Skip to main content

Charged with felony-first offense. What to expect?

Palm Desert, CA |

My husband stole some tools from work and got caught trying to sell them. He is being charged with a felony. First count penal code 487, second count 503, third count 496. This is his first offense. He has never been in trouble before. This was a dumb mistake which he desperately regrets, however there are no excuses. He can't go to jail because he is the only person who takes care of our children, 3 years old and 8 months old, since he obviously got fired and I had to get a job. What are the odds he can get a lower sentence and not do jail time? Also should I try and find a lawyer, although I can't afford one, or wait for a court appointed one? Please help!

+ Read More

Attorney answers 2


Any time a person is charged with a felony there is a real possibility of jail time. If he has never been in trouble before, he is a good candidate for probation and possibly can avoid jail time. If he is sentenced to jail, there is the possibility he can do weekends or community work program in lieu of jail time. It really depends on all the factors, such as the DA and the court as well as your husband. As far as lawyers go, if you really cannot afford one (in other words you have no money to hire one, not that it will be uncomfortable) you have no choice but to ask the court to appoint a lawyer. Of course, you must qualify for this and the court will ask about your assets and have you state this information under penalty of perjury to determine if you can afford a lawyer. The court will make the determination if you get a court appointed lawyer. The question is, do you want to have some input into who your lawyer is? If you can hire a lawyer, at least you will have the ability to interview that lawyer among others and make the decision which lawyer is best for you and if they have the qualifications to assist you. You do not get this option with a court appointed lawyer. Court appointed lawyers also have heavy case loads. They simply do not have the time to meet and discuss your case with you and consider the choices that are best for you given your life circumstances. There are good court appointed lawyers, and bad - just like private lawyers. The question is how much do you want to leave to chance?

Good luck.

Edward R. Flores


You husband is in some real trouble. I know you said you can't afford a criminal defense lawyer but this is the time when you really need to see if you can make that happen.

1. You should start by calling on any and all people (friends and family) who can lend you some money. This is not the time to be shy ...let them know the exact situation and you may be surprised by who is willing to help. Exhaust all possible options and then you will know what money you have available to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
2. If you find that you do have some money for a lawyer, determine what your budget. What can you pay a lawyer to get started ($2000 or $3000 or whatever) and what can you pay on a monthly basis.

3. Contact criminal defense lawyers who are VERY familiar with the court in which your husbands case is being filed. I noticed that you are from Palm Desert. If that is where your husbands case is then that is where you attorney should practice most. If it's a Riverside County case, then you need a Riverside County criminal defense lawyer. This will only serve to maximize your chances of getting your husband a "no jail" deal if it is even in the cards for him.

4. Don't delay. Time is of the essence. At the very least, almost all criminal defense lawyers give free consultations. Therefore, you might as well get some free information. Don't worry about the money, worry about what the lawyer is saying about the case and how they are communicating with you. If you like the lawyer, then you deal with whether you can afford the lawyer.

Beware are in position where all you want to hear is that your husband is not going to jail. Many criminal defense lawyers will know this and use this to build your hopes by telling you things you want to hear. The right criminal defense lawyer will be honest with you about what is possible. There are no guarantees in criminal law ...the only thing a lawyer can assure you is that they will work extremely hard for your husband.

I hope this was helpful.

Good luck,

Gabriel Dorman

Criminal defense topics

Recommended articles about Criminal defense

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer