civil compromise, California criminal lawCivil compromise in CA criminal cases is a concept whereby an agreement to pay for the damages caused by a potentially criminal incident can reduce or dismiss the charged crimes.  Having the right advice and representation of a Los Angeles criminal attorney can make all the difference in these cases.


In California, many persons believe that if they decide not to press charges against someone in a crime, that the District Attorney or Police won’t pursue the prosecution.  However, nothing can be further from the truth, it is the prosecutor’s decision not to prosecute a criminal case and they will look at different issues including the victim’s desire to prosecute, the nature of the crime, the strength of the evidence, the criminal background of the defendant and other circumstances related to the case.  If a person gets arrested it is often beneficial at times to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can prepare information for a prosecutor which can often times lead to the non-filing of charges, reduction of charges or dismissal of charges at a later time.  In certain cases, a seasoned criminal defense lawyer can explore the possibility of entering into a civil compromise (paying) the victim for their loss which can lead to the dismissal of criminal charges.  As discussed below, there are certain limitations and advantages to civil compromises in criminal cases which one should discuss with their attorney before attempting such a strategy.

Civil Compromise in Misdemeanor Cases in California

Under California Penal Code sections 1377 to 1379, a person charged with a misdemeanor may be able to have a charge dismissed by entering into a civil compromise with the victim.   Often times, a misdemeanor hit and run charge under California Vehicle Code section 20002(a) can be dismissed when the defendant and victim enter into a settlement to pay the victim for the property damage to their car.  If a victim desires to compromise the criminal case civilly, they must either appear before the Judge in the criminal case or have the defense attorney present a declaration from the victim where the victim indicates that they have been compensated for the losses from the crime and it is their desire not have the prosecution proceed.  If the Court is satisfied, they can dismiss the case and make a record of the dismissal which would prevent any further prosecution.   The advantages to a civil compromise are obvious as it would result having no criminal conviction.  In misdemeanor cases, there are still some crimes that cannot be resolve by civil compromise including but not limited to domestic violence case, crimes against peace officer, crimes against children and the elderly and other charges.  It is clearly best to consult with and/or retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine if a civil compromise in a misdemeanor case is available and the best strategy to take in order to have a criminal case dismissed.

Civil Compromise in Cal. Felony Cases

If a person is eligible for a civil compromise in a misdemeanor case in California, they do not need an agreement from the prosecutor in order to have the compromise approved by the Court.   However, it is always advisable to have the compromise agreed to by the Prosecutor.  In felony case, a civil compromise to dismiss the case are more uncommon as they need to be agreed upon by the prosecutor.  In many financial crimes charges in California such as passing a bad check or even embezzlement which are typically felony charges, a  prosecutor may agree to enter into a civil compromise where a victim can be made financially whole.  However, such cases can be complicated and a prosecutor might want a criminal conviction on a defendant’s record so it is up to the talents of a good criminal defense lawyer to present that a civil compromise is the best avenue for the victim and the State to receive justice.  There are many felony cases where civil compromises are not available including obvious serious felony charges such as murder, assault with a deadly weapon on  a peace officer etc …

Importance of seeking legal advice and representation to work out a civil compromise in a criminal case in CA:

Criminal convictions can have long term consequences for education and employment opportunities.  Working out a civil compromise can be a good solution to avoiding the negative consequences associated with a conviction of a crime, be it misdemeanor or felony.  However, as pointed out above, these types of agreements are not simply entered into without negotiation and are not always approved by the prosecutors and judges.  Having a Los Angeles criminal lawyer who is experienced in the art of negotiation and compromise and who knows the ins and outs of the approval process can make all the difference in the world in maximizing your chances.