30 Years of Daily Courtroom Experience
Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers Blog
Published on:

When you have been charged with a criminal offense, you will be given the opportunity to appear in court before a criminal Judge and have your case heard. This hearing will be referred to as an Arraignment. At the Arraignment, several things will happen:

  1. Your rights will be read to you
  2. The potential sentence will be read to you
  3. You will have the option to enter a plea
  4. And you will be given a plea bargain

Each of these things are important and if you do not have a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney representing you, it is highly suggested that you think long and hard about each of these steps. For example, entering a plea can affect the rest of your case, your future, and any potential sentence. If you are not an experienced attorney, how do you know whether you have entered the right plea, or if you are being coaxed to? How will you know if your rights are being violated?

In an effort to move cases along the justice system quickly, prosecutors will offer you what is a called a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an offer for a specific sentence if you agree to plead guilty that day. How do you know if the sentence they are offering is actually a good sentence, or if it is merely standard? How do you know that they are not just convincing you to plead something worse, when your case is strong enough to be litigated and you have a strong chance of it being dismissed? Unless you are a criminal law professional, you do not.

Let’s consider an example. Dina goes to court on a drunk and disorderly conduct charge. She was drinking a virgin margarita outside of a restaurant during a very busy fourth of July block party. Officers stopped Dina and told her that drinking in public was not allowed and that she was being loud due to her intoxication. In reality, Dina does not drink alcohol. The party itself was very loud and there were concerts going on everywhere. Dina was dancing along, but not due to her intoxication. Officers did not even question her drink, simply threw it out and stated she was being charged .

Dina appears in court on her own and is given a offer by prosecutors. She is offered no jail time and a minimal fine if she pleads guilty to a misdemeanor offense under the Penal Code. Dina is scared and wants the case to be over. She agrees to plead guilty and does so.

If Dina had spoke to a Criminal Specialist, she would have learned that the officers had no case against her. They had thrown out the only piece of evidence they had, and evidence that would have proven her innocence. Regardless, without any evidence, prosecutors are unable to make a case. Furthermore, drunk and disorderly conducts rarely allow for jail time. It is likely that Dina would not have gotten jail time if she had fought the case. This is why it is extremely important to speak to an attorney before making any decisions on your own Criminal case.

Published on:

One of the most important rights you are granted by the United States Constitution is your right to counsel. Unlike other areas of law, criminal law will provide an attorney for you if you are unable to hire one on your own. This is because your rights in a criminal case are extremely important, and the consequences of your case can affect your life, your livelihood, and many other aspects of your life. This is why it is important to be fully aware of your rights, and the consequences of your pleas in a criminal court.

At the very first hearing you will attend after being charged, the arraignment, the court will read you your rights. One of these rights being your right to counsel. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you. This would be a public defender.

Public defenders are very experienced and competent representatives, however, they are overwhelmed with cases. At any given point they are handling a large amount of cases before the Judge on the same day as your case. This means they have minimal time to be able to spend preparing for your case and speaking to you beforehand.

Private counsel on the other hand has the option of taking a limited number of cases at any point. Furthermore, when they appear in court, it is likely that they do not have more than two cases on that day. Oftentimes, it is only your case that they are appearing for. This means that they have plenty of time to speak to you in the weeks prior to your hearing, to review the discovery in your case, to speak to you in detail about the facts and the be fully prepared prior to court.

If initially you decide to go with a public defender, you always have the option to hiring private counsel. As stated previously, your right to counsel is an important one, and one the court will take very seriously. If you inform the court that you would like a continuance so that you may hire an attorney, you will be given that opportunity. If you proceed with a public defender but find you want that more focused one on one attention from your attorney, you may start shopping around looking to hire. You are in no way locked to one attorney.

In any case, it is very important to your rights, your future and your case that you speak to an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney regarding your options. There may be numerous defenses or arguments available to you, and you want to make sure you are taking advantage of the stronger facts in your case. If you do not practice law, and are not regularly in front of a Judge handling these types of cases, you will be lost. Make the smart decision and give yourself the best possible chance of getting your case reduced or dismissed.

