Many people are required to appear in court if they are charged with a crime in California. However, in some situations, individuals can waive this right under Penal Code 977. PC 977 acts as a waiver of presence for misdemeanor cases.
The Simmrin Law Group can help if you have questions about waiving your right to appear for a misdemeanor case. Find out if you can take advantage of PC 977. Our law firm can help you understand your options.
A PC 977 Waiver in California
PC 977 specifically allows some individuals charged with a misdemeanor to skip court appearances. PC 977 only applies to cases involving misdemeanor offenses, though it does not cover all misdemeanor charges. There are exceptions to a PC 977 waiver.
However, in many cases, it allows a defendant to give up their right to appear in court personally and instead have a lawyer appear in court for them. Note that a PC 977 applies to all appearances in court. Individuals granted a PC 977 waiver can even skip their arraignment hearing. An arraignment hearing is the first part of a criminal trial in California.
During an arraignment hearing, an individual will find out what charges they face. Individuals can also enter a plea at an arraignment hearing. Generally, the court allows individuals to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
With a PC 977 waiver, a lawyer can enter a plea for you. A lawyer can then provide you with information about the charges leveled by the court.
Exceptions for PC 977 Waivers for Misdemeanor Cases
There are many exceptions associated with PC 977 waivers. These waivers do not apply to every misdemeanor offense. Individuals cannot avoid going to court if they are facing:
- Domestic violence charges
- Charges for driving under the influence (DUI)
- Gross vehicular manslaughter
Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence is treated seriously in California. Individuals accused of certain domestic violence crimes have to attend their arraignment and sentencing. They must also be at court if the court decides to issue a protective order against them.
Charges for Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Individuals facing DUI charges are required to go to court. Drivers must go to court for their arraignment hearing and to enter their plea. They also have to be in court for sentencing if they are convicted.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter
The court has discretion in ordering a defendant to appear for this charge. They may require them to appear for arraignment, to enter a plea, or at sentencing. Sometimes a defendant will be required to appear at all of these stages, while other times, the court may only require their presence once.
Benefits of a Waiver of Presence for Misdemeanor Cases
Many individuals in California find going to court to be incredibly stressful. Obtaining a waiver of presence for misdemeanor cases allows you to avoid a trip to court. Instead, a lawyer would attend court in your place. This is especially useful if you live out of state or cannot get time off work for your court case.
Allowing a lawyer to deal with your case can help ease your stress after an arrest. Contact the Simmrin Law Group if you are interested in obtaining a PC 977 waiver.
We can also help if you are interested in appearing in court by video. Some courts in California allow video conferences for court cases, depending on the circumstances.
What Happens If Neither a Defendant Nor Their Lawyer Appears in Court?
While a waiver under Penal Code 977 may allow you to avoid a personal appearance in court, it does not mean that you can skip the proceedings altogether. You must still send a criminal defense lawyer in your place to represent you. You could be charged with failure to appear under Penal Code 1320 even after obtaining a waiver of presence if your attorney does not show up in your place.
The potential penalties for failure to appear depend on the original charge. Failure to appear for a misdemeanor charge is punishable by:
- Up to six months in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Summary probation
If you were originally charged with a felony, then failure to appear is punishable by:
- Up to three years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Formal probation
Is It Possible to Waive Presence in a Felony Case?
Felony cases are handled differently from misdemeanor cases, and the right to waive your presence in these court proceedings does not exist in the same manner as in misdemeanor cases.
Depending on the specifics of the situation, it may be possible to waive your right to physically appear for a felony case. However, you are not free from skipping the proceedings altogether and having your attorney there in your place. Instead, you will appear via video.
The use of technology to allow for remote appearances in legal proceedings has increased significantly since 2020.
Risks Associated With Not Appearing in Court
It is very important to appear in court as ordered in California. Individuals not granted a PC 977 waiver should not skip any court dates. Failure to appear in court is a criminal offense in our state. This means you can face criminal charges for missing a court appearance.
These charges can result in fines and even jail time. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help if you are accused of a failure to appear. We can help you build your defense if you missed a court date. Allow us to deal with all aspects of your legal situation in Los Angeles, starting right now.
Discuss a Waiver of Presence for Misdemeanor Cases Today
The Simmrin Law Group can help you request a waiver of presence for misdemeanor cases. We understand how Penal Code 977 works. Reach out to a member of our team for a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles.
Call us for help or complete our online contact form. Do not wait to get help. Contact us today.