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I was charged with 11357 (b) possession of under an Ounce of marijuana in CA. I am 24 years old. What should I say in court?

San Diego, CA |

Although I am not required to go to court, I decided to schedule a slot to appear. Now I am rethinking this. It is too late to cancel so now I have to show up. Initially my reason was I would like to request a diversion program so this infraction is expunged and future employers , potentially government ones, do not see this charge on my record.

I do not have a lawyer so I will have to speak for myself. I am guilty of this charge. I would like to know how I should talk to the judge to request a diversion program and how to possibly negotiate a fee reduction. My fine is $280. This is my first offense (including traffic tickets) which shows I have a relatively clean record. Please help.

Thank you.

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Attorney answers 4


First off, let me say that I never, ever recommend that anybody go to court without a lawyer. So if you can get one, do so. That being said, Judges are people too. (gah!) So talk to the judge like you would talk to any other person. Court is scary, so don't be ashamed to write down what you want to say and read it to the judge if you need to. Just explain that you wrote it down because you're nervous and ASK if its ok to read it to him/her. *Note: BE BRIEF! If you pull out a tome to read, s/he's going to shut you down.* You want diversion/conditional discharge? Ask for it. You want a lower fine? Ask for the judge to lower your fine. Do it respectfully, and don't try to schmooze (i.e. suck up/kiss up) because they can smell that junk a mile away. In your request, be sure to point out that you've "never been in any kind trouble before, not even a speeding ticket." And propose a solution to the money problem. "Your honor, I can't afford to pay this much money because __________ (I was laid off, baby is sick, I'm a student, homeless, starving artist, I got robbed, blah blah blah) Is it possible for me to work off some of the fine through community service?"
P.S. Dress for court. Suits are for lawyers (and pimps). A nice button down shirt with a pair of pants, a belt, and shoes (not sneakers or flip flops) is acceptable for you to wear. Good luck!!



Thank you for the advice. I went and was honest with the judge (exactly as you advised) and he gave me a $100 reduction. Thanks for your help!

Sandra G. Dawson

Sandra G. Dawson


Glad I could help.


An infraction is not a criminal conviction. Also, an infraction cannot be expunged. You should seriously consider obtaining a free consultation from a defense attorney about your options. Anything you say, in or out of court, can be used against you. So it's best to leave the talking to an attorney.

Diversion is available in misdemeanor cases, but it's doubtful you would want your current case elevated to that level just for the opportunity to seek diversion. An attorney may be able to work some sort of compromise out with the Court so you won't have the infraction on your record.

Law Office of Andrew Limberg, APLC 380 S. Melrose Dr., #329 Vista, CA 92081 (760) 806-4381


You should be able to talk to a PD before arraignment or, if it is an infraction, possibly a law student who will be able to guide you through the process. They will speak for you other than you saying 'guilty'. Try to get a medical license before your court date and maybe the DA will drop the charge..

Thomas A. Schaeffer, Esq. Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216, San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 This posting is provided for "informational purposes" only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principals discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different States.


If you want to plead guilty to the infraction, then do so. Infractions ARE eligible for expungement (since 2011 I believe), but you will likely have to wait one year. Infractions are not crimes thus you should not have to worry about this case showing up on most general background checks.

But it's always better to hire a locally experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure the best results.

Law Offices of David Shapiro 3555 4th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 295-3555

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