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30 Years of Daily Courtroom Experience
Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers Blog
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Unlike many offenses, a Hit and Run charge may be avoided completely if proper steps are taken soon after an arrest has been made.

When you are arrested for a Los Angeles Hit and Run, you have not yet been found guilty. The arresting officer will submit a report to the District Attorney, or City Attorney’s office. The relevant prosecutor will then review the facts and the evidence and will then make a determination if charges will be filed and a case will be started.

There are certain steps that can be taken after a person has been arrested and before formal charges have been brought that could potentially avoid any charges altogether.

An experienced Los Angeles Hit and Run lawyer is well versed in not only the steps to take to give a case the best possible chances of dismissal, but also knows the right people to contact to start the process.

One of the things a legal professional will do is contact the alleged victim. This would be the person that suffered and injury or property damage as a result of the Hit and Run. The attorney will offer a reimbursement, or restitution to make amends for the injury or damage. If the alleged victim is in agreement to accept restitution or reimbursement, then both parties will enter into a civil compromise. This civil compromise will then be presented to the prosecutor in a hope to alleviate the need to bring a case.

Lets consider an example to illustrate the concept.

Donna was driving home from a friend’s house at night one evening. It was raining hard and it was incredibly windy. Due to the fact that Donna had a hard time seeing anything, she hit a neighbor’s fence when she went to park her car in the driveway. Thinking she would just talk to the neighbor in the next day or two, Donna did not leave any contact information. Eventually the neighbors called the authorities and Donna was arrested for Hit and Run. Donna hired a Los Angeles Hit and Run lawyer, and he immediately contacted the neighbors. The attorney was able to determine the cost of repairing the fence, which Donna readily paid. Once the payment was made and the fence was fixed, the neighbors agreed to enter into a civil compromise stating that all damage was fixed and they were not going to be pursuing any further charges or cases against Donna. The lawyer then used this compromise to show the prosecutor that the case had been resolved, restitution had been made and that bringing charges against Donna would be a waste of time of the court’s resources.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, it is important that you immediately contact a legal professional and take action before formal charges have been brought. A hit and run can have a big impact on your life and your education and career. Take all the steps you can take to ensure the case be dismissed or reduced.

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What causes people to feel the scene of an accident resulting in a Hit and Run charge?

The overall umbrella is fear. People are scared that they may suffer consequences on varying fields if they do not flee the scene. Some of these issues are minor in nature, and some are much bigger. Either way, being charged with a Hit and Run, especially with injury, is a much worse scenario than those feared by drivers who opt to flee the scene.

  1. Do not want a DUI

Many people flee the scene and do not stay to help administer help or leave contact information because they are driving while intoxicated and are afraid they will get charged with a Los Angeles DUI. If they are caught, and usually the driver is, they will not only be charged with a DUI, if it is within the adequate time period, they will also be charged with a Hit and Run.

  1. Probation Violations

Many people are on probation from a previous offense. The previous offense does not necessarily have to be a DUI, or a Hit and Run, it can be probation for any offense. Many of the offenses require probation as part of the sentence, and one of the terms of probation is that they are to avoid any unlawful activity. If they are charged with a Hit and Run, it will be a violation of their probation, and will be an additional charge on top of the Hit and Run. For this reason, many people are scared and try to flee the scene.

  1. No insurance

Oftentimes people will leave the scene because they do not have valid insurance and will be facing significant costs that they do not have the funds for.

  1. No valid Driver’s License

Many people are operating a vehicle with a suspended or restricted license, or without a valid license at all. There are criminal implications to driving without a valid license and would be an additional charge on top of the Hit and Run.

  1. No Money

Many times people are afraid that they will have to make restitution and they do not have the money to pay for damage or injury. They are also afraid they will be sued in civil court if they are unable to pay for the damage or injury.

There are many reasons people opt to leave the scene of an accident. The majority of reasons fall under the great umbrella of fear. However, what people do not realize is that fleeing the scene causes them more trouble than it would if they stayed and administered help and provided their contact information. People flee to avoid criminal charges, but if they are caught, and often they are, they not only face the criminal charges or costs they were afraid of, but additional charge and costs from the Hit and Run. If you find yourself in this situation, it is highly recommended that you seek the help of an experienced and knowledgeable Los Angeles Hit and Run lawyer.

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In Part One of this blog, we discussed that there are two types of Probations; informal and formal. Further we started with a break down of the different types of ways probation can be violated. As stated in Part One, and reiterated here, a probation violation is its own separate charge. It is not a warning or an enhancement to another charge. It carries with it, its own case number, as well as its own sentencing. Having clarified that, let’s continue to explore the different ways probation can be violated.

  1. Failure to complete community service

Very much like the failure to complete classes, community service is a part of sentencing that must be completed in a timely manner. The court may give a date for the person sentenced to appear before the Court and confirm that they have completed their service, or the program they have used will submit a completion form to the Court for their records. If the person is required to appear, and fail to do so, a bench warrant may be issued against them for their arrest.

Ex. Dina has been charged with petty theft. The court offered her the option of paying restitution and a fine, or completing community service. Not having any money, Dina opted to complete 60 hours of community service. The court gave Dina a year to complete her service. After a year, Dina had only completed 45 hours, and did not finish her requirement. The program she was working with never submitted a proof of completion, as her service was not done. The court issued a probation violation against Dina.

  1. Failure to pay Fines

A majority of criminal offenses will include a fine in their sentencing. This fine is often tripled due to costs of penalties and assessments. However, the Court will give a date as to when the fine must be paid. If it is not paid this will constitute as a probation violation.

Ex. David was charged and convicted of a hit and run. As a part of his sentence he was ordered to pay a fine of $1,200.00. David failed to pay the fine by the time ordered by the court and failed to ask for an extension or alternatives. David was charged with a probation violation.

  1. Driving with any alcohol in the system after a Los Angeles DUI conviction

If you have been charged with a DUI, the probation terms will often include that you cannot drive a vehicle with any alcohol in your system, no matter how minimal. If you are caught doing so, the .08 BAC minimum will not apply to your case, and any alcohol will constitute a DUI.

Ex. Don was charged and convicted of a first offense DUI. He was sentenced to three years informal probation, as a part of it, the Court ordered that he could not drive with any alcohol in his system. A year later, Don had a beer at his friend’s place and drove home. He was stopped and submitted to a blood alcohol test. His BAC was .03. Even though this may not constitute a DUI violation in normal circumstances, in Don’s case it will, because he was under strict probationary rules.

If you are facing probation violation charges, do not take them lightly. Seek the help of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible!

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If you have been arrested and convicted for a Los Angeles Criminal Offense, chances are as a part of your sentencing the Judge ordered probation. There are two types of probation in a criminal case; informal and formal. If you have been ordered to have formal probation, it means that you must report to a probation officer regularly, and there are certain other restrictions against traveling, and substance use or otherwise. If you have informal probation, you do not have to check in with an officer, but there are certain stipulations, such as not committing another crime during your time on probation, that will be a part of your probation orders.

It is important to understand that a probation violation is its own offense. It is not a warning, or a citation, but can be a misdemeanor offense that must be dealt with like any other criminal offense. Oftentimes, it will come along with another offense such as petty theft or a DUI. Let’s consider a few ways that you can violate informal probation.

  1. Committing another crime

As a part of all informal probation orders, the Judge will require that you do not commit any further crimes. This is not limited to the crime you have been convicted of. If you commit any additional crimes, you will not only be charged for the additional crime, but will also have a probation violation charge.

Ex: Donny is convicted of a DUI, and as a part of the sentence the Judge ordered three years summary (informal) probation. One year after his sentencing, Donny is arrested and charged with petty theft. He will be charged with not only petty theft, but probation violation because he was still on informal probation.

  1. Failure to complete education or rehabilitation classes

Oftentimes as a part of some offenses, the person charged will be required to complete education or rehabilitation classes. These include classes such as narcotics anonymous for drug offenses, batterers intervention or anger management for assault or domestic violence cases, and alcoholics anonymous for DUIs. The court will often give a date of completion when the person completing the classes must appear in court and provide the Court with a proof of completion. If they have not done this, or fail to appear, it will be considered a probation violation, and could also result in a bench warrant.

