Q: My girlfriend ran a stop and hit a police car. She is facing a misdemeanor with possible jail, but can she get less?
Traffic violation and damage of government property, both parties are fine. She is facing a misdemeanor with possible jail and/or a fine, but what are her odds of getting it down to a petty misdemeanor and less of a fine? She has been a great driver for years but happened to be running late to work on the day of the accident.
A: There isn't nearly enough information here to intelligently advise whether she is likely to get a petty misdemeanor in these circumstances. In any event, she needs to get an attorney on board. The prosecutor isn't going to offer a petty misdemeanor out of the goodness of their heart. Accomplishing that is going to require legal counsel.
A: What are the odds that she will benefit from good legal representation? That will have a big impact on outcome. The court cannot sentence any jail or probation unless the defendant is convicted first. So the defense attorney begins work on ways to prevent or make more difficult any conviction. In the event a defendant is convicted, the judge will consider prior record at sentencing. With no prior convictions, actual jail time seems unlikely for a misdemeanor failure to drive with due care charge. Her lawyer will be in a position to get more specific, after getting pretrial "discovery" of the state's evidence. Key take-away? She needs a lawyer.
If your girlfriend is a first time offender, there is a good possibility that the prosecutor would offer a stay of adjudication which would mean that she would be sentenced to a period of supervision, and it would prevent the offense from going on her record, provided she does not commit another crime during that period of supervision. Just based on my experience, I suspect that she will NOT get jail time because it is a misdemeanor, but there is a possibility that the judge would give her a stayed jail sentence (which just means if she doesn't reoffend within the period of supervision, then she won't have to serve any jail time). As long as she wasn't driving while intoxicated or texting while driving when she hit the police car (which it doesn't sound like she was), I suspect that your girlfriend will NOT have to spend any time in jail just based on it being a misdemeanor. I certainly hope not at least.
Best of luck!
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