Civil Compromise in California
In California Winning a Criminal Case with a Civil Compromise subject, you can get your misdemeanor dismissed through a remedy called a Civil Compromise, pursuant to Penal Code Sections 1377, 1378, and 1379.
What is a Civil Compromise?
Essentially what happens in a Civil Compromise is the victim of the crime receives “satisfaction” for their injury, which usually means cash money, and the defendant (person charged with the crime) has their case dismissed. In other words, a civil compromise can be simply thought of as paying money to the person you have injured in exchange for getting your case dismissed. For example, if I commit vandalism (Vandalism, PC 594) by spray painting someone’s car, and the damage is $400 or less, making it a misdemeanor, then I can potentially pay the victim of the damaged car the cost of his damages to get my misdemeanor case dismissed. However, there are other prerequisites to getting my case civilly compromised.
There are three (3) essential steps in getting your case Civilly Compromised:
- The crime must be a qualifying misdemeanor. A qualifying misdemeanor means that the same misconduct results in both civil and criminal liability. For example, if I hit someone’s vehicle with my vehicle that is a hit-and-run under the criminal law (VC 20002(a)), but also makes me liable civilly for money damages in order the repair the damaged vehicle that I hit. This type of case is a qualifying misdemeanor. Other qualifying misdemeanors include:
- Petty theft – PC 484
- Shoplifting – PC 459.5
- Burglary – PC 459
- Vandalism – PC 594
- Assault – PC 240
- Battery – PC 242
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon – PC 245
- Hit and Run – VC 20002(a)
Crimes which do not qualify for a Civil Comprise include:
- Any Felony
- Domestic Violence- PC 273.5
- Domestic Battery – PC 243(e)(1)
- Child Abuse- PC 273a
- Elder abuse- PC 368
- Illegal possession of a firearm- PC 29800, PC 25400, PC 25850
- Public offense that do not involve individual victims (PC 1379)
- The victim must be satisfied by the compromise. The victim must notify the Judge, either in writing or in person, that they want the case to be civilly compromised, that this is the outcome he or she wants. PC Section 1378 reads, “If the person injured appears before the court in which the action is pending at any time before trial, and acknowledges that he has received satisfaction for the injury, the court may order all proceedings to be stayed upon the prosecution, and the defendant to be discharged therefrom.” The rationale of a civil compromise is to protect the victim from long drawn-out court proceedings. Therefore, if you are charged with a misdemeanor, it’s essential that your criminal defense attorney contact the victim right away to try to negotiate a civil compromise.
- The Judge must approve the civil compromise. It is in the discretion of the Judge whether or not to accept the civil compromise. Try to hire an attorney who is familiar with the courthouse, and if possible, has a good relationship with the Judge.
Beware of Extortion and Blackmail
Penal Code Section 518 makes it a crime to extort someone for money. So if a so-called victim of a crime is threatening to report you to authorities or to go forward with a criminal case unless they are paid, they can be subject to extortion. Negotiating a civil compromise requires skill, effort and experience.
However, when the options are few and your case is not looking good, an experienced criminal defense attorney can employ a civil compromise to get your misdemeanor case dismissed!
We’re Here to Help
If you or a loved one is accused of a misdemeanor or felony that can be reduced (a “wobbler“) in the Southern California area, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review.
Our experienced and assiduous attorneys will be sure to fight until the end to achieve the desired results.
Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 18 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.