How much do you charge?
The legal fee varies from case to case and is based on factors such as the complexity and type of criminal case you have, the anticipated time needed to prepare the defense, which may include legal motions, issuance of subpoenas, private investigation, and multiple court appearances, etc., as well your input concerning the result that you would like to achieve. Our fees are reasonable and consistent with the California State Bar ethics rules.
Do the police have to read me my rights?
This is many times a significant question in contested hearings in criminal cases. When you are being questioned by the police, the legal question is whether or not a reasonable person similarly situated feels that he or she is free to leave the presence of the officer posing the questions. For example, if you are in police custody, you certainly would not feel free to leave. In that situation before any questions are put to you on the subject of suspected criminal conduct, the officer should read you your Miranda Rights. The right not to answer questions arises during a police interrogation when law enforcement officers are asking questions in hopes of eliciting incriminating responses from the person being interrogated.
In a DUI arrest, the police usually will not read to you your Miranda rights because they have asked you all of the questions designed to elicit incriminating responses before they arrested you. It seems very unfair because a person being investigated for suspicion of DUI is surely not going to be allowed to walk away from the investigating officer. Nonetheless, the courts have said this scenario does not violate Miranda because such practice constitutes “pre-investigatory questioning.” Truly a distinction without a difference in my opinion.
In any event, the legal remedy for a Miranda violation is to file a motion to exclude any harmful statements that you may have made from any contested hearings that may be litigated in your case.
Do I need a lawyer?
Yes. In a criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor or felony, your liberty and property are in jeopardy. If you have been accused of committing a crime, the importance of having an experienced criminal defense lawyer examine the allegations and evidence against you on your behalf cannot be overstated. It is critically important to have your case properly and accurately evaluated by an attorney with many years experience so that he or she can provide you with all of the information you need to make sound decisions about your case going forward.
This is especially true in “priorable” offenses, such as DUI and many theft-related crimes. A priorable offense may be used to enhance the punishment for subsequent convictions of a similar nature.
What’s going to happen to me? How can I fight my case?All criminal prosecutions begin with a criminal complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office. The first court appearance is called an arraignment and its purpose is for the court to inform you of the charges against you and for you to enter a plea (the plea entered at arraignment should almost always be a plea of not guilty.) There are then a series of pre-trial hearings which provide the parties time to comply with their respective discovery obligations. There also may be further investigation needed. At some point, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case against you will make an “offer” to your attorney to resolve the case. An offer is a recommendation by the deputy district attorney as to what crime you should plead guilty or no contest to and what your punishment will be if you do so. If you agree to the “offer,” you have reached a plea bargain. If you do not want to resolve your case with a plea bargain, then your only choice is to have a jury or court trial which means that either a jury of twelve people will be selected to hear the evidence in your case, or in the case of a court trial, the judge will hear the evidence in your case, and then decide whether you are guilty or innocent.
The cop lied in the police report – where’s the evidence?The testimony of any witness in a criminal proceeding is evidence if taken under oath even if the witness is lying. Unfortunately, as frustrating as this experience is, the claim that a law enforcement officer lied in the police report will most often not persuade the deputy district attorney prosecuting your case to dismiss the case. Prosecutors typically believe everything stated in a police report. However, if there is other solid evidence in the form of witness testimony (including your own) and/or documentation to corroborate your claim that the officer is being untruthful, you’re on much stronger standing in terms of disputing the officer’s statements. This issue will most often be raised in the context of a contested hearing such as jury trial where both you and the law enforcement officer will testify. The trier of fact will have to decide which of you to believe. You can imagine how that usually goes when it’s just your word against the officer’s word without any other corroborating evidence. That being said I have spoken to jurors after a successful jury trial verdict that did not believe the testimony of the officer. The bottom line is that every witness’s credibility is always in issue in any contested hearing.
Will I have to go to jail?
It depends on what offense you are convicted of and what, if any, criminal history you may have. Many people receiving jail sentences are given the opportunity to participate in one of the sheriff’s alternatives to jail programs. When you are accepted into a jail alternative program, rather than actually surrendering yourself to the jail, you would work for the sheriff, cleaning up in and around the jail or completing other similar tasks during the day and then go home at the end of the day just like a job. Some people are permitted to complete the jail sentence on an electronic monitoring program (ankle bracelet), which means they are confined to their home for the period of time equal to their jail sentence.
Although it varies from county to county, it is usually the sheriff’s department that will determine whether or not you qualify for an alternative to jail program. For example, if you are convicted of a violent crime, or one in which you were convicted of fighting with the police or resisting arrest, you will not likely qualify for an alternative to jail program.
In DUI cases, most people get an alternative to jail program. However if you have multiple DUI offenses, this may not be an option.