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Criminal Defense Attorney in Modesto, California

According to the website NeighborhoodScout, residents of Modesto have a 1-in-122 chance of being victims of a violent crime, almost twice as likely as the statewide average of 1 in 227. The chances of being a victim of a property crime stand at 1 in 29 in Modesto, and at 1 in 43 statewide.

To address these rising crime rates, law enforcement agencies are cracking down on even the slightest criminal offenses. If you find yourself in the wrong circumstances, you could be investigated, brought in, and charged — even if you played no part in the crime itself. Or, in many cases, you could be facing incorrect charges. In either case, you’re going to face a justice system that can be intimidating and often unforgiving.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re facing criminal charges, you’re going to need reliable legal counsel on your side to protect your rights. At Roth Legal, criminal defense attorney Ryan Roth can provide local representation in Modesto for a variety of criminal charges. Roth Legal handles both federal and state cases, so no matter what criminal charge you may be facing, you’re in good hands.

Dealing with a criminal case can be extremely overwhelming. You deserve to have an attorney who works hard to see clients through every step of the legal process involved. Attorney Ryan Roth is proud to provide that level of service to all of his clients in Modesto, and the surrounding areas of Stockton, Manteca, Merced, as well as throughout the state of California. Call today to schedule a free case consultation.

Criminal Charges in California

Charges in California, as in most states, are typically categorized as either misdemeanors or felonies. A misdemeanor is generally an offense that carries a jail (not prison) term of 364 days or less, and/or a fine of up to $1,000. A more serious felony charge includes confinement for one year or more, including the possibility of the death penalty, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

In contrast to these, an infraction is a violation of a local ordinance, certain provisions of the Vehicle Code (e.g., speeding), or other local laws or statutes. Infractions are usually petty offenses and generally do not result in any jail time.


Misdemeanors are either “standard” or “aggravated,” which is also called “gross.” A standard misdemeanor carries a county jail term of up to six months and/or a fine of $1,000 or less. Gross or aggravated misdemeanors can carry a sentence of up to 364 days in county jail and/or a fine of $1,000 or more.

Examples of standard misdemeanors include shoplifting, prostitution, public drunkenness, and drug possession. Examples of aggravated misdemeanors include DUIs, incidents of domestic violence that do not result in injury, and driving on a suspended license.

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Felonies can be either “straight” or “wobbler” offenses. A straight felony means the crime must be charged as a felony, while a wobbler is an offense that can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Straight felonies include murder, rape, the sale of a controlled substance, and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. Wobbler felonies include domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon, forgery, vandalism, and sexual battery.

Determinate & Indeterminate Sentences

You may have watched TV shows or movies where someone is charged with a “first-degree” felony. Many states classify felonies using a ranking system from 1 to 6, with 1 being the most serious, such as, “murder in the first degree.”

California does not rely so much on this system. Instead, each crime has its own penalty, with determinate (or fixed) sentences that are specific to the individual crime. If there is no determinate sentence attached to a particular crime, a judge can choose confinement of anywhere from 16 months, to two or three years. California law also calls for indeterminate sentences for certain crimes, for instance, 15 years to life for murder.

County Jail vs. State Prison & Felony Probation

It’s important to note that California emphasizes using county jails over state prisons for felonies, unless the defendant used violence or otherwise deserves special supervision. Prison-eligible crimes include murder, rape, voluntary manslaughter, robbery, carjacking, and any crime committed with a gun.

Felony probation is also a possible sentence, with probation terms of either two or three years depending on the crime. This type of probation does not apply to violent crimes or to crimes whose statutes dictate the length of probation, however.

What to Expect After Being Arrested

After you’re arrested, the police will investigate and attempt to interview you, but remember, “you have a right to remain silent.” After this initial interview, they will typically write a report to forward to the prosecutor. The prosecutor then has 48 hours, not counting weekends and holidays, to decide whether or not to charge you.

If charged, you will appear before an arraignment, where you will be asked to enter a plea, which could be guilty, not guilty, or “no contest” (equivalent to guilty but precludes the subsequent possibility of a civil lawsuit).

Pleading Not Guilty

If you plead not guilty, it will be your choice whether to be tried by a judge or by a jury. Depending on your crime and whether you’re in custody, free on bail, or out on your own recognizance, you are entitled to a speedy trial that must begin either in 30, 45, or 60 days. You can always waive your right to a speedy trial.

You’ve probably all seen enough TV crime dramas to have a good idea of what goes on at a trial, at the conclusion of which the jury (or judge) will reach a verdict. If you are found not guilty, you will be free to go. If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced by the judge.

Appeals Process

You have 30 days to appeal a misdemeanor conviction and 60 days for a felony conviction. However, the standards for a court to accept an appeal are strict. You must present a solid argument that one of two types of errors occurred during the trial — a prejudicial error or an error of no substantial evidence having been presented.

For a prejudicial error, you must show that someone — typically the judge, attorney, or jury — did something to harm you and your case. Perhaps the judge gave out incorrect instructions to the jury. Or maybe the prosecutor or a member of the jury engaged in some level of misconduct. Regardless of the unique circumstances of your cases, the bar to successfully prove a prejudicial error is generally set pretty high.

You Deserve a Strong
Legal Advocate In Your Corner

At the end of the day, the justice system in California can be extremely difficult to navigate on your own. You may think a misdemeanor charge is not worth fighting, or that relying on a public defender is the simplest way to move forward. Don’t give up and don’t rely on a public defender.

No matter how well-intentioned and competent, a public defender has a huge caseload and may not have the time to represent you properly. Often public defenders will just opt for a plea bargain at the first opportunity rather than seeking a dismissal or a favorable outcome through trial. You deserve to have an attorney who will stand up and protect your rights in the face of any criminal charge.

Attorney Ryan Roth has been serving individuals in Modesto and the surrounding areas of Stockton, Manteca, Merced for nearly a decade. His extensive knowledge and experience with the California criminal justice system can help you seek the best outcome possible for your case. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, don’t wait. Contact Roth Legal today for a free case consultation!

Criminal Defense Attorney
in Modesto, California

At Roth Legal, A Professional Law Corporation, protecting your rights is the top priority. You deserve to have an attorney on your side who will stand by you every step of the way and fight to have your charges reduced or dropped altogether. If you’ve been charged with a crime in or around Modesto, you don’t have to face the legal system alone. Call Roth Legal today for experienced legal counsel and representation you can trust.