Ex. Danielle is charged with a Los Angeles DUI. As a part of her sentencing, the court orders that she complete three months of alcohol rehabilitation classes and sets a date for Danielle to return to court three months later to present her proof of completion. Danielle is in a car accident and is unable to complete her classes. She does not finish the three months, and does not appear in court to explain why she was unable to complete the classes. She is not only charged with a probation violation, but she has also failed to appear in court, resulting in a bench warrant being issued for her arrest.

There are many ways probation can be violated. It is important to understand that this is its own separate offense and can result in additional sentencing. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to seek the help of a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible!

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If you have been charged with a Los Angeles Hit and Run, you will get a citation which will state the date, time and location of the courthouse at which you will have to appear. This appearance is not optional, or per your convenience. You have to appear in court on that date, or have an attorney appear on your behalf. An attorney can only appear on your behalf if it is not a felony hit and run. It has to be a misdemeanor and not fall under one of the exceptions in which the person being charged must also appear. This first court appearance is referred to as the Arraignment.

At the arraignment there are several things that will takes place:

1. The court shall read you the charges against you.

The charge will likely be under California Vehicle Code §20001, 20002 or 20003. They will explain what the charges mean and what you are being accused of. This does not mean that you have been found guilty, or that you have committed these acts, it merely means that the government has probable cause to believe that you can be found guilty of these charges.

2. The Court will read you your rights Under the United States Constitution, you are afforded certain rights.

These rights are established to protect you and your freedom. In essence, the government must make sure that careful steps are taken to ensure that you have a voice, that you are heard, and you are given a fair chance to defend yourself, before you are found guilty.

3. The Prosecutor will offer you a plea bargain

A plea bargain is an offer, which is usually a lesser charge or sentence, if you agree to plead guilty that day and conclude your case. A plea bargain is not always a good offer, and is one that must be considered in light of the facts of your case, knowledge of the Judge, and the nature of Prosecutor. This is why it is beneficial to hire a Los Angeles Hit and Run attorney who is familiar with the courtroom and the Judge. They should take the time to review the facts, and the available defenses and arguments to determine whether it is a good offer and in your best interest to take it, or if it is better to argue and negotiate the offer.

4. Right to continue the matter

An arraignment may be continued once, up to thirty days. There are many reasons to continue an Arraignment. You may want to get an attorney, and have not yet found one that you want to represent you. You have a right to counsel, and you have a right to find that counsel. If you indicate to the court that you would like to retain an attorney, and have not yet done so, they will give you the thirty day continuance. In any situation, be prepared for what will happen at an Arraignment. Be ready to provide the Judge with the information that is needed and requested, and if you plan to hire a legal professional it is a good idea to have one retained prior to the hearing.

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A person can be charged under California Penal Code §273.5 a person can be charged with domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined as when a person “who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition”. The action must be taken against the offender’s spouse or former spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant, fiancé or fiancée, or someone the person has an engagement with or is or was dating.

There has to be a relationship between the two people otherwise, it is not considered domestic violence. It used to be that a person who alleged domestic violence would file charges, and then if chose to do so, could withdraw their allegations. However, once domestic violence is suspected, or a person has been arrested, you cannot chose to withdraw charges. Only the District Attorney, or City Attorney’s office can dismiss the charges.

Therefore, it is important to consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney is you have been charged with domestic violence. There are available defenses and it is important to discuss all possible arguments available to you. Furthermore, a conviction of domestic violence can have significant consequences to a dissolution or family law case, and can also have an impact on an immigration case. A person who is found guilty of domestic violence can be facing up to four years in prison, or up to one year in county jail. In addition, they can face a fine up to six thousand dollars, or both a fine and imprisonment.

Domestic violence cases are difficult because they have the highest rate of recantation of testimony. Many of the witnesses or evidence comes from the victim, which has a close relationship with the offender. This explains why many people chose to change their testimony, or even refuse to testify in the criminal trial or proceedings. This makes it difficult for the government to make their case, but it can also work in their favor, if they present it in the proper light. This is why it is so important to have a legal professional that is fully prepared and experienced to present all the facts and evidence to the court to ensure that the charge is dismissed, or in the very least reduced. If you are involved in a family law proceeding, things can get contentions and it is in your best interest to fully fight the domestic violence charge to the best of your ability. If you have been charged, and convicted of a domestic violence charge, it could have a direct impact on your right to spousal support as well as your custody and visitation rights. Do not hesitate. Seek an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney that will be sure to fight for you and your rights!

