearing on your felony case.
7). Help your Defense
Apart from getting a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer, you still need to put in more effort in helping your defense. The first thing to do is to carefully listen and trust your criminal defense lawyer. Secondly, it is apt you develop a formidable record of being an active member of your community, a this will help your case.
Here are a few factors that can help narrate how productive you are to society:
- Complete Assignments
Normally, a professional criminal defense lawyer will give you assignments to complete, while your case is yet to be determined. As you meet with your lawyer, you may be required to write a statement, find the contact details of your witnesses, take pictures of certain locations, and other sensitive tasks. Just as I mentioned earlier in this write-up, it is essential you discuss with your criminal defense lawyer before an investigation begins.
- Community Service
After meeting and discussing with your criminal defense lawyer, doing social work for your community can greatly help your case. You should also be mindful that judges and prosecuting officers try to favor defendants who are involved in community service. Additionally, doing social work in the community may be a condition of probation and you can possibly avert this condition too.
Your criminal defense lawyer can clearly put up your biography if he or she has adequate information about you. This is why most attorneys request that their clients put up a life story about themselves, which talks about both their good and bad times. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a comprehensive story; just make it short and informative, but part of your duty is to tell the human side of your story, which should appeal to the prosecuting officer about you.
You can present your lawyer with pictures of different events or activities of your life. Telling stories of your life is very important in criminal defense and no one can help your lawyer tell a better story of your life other than you.
8). Write Down What You Remember
One of the most important things that one who has been accused of a felony can do is to write down salient points about the case immediately. You are in the better position to supply your criminal defense lawyer with correct information, provided you can still remember them; and the best way to make sure it remains fresh is to immediately write down the events that led to your arrest. Do not forget to include where you were and the person you were with at the time of the crime.
At the very time, you are arrested, the prosecution officer will start documenting every available information, just to have a strong case to indict you. This is the reason you need to avail of a piece of accurate information.
9). Plead your Case to the Judge
At times, clients facing charges for a felony will present a plea to the judge and request a simple and rational sentence. This comes when the convicted does not want to be tried and when his case was not resolved with a plea agreement with the prosecuting officer. This process is normally termed a ‘’Blind plea’’; which expressly means that you register a plea. Nevertheless, you may not know the result. Your lawyer will avail of all the evidence to support your stand. That is, vindication and your lawyer will present their own part of the matter.
In most cases, a blind plea can produce a favorable result than what the prosecuting officer can offer you on your felony case. However, this option should not be taken casually and should only be carried out with the guidance of a professional criminal defense lawyer.
Here are the things you can present to the judge in case you enter a blind plea:
- Giving an account of your past criminal record or the events that took place in those cases
- The acceptance of your responsibility
- The type of punishment that suits your charges and a plea for an easy sentence
- An optional or suggested plan to avoid any possible reoccurrence of the unscrupulous event, and
- A Pre-sentence Investigation.
10). Identify Witnesses
Immediately you make a statement or the explanation of the event that led to your arrest, also write down the full details of any person that can give a favorable testimony about your case. It will be very helpful if you do this early so as to get all witnesses that can help you support your defense.
Now, the first step to take is to write down every witness or a particular witness who was visibly present at the time of the alleged crime. With this, your criminal defense lawyer can follow upon all these witnesses and see if their part of the story tallies with your account.
Secondly, get character witnesses who can help testify about your person because what they can say to support you will greatly help in presenting your defense. Any information that indicates that you are not the type of individual who can commit such alleged felony crime is not in the character, as you would now hep your criminal defense lawyer in your defense.
Prosecuting officers are always very busy with many cases to search deep into the testimony of witnesses. Please note that your criminal defense lawyer has the duty to defend and promote your interest against any felony charge.
The task of finding witnesses and their accounts about you will help your hired defense lawyer to defend your interest and convincingly tell the prosecution why you should not be jailed.
11). Remain Silent; It’s Your Right
I believe you have heard or seen a crime scene where it is said ‘’you have the right to remain silent, or anything you say will be used against you in the court of law’’. This popular statement is just the law. The statement actually portends that you have the Constitutional Right to remain silent so as not to implicate yourself.
Emphatically, the easiest way to avoid implicating yourself is just to remain silent. You and your criminal defense lawyer for a felony can evaluate the allegations and the statements from various witnesses before you talk to the police, and then he can advise you whether you should or not make any statement.
In case you have been arrested and in the custody of the police, please do not speak to anyone without the knowledge of your criminal defense lawyer.
12). Don’t Post Bail without Consulting a Lawyer
Most people are very fast in arranging for bail for a close relative or loved one at the point of arrest, even before consulting a lawyer. This is a very wrong move, as it is not healthy in a felony case.
What you need to do is to first consult an experienced defense lawyer who can guide you in making the wise decision regarding bail. This is how it works:
Your criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the shreds of evidence of the case and see if the bail should be dropped or if it is possible at that time, depending on the circumstances at hand.
Your criminal defense lawyer has the experience to tell you if your offenses would be lowered at the time of arraignment. If that is possible, then the accused would likely be released from custody within three days without the need to post bail.
The charge fee for a bondsman is ten percent. Once you get a criminal defense lawyer, you have the right to get a discount of the bondsman fee from the said ten percent to eight percent. For example, if the bail is ten thousand dollars, then you will be having a savings of two thousand dollars.
13). Alternative Programs
Most county criminal courts provide different types of diversion programs that will qualify you in avoiding a possible jail time on your felony case. There is no assured hope of being a member of any of the programs. Nevertheless, if you wish to register a plea agreement in your felony case, and not wanting to fight your freedom through a court hearing, embarking on an alternative program will be the best option for you.
Examples of these diversion programs are; Drug Court, Veteran’s Diversion, Community Sentencing, and Mental Health Court.
Many felony cases are often settled by a variety of plea agreements or a dismissal by the prosecuting officer. Cooperating with your criminal defense lawyer to establish a formidable defense; and at the same time developing vindication and mitigation of the reasons behind your arrest is a bold step, except you are innocent of the accusation. If this happens, then you need to defend your right in any way you can.
15). Do Not Discuss Your Case
When accused of a felony, it is possible to experience an emotional and mental difficulty while in prison custody and awaiting a resolution of your case. At this point, you should not discuss your matter with anybody; either physically or over the telephone. You should be informed that most phone calls are recorded and the police can easily use it against you in court.
To conclude, it is now evident that there are several ways you can avoid jail time for any felony case presented against you. I believe the points listed in this article can help you.
Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.