Published on:

Our clients lead busy lives and with work, school, and social obligations. It is often stressful and proves to be difficult for them to clear up the day they are required to appear before the Criminal Judge. Fortunately, once they have retained an Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney, they are not required by the law to appear in Court. The attorney can appear on their behalf.

It is different for cases that are misdemeanors and for felonies. If the case is a misdemeanor an attorney is able to appear on the person’s behalf without them having to be present. If the case is a felony, the criminal system requires that the person being charged must always appear.

For example, David has been charged with domestic violence. He was stopped on a routine DUI, with nothing out of the ordinary. He did not hit a person or an object, he did not damage any personal property and it was his first DUI. Due to the facts of his case David’s case will be a misdemeanor and a San Diego DUI Attorney will be able to make the appearances on his behalf.

In contrast, Daniel has also been charged with a DUI. However, it is Daniel’s second DUI, and he was stopped on suspicion of a DUI because he hit another vehicle and caused the other driver injury. Because there was an injury due to Daniel’s actions, his case will be charged as a felony DUI. It will be mandatory that Daniel appear at each of his criminal court appearances.

If you have hired a legal professional but would like the chance to appear in Court, then you always have the option to do so. Many times the hearing involves some wait time. It is likely that the criminal defense specialist has to speak to the Prosecutor, review evidence and make his argument. If there is no negotiation, the attorney may want to appear before the Judge, or he may want to continue the hearing to gather more evidence. It is one of the benefits of hiring an attorney, that you do not have to appear in Court and miss a day of work, especially to wait while the attorney does his work. The attorney will always be able to update you on what has happened when he returns to the office from court.

If you do not have an attorney, you must appear in court on any scheduled date. Failing to do so can result in a bench warrant, which is a separate criminal charge. You will have to appear in front of the Judge separately on the charge to have it dismissed or reduces.

In addition, when you appear in Court without an attorney, you will be required to wait in line for the court to call each person. The process can be quite lengthy and eat up your entire day.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it is in your best interest to seek the advice of an attorney. Not only does hiring an attorney assure that you are guided throughout the entire process, it makes sure that you are making decisions that are in your best interest. Most of all, it saves you the hassle and frustration of appearing in court by yourself.

Published on:

if you have been cited or arrested for a criminal offense, you have likely been given a court date on which you must appear before the criminal Judge. It is imperative that you appear at this hearing, referred to as the arraignment. If you do not appear, a warrant can be issued for your arrest.

At the arraignment, you will be read your rights, the potential sentence that you are facing and be given an opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. What many people do not know is that you also have the option of continuing the hearing, if you would like.

Everyone has the right to a speedy trial. This means that once you have been arraigned, your case must be heard within a set period of time. If it is not, your right can potentially have been violated. If you continue your arraignment, the Judge will ask if you are waiving time, and you will have to agree in order to receive a continuance. Overall, waiving time does not necessarily hurt your case, but to be absolutely sure, it is always advisable to contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney.

People will usually request a continuance for several reasons:

  1. To obtain discovery:

Discovery includes video surveillance from the arrest and a police report. These items are necessary in order to make a powerful argument and provide necessary evidence to the Court. These items must be requested from the Court. If they are not requested, you will not be able to obtain them. A Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney will know precisely how to obtain the discovery and can get it efficiently and directly from the prosecutor’s office.

If you do not have discovery at the first arraignment date, it is a good idea to continue the hearing. This way you can state your case knowing exactly what evidence is on the table.

  1. To hire counsel

If you appear at the arraignment without an attorney, you will be granted a continuance to obtain an attorney. This is your constitutional right. If you inform the court that you would like time to seek the help of an attorney and to discuss your case, the court will grant it. It is a good idea to consult with a criminal defense attorney. They know the court system and will be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

Published on:

California Penal Code §273.5 makes it unlawful to inflict corporal bodily injury against someone with which the offender has a familial relationship with the alleged victim. Unlike domestic violence battery, an injury has to occur for a person to be charged under California Penal Code §273.5. If there has been no injury, simple the use of force of violence, the charge would be under California Penal Code § 243 (e)(1).
Under California Penal code §273.5, any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim with whom they have a relationship as defined in this code section shall be guilty of a felony.