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If you are going through a dissolution, it will be handled by the Family Law Court. This court is very different from the criminal court. The laws are different, procedures are different, and the Judges are different. If you are going through a dissolution, it is highly recommended that you consult with a Family Law attorney along with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Although the two cases are different, and will be heard in two different courtrooms by two different Judges, the orders made in either may affect both cases. There are many different ways a conviction can affect your dissolution case.

Custody and Visitation

If you have minor children, the family law court will hear the issue of custody and visitation. They will determine what the parenting plan will be for the two of you to share time with your children. If you have been convicted of a domestic violence, then there will be a cause for concern by the court and can limit, restrict or prohibit time with your children.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order

If you have been convicted of a domestic violence, it may be grounds for the victim to obtain a domestic violence restraining order against you. This means that the court can technically prohibit any kind of contact with your significant other, your children and possibly even your home and other property. This can cause an endless array of problems for you in not only the technical sense, but in regards to your restrictions in going about your daily activities and earning a living.

Spousal support

If you are convicted of a domestic violence charge, it can be grounds for denying you spousal support, even if you are entitled to it. Family Code §4320 gives the Family Court authority to deny any kind of support, or deny support requests made by a party that has been convicted of domestic violence against the other party.

A domestic violence charge can lead to an endless array of issues, not only in criminal court, but also in family court. If you find yourself in this situation, it is very important to obtain a family law attorney, as well as a criminal defense attorney so that the two may work together to prepare strategy and defenses. Properly addressing the case and being prepared can make a huge difference in the overall outcome of both matters. Do not hesitate, make the smart move and consult with a legal professional as soon as possible!

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Many clients mistakenly believe that because certain charges arise out of one incident, that it is all considered to be one offense. This is not true. You can be charged with many different offenses, possibly resulting in multiple convictions from one incident. To better understand the concept, let’s consider an example.

David is driving home from a party. He has had a few drinks. He feels that he is fully capable of driving his car home, even if he may not be. He is driving home late, and it is a rainy foggy night, making it difficult for him to see. He is driving home on a deserted street, with parked cars. As he is driving he hits one of the parked cars on the left back bumper.

David is on probation from a DUI he got two years prior. Not wanting to get in trouble, he drives away hoping no one witnessed the incident. As he drives along, worried about getting seen, he runs a red light and is stopped by officers immediately. Officers smell alcohol on his breath and ask him to submit to field sobriety tests. What David also doesn’t know is that someone has witnessed him hit the parked car, and has reported the incident. The officers who have stopped him for suspicion of DUI get notified of the possible suspect, and arrest David.

David is facing some serious charges. Prosecutors will charge him with a Hit and Run, a possible DUI, as well as a Probation violation.

The probation violation will stem from the fact that David was on probation at the time he was arrested for Hit and Run and for the second DUI. Under general probationary terms, you are ordered to stay out of trouble and not face any additional penalties or possible convictions. By drinking and driving, while he is on probation for a prior DUI, David also faces a potential jail sentence.

At the time of arrest, David is only charged with potential offenses. He has not yet been convicted. There is a difference. An offense means that the Prosecutors have enough evidence to believe that he is guilty of a crime, but have not yet proven their case. They must prove each element of each offense beyond a reasonable doubt before David can be found guilty. A trial must be held, or a plea must be entered by David on each individual offense, not all as a whole.

If David is found guilty, he will face three separate convictions, with three separate sentences. If you are facing several charges at once, it is important to get the facts straight, the defenses clear and prepare the strongest possible argument. Several offenses at a time is a complex criminal case, and one that only an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney should handle!

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Like most criminal offenses, the potential consequences for a Los Angeles Hit and Run are on a spectrum. The reason the potential sentence can vary is because the court will take into account the person’s criminal background as well as the facts of the case before issuing a sentence. No two cases are completely identical, and giving a sentence that is identical would not be fair. Therefore, a sentence is issued based upon each individual case, and statutory guidelines.

