Penal Code 977 PC: Waiver of Defendant’s Presence in Criminal Court for Misdemeanors

Waiver of Defendant's Presence in Criminal Court

Waiver of Defendant’s Presence in Criminal Court for Misdemeanors – Table of Contents

Penal Code 977 PC: Waiver of Defendant’s Presence in Criminal Court for Misdemeanors

The California Penal Code Section 977 provides individuals charged with misdemeanors the opportunity to waive their presence in court. Under this code, defendants can choose to have their attorney appear on their behalf, alleviating the need for them to personally attend court proceedings. This waiver can be beneficial in several ways, such as avoiding travel expenses, saving time off work, and reducing anxiety levels. However, it’s important to note that there are exceptions to this rule, particularly in cases involving domestic violence and driving under the influence (DUI) charges.

Penal Code 977 specifically applies to misdemeanor cases in California. It allows defendants to give up their right to appear in court personally and instead have their attorney represent them. This waiver covers all court appearances, including the arraignment, which is the initial stage of a criminal trial where the charges are presented and a plea is entered.

By waiving their presence, defendants can have their attorney handle the proceedings, providing them with information about the charges and representing their interests. This waiver can significantly reduce the stress associated with court appearances, especially for individuals who live out of state or have work commitments that make attending court challenging.

PC 977 – Exceptions to Penal Code 977 Waivers

While Penal Code 977 waivers generally apply to misdemeanor cases, there are exceptions that require defendants to be physically present in court. These exceptions include charges related to domestic violence, DUI offenses, and gross vehicular manslaughter.

Domestic Violence Charges: In cases involving domestic violence, defendants must personally appear at the arraignment and sentencing. This requirement ensures that the judge can issue a protective order if necessary.

DUI Offenses: Defendants facing DUI charges are required to attend court for their arraignment, plea, and sentencing if convicted. These appearances allow the court to address the specific circumstances of the case and impose appropriate penalties.

Gross Vehicular Manslaughter: The court has discretion in determining whether a defendant must be physically present for charges of gross vehicular manslaughter. Depending on the circumstances, the court may require the defendant’s presence at the arraignment, plea, or sentencing.

Benefits of Waiving Presence for Misdemeanor Cases

Waiving presence for misdemeanor cases can offer several advantages for defendants. The primary benefits include:

Avoiding Travel Expenses: By allowing their attorney to appear on their behalf, defendants can avoid the costs associated with travel, especially if they live out of state.

Saving Time Off Work: Court appearances can disrupt work schedules and potentially lead to financial losses. Waiving presence enables defendants to continue working without the need to take time off for court hearings.

Reducing Anxiety Levels: Court proceedings can be intimidating and stressful for many individuals. Allowing their attorney to handle the case can alleviate anxiety and provide peace of mind knowing that a legal professional is representing their interests.

It is important to note that while waiving presence can be advantageous, defendants must ensure that their attorney is well-informed and prepared to represent them effectively.

Consequences of Failing to Appear in Court

Even with a Penal Code 977 waiver, defendants must ensure that their attorney appears in court on their behalf. Failing to appear when required can result in charges for failure to appear, as outlined in Penal Code 1320. This offense applies to both misdemeanor and felony cases.

The penalties for failure to appear depend on the original charge. For misdemeanor cases, the consequences may include up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and summary probation. In felony cases, failure to appear can lead to imprisonment for up to three years, fines of up to $10,000, and formal probation.

To avoid these severe consequences, defendants must ensure that their attorney is present in court when required, even if they have obtained a waiver of presence.

Waiving Presence in Felony Cases

While Penal Code 977 primarily addresses misdemeanor cases, there are options available for waiving presence in felony cases as well. However, the process differs from that of misdemeanor cases.

In felony cases, defendants may have the opportunity to appear via video conferencing technology instead of physically attending court. This allows defendants to participate remotely while still maintaining their presence throughout the proceedings. The use of technology for remote appearances has become increasingly common, especially in light of recent advancements and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Importance of Court Appearance

While waiving presence through Penal Code 977 can be beneficial, it is essential to recognize the importance of court appearances. Defendants must understand that their presence or the presence of their attorney is crucial for the proper administration of justice. Court appearances provide an opportunity to present evidence, challenge arguments, and advocate for the best possible outcome.

Should a defendant choose to waive their presence, they must ensure that their attorney is fully prepared and equipped to represent them effectively. Open communication between the defendant and their attorney is crucial to ensure that the defendant’s interests are adequately protected throughout the legal proceedings

Criminal Defense Attorney - Call 310-274-6529
 (Click to Enlarge)

PC 977 – Hire a Lawyer

Penal Code 977 offers defendants facing misdemeanor charges in California the option to waive their presence in court. This waiver allows their attorney to appear on their behalf, saving them time, travel expenses, and reducing anxiety levels. However, exceptions apply to certain cases, such as domestic violence charges and DUI offenses. It is essential for defendants to understand the potential consequences of failing to appear in court, even with a waiver. While waiving presence can be advantageous, defendants must ensure that their attorney is well-prepared and fully represents their interests.

Do you need a Waiver of Defendant’s Presence in Criminal Court for Misdemeanors? Contact a defense lawyer. Begin constructing your defense with a California criminal defense lawyer.

Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529

Read our Client Reviews

Contact Us:         
Esfandi Law Group QR Code
Esfandi Law Group
Lara S.
June 4, 2018
Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

Get a Free Consultation

    Free Consultation Form