The key under this code section is that the person must willfully, have inflicted an actual injury on the alleged victim for it to qualify as domestic violence. In addition, the person being charged with the offense and the victim must have one of the following relationships:
• The offender’s spouse or former spouse.
• The offender’s cohabitant or former cohabitant.
• The offender’s fiance or fiancee, or someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship,
• The mother or father of the offender’s child.
• Holding oneself out to be the husband or wife of the person with whom one is cohabiting is not necessary to constitute cohabitation as the term is used in this section.

If one of these relationships do not exist, then the charge would not be brought under this particular code section. There would still be a charge, but likely as assault under a different code section of the California Penal Code.
The code section also defines a range of potential consequences, or sentencing guidelines. A person who has been found guilty and has been convicted of domestic violence shall face a fine of up to $6,000, up to four years in jail or prison, or both. The reason the legislature has provided a range is because the facts of each case are different. A Judge will use his discretion, based upon the facts of the case and the person’s criminal background, before ordering a specific sentence .
Let’s consider an example. Harold and his wife Wilma get into an argument. In anger, Harold throws a beer bottle at Wilma and it strikes her in the face, causing her to bleed. Wilma has suffered serious injuries and is immediately taken to the emergency room. Wilma calls the police, and they arrive, arresting Harold. This is the second time that Harold has been arrested by officers for domestic violence. After a trial is held, Harold is found guilty. The Judge will likely order a sentence on the higher end of the scale because Harold has a previous history of domestic violence and his actions caused serious injury to Wilma.
If you find yourself facing a charge under this code section of the penal code, take it very seriously. It is a felony, and if there was any actual injury, it is likely it will be charged as such. It is important to consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney as soon as possible!

Published on:

California Penal Code §243 (e)(1) makes it unlawful to commit a battery against someone that you have some familial relationship with. It differs from the general definition of battery as it specifically defines the relationships the person being charged, and the alleged victim have. If they do not share a relationship specified under this code section, is it not a domestic violence batter.

To understand the components of a domestic violence battery, it is important to read the code section under which it is defined. California Penal Code §242 defines battery as a “willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another”.

California Penal Code §243 simply defines the relationships that will cause it to be considered domestic violence. To be charged as domestic violence, the person being charged and the alleged victim must be one of the following:

  • A spouse
  • A person with whom the defendant is cohabiting,
  • A person who is the parent of the defendant’s child,
  • Former spouse, fiance, or fiancee,
  • A person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship

 

The California Penal Code §243 (e)(1) in addition to defining the relationships, also specifies the range of potential consequences a person who has been convicted under this code section may face. The potential consequences are a fine not to exceed $2,000 and imprisonment not to exceed one year in county jail, or both. In addition, it is necessary that the person who has been charged attend a batterer’s intervention program which is generally a 52 week program.

 

It may seem strange that the potential sentence is defined by the statue as a range, and is not specifically stated. That is because each case is different. The background facts for each case and each persons criminal history will vary, and one set sentence may not be suitable for each case. It is up to the Judge’s and the Prosecutor’s discretion as to what the sentence will be.

 

It is very important to note that for a person to be charged and convicted of battery, it is not necessary that the alleged victim suffer from any actual injury.

 

Let’s consider an example. Harry, and his wife, Wendy, have an argument one night. Out of anger Harry yells at Wendy and throws a beer bottle at the wall directly behind her. The beer bottle nearly misses Wendy head, and shatters behind her. Wendy calls the cops as she is scared and Harry is arrested and charged with domestic violence battery. Harry has no previous criminal record, and this is the first time he has been charged with any criminal offense.

 

Harry can still be tried for domestic violence battery, even if Wendy was never touched or harmed. Harry acted with violence and force. If Harry is convicted, his charge will be on the lower end of the scale because he has no criminal history, Wendy was not significantly harmed, and the facts were fairly straightforward, without any serious injury.