There are two levels of a Hit and Run. There is a hit and run in which property is damaged, and there is a Hit and Run in which a person is injured. When there is property damage, the charge can be a misdemeanor, unless there is significant damage. When a person has been injured, it will likely be charged as felony.

For misdemeanor Hit and Run cases, a conviction can lead to a sentence anywhere between a fine of up to $1,000.00, an up to six months in jail. It is likely that restitution will also be included. To better understand how a Judge will issue a sentence, we will consider two different scenarios.

Danny is driving home from work on a dark and foggy evening. He is having trouble seeing in front of him, and it has just started raining. While Danny is driving home, he realizes that he needs to pull over and adjust his lights so that he is able to see. When Danny pulls over, he does not see the small tree in front of him and ends up hitting it, causing the tree to tip over. The tree is in someone’s front year. Danny immediately tries to knock on the home owner’s door, but no one opens the door. He then leaves his name and number on the front door. Unbeknownst to Danny, the rain knocks the information away. Danny is found a day later and arrested for Hit and Run. Danny has no prior criminal history.

Danny has as potential defense available to him. He did not neglect to leave information, he just did not realize that the information was destroyed by the rain. If Danny is convicted, it is likely that he will be asked to pay for the cost and planting of a new tree, and a minimal fine to the Court. It does not seem that he will be doing any jail time, as there was no injury and he has no prior criminal history.

Don on the other hand is driving home from happy hour with his friends. Don has had a few drinks and is driving home at night. It is a dark night, but it is not windy or rainy. Don accidentally misses his turn and drives up into someone’s fence, causing the entire fence to come crashing down onto the front porch. Afraid that he will get arrested for a DUI, Don takes off. Don has a prior DUI on his record, from three years before.

Don is going to be charged with a possible DUI, along with the Hit and Run. Don also may be facing a probation violation. The Judge is likely to issue a higher sentence on Don because he has priors, many charges, and he made no attempts to rectify the situation. Don may or may not face Judge charges, but it is likely that he will have to pay a high fine, and restitution to the homeowner.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to consult a Los Angeles Hit and Run Lawyer immediately!

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When you have been arrested on suspicion of having committed a criminal offense, you will be issued a citation. The citation will contain the date in which you have to appear in court, the courthouse, the law that you have violated, and whether the charge is an infraction, felony, or misdemeanor. It is important to understand the dynamic of each, and to understand that some charges can be charged as either.

At the time of the arrest, the officer will give you the citation and he, or she, will determine what the level of the citation will be. However, the prosecutor’s office will determine whether you will be charged, and whether that charge will be changed from what is stated on your citation.

For example, if you have been arrested for driving under the influence, the citation may read, VC 23152, Misdemeanor. This means that you are being charged under California Vehicle Code §23152, as a misdemeanor. Each level carries with it its own characteristics, and can be reduced with the right arguments and defenses.

A felony charge is the highest level. Felony charges almost always carry with them jail time and high fine. Oftentimes, those charged with felonies remain in custody. A felony will also require that you appear in court whether you have an attorney or not. You always want to avoid a felony charge on your record.

Misdemeanors are the in between. The can potentially have jail time, or high fines, but it will depend on the actual offense, your criminal background, and the facts of the case. For example, if you are charged with a first offense DUI, and it is a misdemeanor, your fine may be high but you may not serve any jail time. However, if you are charged with a second offense misdemeanor, some jail time may be mandatory based upon the fact that you have a prior.

An infraction is the least of all criminal offenses. It includes no jail time, and is generally just a low fine. An infraction will also not remain on your record and you are not required to disclose it on applications. Traffic tickets are infractions.

A charge can be reduces to a misdemeanor from a felony, or an infraction from a misdemeanor, if the statute allows for it. For example, drunk and disorderly conduct, which is generally a misdemeanor can be reduced to a disturbing the peace charge which can be an infraction. In fact, a person who is charged with disturbing the peace as a misdemeanor can be reduced to a disturbing the peace infraction.

It is crucial to have an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer on your team, especially when the result can be a reduction in charge. Having your charge reduced can make a huge difference to the consequences you may face with a conviction, so don’t take any chances!