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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Kern County, California

    Question Can the Court Change the Charge After Conviction in Trial

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: California

    I was arrested and detained for a violation of PC 288 lewd acts with a child under 14 ( a felony ). The day I was supposed to go to court they released me and I was never formally charged, but I was informed that they had a year to file.

    A few months later in regard to the same matter a warrant was issued for my arrest and I was charged with PC 647.6 Child Annoy/Molest ( a misdemeanor ). I was ready to take it to trial and fight it tooth and nail, but my public defender told me that if I lost in trial they could change the charge to the felony they were originally going for, so I ended up pleading no contest. I believe she used a specific term for the change, but I don't remember what it was. It might have been a legal term though.

    However I now find myself questioning the legality of such a move. What I plead to, to the best of my knowledge, isn't a misdemeanor form of a more serious charge, but a totally different charge. If I am convicted on one charge how can they then change it to something else with different standards of proof afterward? Or am I misunderstanding something?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Can the Court Change the Charge After Conviction in Trial

    I suspect that your public defender told you that if you took the charge to trial, they could seek to increase the charge back up to the felony and try you on the felony; but the judge can't unilaterally increase the charge after trial. (Even before trial, although a judge may rule on the sufficiency of evidence in support of a charge or may have to grant permission to add a charge once the prosecution has commenced, the charging decision belongs to a prosecutor, not a judge.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Kern County, California

    Default Re: Can the Court Change the Charge After Conviction in Trial

    Well I don't remember her explanation sounding like what you've suggested, but it does make a great deal more sense than what I was suspecting. She may have worded it in such a way as to cause me to misinterpret it.

    Regardless, even if she did lie to me, paying money I don't have to take legal action that wouldn't improve my situation anyway doesn't seem very prudent to me.

    Thank you for your prompt response to my post.

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