 

If you face a domestic violence charge, do not delay, immediately contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

 

Published on:

The practice of law includes many  different areas and fields. Many people believe that because a lawyer has gone through law school, that they are well versed in all areas of the law. This could not be further from the truth. Like many other fields of work, law is something that an attorney gets better at with experience.

Experience goes a long way to help the attorney fine tune his practice, but also develop a reputation within the field he practices. For example, a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney is going to be in criminal courts for a majority of the week. The attorney is going to be familiar with the Judges, the Prosecutors and the police officers that he or she comes into contact with quite frequently. An attorney who practices criminal law will attend criminal law education seminars,  networking events and will be a part of the criminal defense section of the local bar.

A criminal attorney will come across the same code sections in many of their cases, as well as defenses and strategies that work. In short, if you are facing criminal charges, you are in the best position possible if you retain the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. It does not make sense to hire a estate planning attorney to handle your criminal case. The estate planning attorney will not be familiar with the courts, the procedures or the people involved, just like a criminal defense attorney will not be readily familiar with the practice of estate planning.

Similarly, when you are facing criminal charges, you may also face immigration charges. It does not give you the best position if you are consulting with your criminal attorney regarding immigration charges. If you are not a United States citizen, then there may be potential immigration consequences. That is why,  it is very important to also retain an Immigration attorney. The Immigration attorney will then work with your Criminal defense lawyer to ensure that there are no negative consequences for you in either arena.

It is a good idea to cover all of your bases when you are facing criminal charges. It is likely that there may not be any immigration consequences, but it is in your best interest to be sure that you will not be facing any surprises later on.

If you are not a United States citizen and are facing criminal charges, do not rely on your criminal defense attorney to teach you about the important consequences you may face. Your criminal attorney is well versed in the criminal area of practice and is familiar with the Judges and courts that pertain to criminal law. Trust the lawyer to guide you through the criminal charges, and consult with an immigration attorney regarding your immigration consequences.

Published on:

When you are faced with juvenile charges in a criminal court, you are facing unfamiliar procedures and law. It is always effective and necessary to seek the help of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney when attempting to navigate the complicated waters of the Los Angeles juvenile court system.

The Los Angeles County juvenile system faces excessive caseloads and with budget cuts constantly in play, the county has fewer and fewer public defenders to help represent juveniles in their cases. Each defender only has a few minutes to spend with each of their clients the morning of their case. There is no time for substantial negotiation or preparation for each case. Due to the fact that juvenile cases continue to grow, yet the county continuously cuts back on public defenders, the result is a growing caseload for each attorney.

When your son or daughter has been arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony criminal offense, it is imperative that their rights are properly protected under the Constitution, and they are afforded competent legal representation caring enough to become familiar not only with the prosecution’s case as set forth in the police report, but a complete understanding of the minors side. Any defenses and witnesses that can serve as a basis for a favorable result, if not a complete dismissal must be carefully reviewed.

It is highly recommended that if your child is facing criminal charges, that you seek out private legal representation and speak to a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney. A private criminal defense professional will only take on cases as their time permits. They have the experience necessary to skillfully negotiate with prosecutors, and prepare their case with adequate time. With the proper defenses and exhibits, the attorney has time to seek a significant reduction in your case, or in some situations, a dismissal.

You are not sharing your attorney with many other clients who have cases the same morning as you. Working out an excellent solution for you is the most important thing in the attorney’s representation of his client. Quite often, the level of specialization and experience found in Los Angeles juvenile attorneys far exceeds that provided by the juvenile court. If you find yourself in this situation be sure to consult with a legal professional that not only specializes in Juvenile cases, but has over thirty years of experience!

Published on:

California Vehicle Code §4461(b) makes it unlawful for someone to use a handicap placard for something other than it’s purpose. It allows for a person who has not been issued the handicap placard to use it, if the person for whom it has been issued is in close proximity or is being transported. It has been previously mentioned by many Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys that this is a serious charge that should not be taken lightly.

The statute itself outlines the possible consequences as follows:

A violation of this subdivision is subject to the issuance of a notice of parking violation imposing a civil penalty of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), for which enforcement shall be governed by the procedures set forth in Article 3 (commencing with Section 40200) of Chapter 1 of Division 17 or is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or both that fine and imprisonment.

Please note that the violation is described as a range, and not a set amount, or set period of jail time. This is because each case varies and each person who stands before the Judge has a different story to tell. The range allows for the Judge to have some discretion in issuing penalties.

For example, one person may have two previous convictions on their record and have knowingly committed fraud by using the placard even though they were not authorized to do so. Another person may have a completely clean record and have unknowingly used the placard without intending to do so. The person who had no intent and no record, will not face the same level of consequence as the person who intended to commit the crime.

Additionally you will notice that the potential penalties outlined by the statute vary greatly. The statute states on one had that the penalty may be a parking citation or violation with a fine of anywhere between $250 to $1000. And on the other hand, it also specifies that the consequence may be anywhere between a fine of the same, and imprisonment for not more than six months.

This is because this charge is what is referred to as a “wobbler”. A wobbler is a charge that can either be charged as an infraction, or as a misdemeanor. This will depend on the facts of the case, the background of the person being charged, and the discretion of the Judge, Prosecutor and the law enforcement officer.

Due to the subjective nature of the charge, it is very important to seek the help of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who has handled these cases before. Many times the attorney is able to stop prosecutors from charging it as a misdemeanor before it happens, and many times they are able to reduce it to an infraction after it has already been charged as a misdemeanor. The most important thing is to speak to a professional right away!

 

Published on:

California Vehicle Code §4461(b) makes it unlawful for someone to use a handicap placard for something other than it’s purpose. Many people mistakenly believe that it is not that serious of an offense, when in fact, that is not the case. Misuse of a handicap placard is a serious offense, and one that can either be charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction. It is generally up to law enforcement, or prosecutors to determine which it will eventually be charged as.

The statute itself includes specific language regarding what is unlawful, and the statute is extensive. It reads as follows:

A person to whom a disabled person placard has been issued shall not lend the placard to another person, and a disabled person shall not knowingly permit the use for parking purposes of the placard or identification license plate issued pursuant to Section 5007 by one not entitled to it. A person to whom a disabled person placard has been issued may permit another person to use the placard only while in the presence or reasonable proximity of the disabled person for the purpose of transporting the disabled person.

The provision actually contains several different acts that are considered unlawful by the legislature. Each one warrants careful consideration.

First and foremost, it is unlawful for a person to whom a disabled placard has been issued to lend it to another person. Let’s consider an example:

Hannah and Doris are having lunch and Doris explains to Hannah that she needs to get her Christmas shopping done but has a hard time getting parking. Hannah, has been issued a handicap placard because she has currently undergone leg surgery and needs the assistance of a wheelchair. Hannah tells Doris to borrow her placard so that she has an easier time finding parking. Doris agrees. Officers spot Doris walking to her vehicle and ask her for identification in regards to the handicap placard.

It is likely that not only will Hannah be charged under California Vehicle Code §4461 (b), but Doris will also be charged under another criminal charge depending on what the officers write her up with.

Hannah knowingly allowed Doris to use the permit for parking purposes. As stated in the statute, a person who has been issued a handicap placard shall not “ knowingly permit the use for parking purposes by one not entitled to it”.

Lets consider for a minute that the above mentioned scenario played out differently. Lets assume that Hannah, hearing about Doris’s complaint with parking, made Doris an offer. Hannah said that she needed to get her Christmas shopping done as well, and since she cannot drive a vehicle, she would ask Doris for a ride, and as a benefit, Doris would get closer parking because of Hannah. This is not a violation of the statute as specified in the latter half of the subsection:

A person to whom a disabled person placard has been issued may permit another person to use the placard only while in the presence or reasonable proximity of the disabled person for the purpose of transporting the disabled person.

If this were the scenario, neither Doris nor Hannah would have been charged. This is a subjective area of law, and one that includes many defenses. If you have been charged under this code section, it is important to consult with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer.