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Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers Blog
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In previous blogs the hypothetical case of Donna was illustrated. In Part 2, Donna hired an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney who appeared on her behalf at the Arraignment and pled not guilty after discussing the plea bargain with the Prosecutor.

The attorney would have had three options in Court while appearing on behalf of Donna for the petty theft charge. He could have accepted the plea bargain offer from the Prosecutor which was to plead guilty to a misdemeanor petty theft, restitution, fines and penalties, and probation for three years.

If he pled guilty, the attorney would have discussed with Donna at length her constitutional rights in a criminal case. After having discussed each right in detail, Donna would have signed and initialed a form stating each of these rights. The Judge would have then, on the record, asked Donna if she understood the charges against her, the rights she was waiving, and whether she agreed. After having done so, the case would have been completed.

The attorney would also have the option of pleading no contest. If the plea was no contest, the same procedure would be applied as if the plea was guilty. The attorney can also enter a plea of not guilty. If a plea of not guilty is entered, then the case is set for Pre-Trial and a new date is given.

Donna’s attorney sets the case for Pre-Trial as he does not believe the offer to be a reasonable one. As previously discussed, a misdemeanor can potentially be detrimental to your future educational and career goals.

Donna’s attorney appears on Donna’s behalf at the Pre-Trial. He talks to the Prosecutor, who is different from the Prosecutor in the Arraignment courtroom. The Prosecutor gives the same offer as was in the arraignment courtroom. Donna’s attorney is prepared with case law, his arguments and has done his research on the facts of the case and has spoken to Donna’s friends and family members.

He uses all of his findings and negotiates with the Prosecutor. He explains the weaknesses in the case, and states that the Prosecutor does not meet their burden of proof and if it were taken to trial, they would be wasting judicial resources. The attorney further state that his client will enter a plea of guilty, if the charge is changed to that of an infraction, and the sentence is a minimal fine and restitution.

The Prosecutor reviews his file and Donna’s criminal record, and agrees. The attorney has reduced Donna’s charge to that of an infraction. This means that the charge will not appear on Donna’s record, and she will not be asked to report it. An infraction is similar to a traffic violation and does not carry with it significant weight.

If you are facing criminal charges, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice and counsel of a legal professional.

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It was previously discussed that Donna is facing petty theft charges in criminal court. In Part 1, she had asked for a continuance from the Judge based on the fact that she wanted an attorney to represent her.

The right to an attorney is a Constitutional right and one that the Court takes very seriously. The Judge would not have denied Donna her request for a continuance should she want to hire an attorney. This hearing is called the Arraignment. At this appearance, Donna got a plea bargain offer from the Prosecutor. She did not enter a plea because she asked to have an attorney and was given a new date within thirty days.

Donna speaks to several different attorneys. One of the attorneys she speaks to is charged her a very minimal amount and another is charging a substantial amount. In addition, Donna considers seeking the help of a public defender because the public defender would be the most cost efficient and they are in court everyday and know the Judge. However, what Donna does not know is that while the Public Defender is a knowledgeable and experienced attorney, he will not have time to speak to Donna one on one about the issues and concerns about her case. She will get approximately five to ten minutes to speak to him in Court on the day of her continued hearing.

The attorney charging a minimal amount is a new attorney who has been practicing less than five years. The attorney has just gone off on his own and while he knows his law and his cases, he is not familiar with the Los Angeles County courts. The attorney who is charging a substantial amount is charging that amount because he knows he can get Donna the results she is looking for. This attorney has been practicing in Los Angeles county for over 30 years and have a vested interest in each of his clients. He speaks to Donna about her case, strengths and weaknesses for over an hour prior to Donna ever having hired him. Getting a good vibe, Donna hires the experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer.

At the next arraignment date, the attorneys appears on Donna’s behalf. Donna does not need to appear. The attorney speaks to the Prosecutor, who already knows the attorney from years of handling cases in the same department and courthouse. The Prosecutor lays it out and tells the attorney the same offer that Donna has previously received.
Due to the experience of being in the Courtroom, the attorney knows its not a good offer for Donna’s specific case, and so he tells the Prosecutor, no and tells the Judge that he will be pleading not guilty and sets the case for Pre-Trial.

If it weren’t for the attorney’s experience and knowledge of the courthouse and that specific Prosecutor, he would not have known to not accept the offer. This is why consulting an experienced attorney is so crucial to your case.

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If you are not a lawyer, the criminal judicial system is somewhat complex and confusing. You must have a lot of questions, such as, when do I have to appear in Court? When do I enter a plea? Can I enter a plea at anytime or do I lose my chance?

Breaking down the process helps understand how it works. Additionally, seeking the guidance and advice of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney will give you the best possible chances of dismissing or reducing your case because a legal professional not only went to school for this, but they know the ins and outs of the system. Furthermore, if you hire an experienced attorney, they will be familiar with the Courts, the Judges, the Prosecutors and even the court clerks.

Let’s consider an example, and walk through the process.

Donna is shopping with her friends and she is dared to steal a lipstick. Donna decides that she is going to take her friends up on the dare and throws the lipstick in her purse. As she goes to leave the store, she is stopped by security in the store and taken to their office. She is asked to wait while police officers are called. Once officers arrive, they arrest Donna and charge her with petty theft under California Penal Code §484. On the citation Donna is given by officers, she is given a court date and a court location.

On the date stated on the citation Donna appears in Court by herself without an attorney. She will wait with everyone else in the courtroom. The Prosecutor calls Donna up and tells her that if she pleads guilty to the misdemeanor petty theft, he will only sentence her to restitution, three years summary probation and fines and penalties.
Donna hears this and is immediately relieved that there is no jail time. She wants to finish up this entire ordeal and she does not want to come back to Court. However, what Donna does not know is that this is a misdemeanor, it will remain on her record for a while and will show up in any educational institution or employer related background searches. She will have to state it on school applications and job applications.

Furthermore, if Donna had consulted with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer, he would have told her that she would not be facing jail time in any case. Instead of jumping the gun and immediately pleading guilty, Donna tells the prosecutor that she wants to think about it. The prosecutor says that is fine.

Eventually the Judge calls Donna up to him and asks Donna if she would like to plead guilty. Donna tells the Judge that she is very confused, and would like to talk to an attorney. The Judge immediately continues the case and Donna is given a new date to come before the same Judge in the same courtroom.

Donna made a good decision in wanting to speak to an attorney , and fighting the urge to conclude her case right then and there. The advice of a legal professional is important and can really clarify certain things you may not understand.

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Many of our clients believe that a probation violation is a minor charge and does not require the need for a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer. This is absolutely untrue. In fact, a probation violation requires the need of a legal expert as much as, if not more, than other criminal charges because it can potentially affect future criminal proceedings.

When you have been found guilty, or have pled guilty for a criminal charge, you will be given a sentence. More often than not, part of that sentence is probation. There are two types of probation; summary probation and formal probation.

Formal probation requires that you check in with an officer and report your activities. Summary probation is informal and does not require that you check in with anybody, but that you do not get convicted or arrested for any additional crimes and that you adhere to laws and procedures. Probation orders can also have specific requirements on each individual person depending on their criminal history and the charge they have been convicted of.

A probation violation will incur when a person has violated the terms of their probation. A probation violation is an additional charge and will give the Judge authority to revisit the previous sentence. A probation violation charge does not have the right to trial by jury, it must be decided by a Judge.

Lets consider an example. David has been charged with petty theft and eventually found guilty. David was arrested stealing DVDs from Walmart. Upon being convicted, the Judge placed David on three years summary probation. The Judge specified that David was not to enter the same Walmart again, and David was not to get arrested for any crime or any nature whatsoever.

David does not listen to the probation terms and instead goes to the Walmart thinking he will quickly be in and out. While in Walmart he gets into an altercation with another customer and the two engage in some pushing. Security is called and the two are separated. David is arrested and charged with assault and a probation violation.
When David appears before the Judge, the Judge is not keen on giving David a favorable sentence. The Judge adds mandatory jail time to David’s conviction of assault, and extends his probation to formal probation for five years.

A probation violation is a specified charge and requires the knowledge and experience of an attorney who has handled them for years. It takes knowledge of how a Judge is going to rule so that the attorney can be prepared with an argument and supporting evidence to assure that the probation violation is dismissed or given the lowest possible sentence.

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We have discussed extensively the varying Constitutional rights afforded to each person standing a criminal trial. These rights are very important and designed to protect each individual from being wrongfully convicted, or having their rights taken away without a complete understanding of the process.

That is why in a criminal case it is extremely important to consult with and recommended to hire a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney. For a criminal defense attorney, this is their day to day experience and knowledge. They know whether waiving any rights is in your best interest, or if it will serve to hurt you later.

One of these important rights is the right to enter a plea. If you are represented by an attorney, the attorney may enter a plea on your behalf. Each plea will have its own specific procedures. In any case, no lawyer shall ever enter a plea on your behalf without having discussed in length the specific consequences, potential outcomes and charges with you in detail.

There are three types of pleas that may be entered on your behalf.

1. Not guilty

At the very first hearing, the arraignment, you will be given the opportunity to enter a plea. At the arraignment, you will also be given a plea bargain by the prosecutor. This is an offer that is generally reduced in exchange for a guilty plea that day. However, you do not know if that is a good offer because it is likely that you are not familiar with the law and how strong of a case you may have.
To enter a plea of not guilty, you do not have to be present if your attorney appears on your behalf. If a plea of not guilty is entered, the case will be set for pre trial. At any point during criminal proceedings, you have the option of entering a guilty plea.

2. Guilty

At the arraignment, you will also have the option of entering a guilty plea. If you enter a guilty plea, then the case will be concluded and you will be sentenced. In order to enter a guilty plea, you will have to either be present in court to be read your rights, or you will have to sign and notarize a Tahl Waiver. A Tahl Waiver outlines all the rights you are waiving when you enter a plea of guilty. These are very important rights and include the right to a trial, a right to be tried by jury, a right to present testimony, and many other rights you would be given if the matter were to proceed to trial.

3. No Contest

This plea can be entered by an attorney on your behalf but will also require you to be read a waiver of your rights.
Before entering a plea, it is highly beneficial to consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer because you can only enter a plea after knowing the facts, the law, and the strength of your case.

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If you have been charged with a criminal charge, you will be given a date upon which you must appear before a Criminal Judge. If you do not appear on the date you are given, or prior to that, then you will be additionally charged with a failure to appear.
Merely appearing before a criminal Judge does not mean you are guilty of the crime you have been charged with. This first appearance, the arraignment, is for several reasons.

First, you will be read you rights. You have certain constitutional rights that are granted to you during the criminal process. One of these important rights is the right to counsel. If you want an attorney to represent you in the proceedings, you need to inform the Judge so that they can give you time to retain a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Secondly, the Judge will explain the charges against you and the potential sentences that you may be given. The sentence may include probation, fines and penalties, jail time, community service or even education classes.

Thirdly, the Judge will ask you to enter a plea of either guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Remember, you do not have to enter a plea at any time without speaking to an attorney. Once a guilty plea is entered, it can only be appealed, which is a lengthy process. If you are not sure and wish to speak to an attorney, then inform the court and they will give you a short continuance to do so.

Fourth, at the arraignment, you will get the chance to speak to a Prosecutor regarding a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an offer that the Prosecutor will make in exchange for a guilty plea in Court that day.

Let’s consider an example. David is charged with Drunk and Disorderly conduct. He is given a court date and he appears before a Judge. Prior to going before the Judge , the Prosecutor talks to David and tells him that they will not give him any jail time if he pleads to a misdemeanor offense. When David goes before the Judge, the Judge explains to David that he has been charged with a criminal offense, and what the potential sentence may be, should David go to trial. The potential offense will include jail time, probation and penalties and fines. The Judge also explains to David that he has certain rights and one of those rights is to seek counsel. David informs the Judge that he would like to continue the arraignment so that he can speak to an attorney. The Judge immediately grants him the continuance and sets the hearing out another 30 days.

David takes that time to speak to an attorney and quickly learns that based on the facts of his case he would not be facing any jail time anyways, and that there is a good chance that his case will be reduced to an infraction. It is highly beneficial to David that he did not immediately accept the offer, but instead chose to continue the matter so that he could speak to an attorney.

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t take any chances. Be educated, and informed, and speak to a legal professional as soon as possible!

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When a person has been arrested for domestic violence, it used to be the alleged victim’s decision whether charges would be filed. If the victim chose not to file charges, the case would be dropped and that was the end of it. However, the law has since changed. It is no longer the decision of the victim to file charges. Once a person has been arrested, it is thereafter the decision of the Prosecutor whether charges will be filed.

If domestic violence charges have been filed against you, you may be facing some serious consequences. Not only do you have to complete the criminal process and fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed, you may have consequences if you have a pending dissolution case.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is highly recommended you seek the help of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney because if the case is not handled properly, you may find yourself in a bad situation.

If you are charged with domestic violence, and are then found guilty, or plead guilty, you may lose your right to spousal support, and may lose visitation with your children.

Let’s consider the example of Dan. Dan and his wife were on the verge of breaking up and one night as they were arguing, Dan accidentally threw some water in her direction out of anger. Dan’s wife immediately called the cops. The cops came and at her insistence, arrested Dan and charged him with domestic violence.

While Dan was in custody, Dan’s wife went and filed for a dissolution and a restraining order. The family court Judge, seeing that Dan had recently been arrested and was being charged, granted the temporary restraining order against Dan, and included the kids. Now Dan is restricted from seeing his children until the hearing for a permanent restraining order, and is facing criminal charges.

As Dan’s criminal case progresses, so does the dissolution case and Dan must prove and demonstrate to the Judge that there is no grounds for a restraint gorse, or for him to be restricted in seeing his children.

Having the case reduced or dismissed in criminal court may help bolster Dan’s case in family court. Therefore, it is extremely important to give a domestic violence case the best possible argument and chance of getting reduced or dismissed. If you find yourself in this situation, do not take the risk. Consult with a knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney to give yourself the best possible fighting chance!

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Your driving privileges might be taken away from the DMV if they believe that you are not medically sound to operate a vehicle. The most common reason the DMV finds that you are not of medical capacity to operate a vehicle is if you suffer from a disorder or condition that often results in lapse of consciousness. Such disorders include epilepsy which results often in seizures and sleep disorders.

The action taken by the DMV will depend on how your condition is categorized. The DMV is authorized to take several actions.

• No Action
• Medical Probation Type II
• Medical Probation Type III
• Suspension
• Revocation

Under California Vehicle Code §1420 the DMV has authority to place a drive on probation, if they believe the driver may be affected by certain factors. This allows the DMV to have an alternative other than suspension or revocation. The probationary period and conditions will depend on the exact symptoms and disorder you have. The DMV will continue to monitor the condition so that they can ascertain whether, if ever, it may be appropriate for your to have your license back without restriction.

Probation allows driver’s to continue to drive when control of a lapse of consciousness episode has been achieved for at least three months.


Medical Probation Type III

For drivers who have achieved six or more months of control over their lapse of consciousness, the DMV will consider Medical Probation Type III. There is always an ongoing threat of future seizures, so the DMV will continue to be cautious.
For those under Medical Probation Type III, the driver must report, in writing, on a regular basis to the DMV, his or her condition and status of the disorder. They will prepare and sign a Medical Probation Report ( Form DS 346). The form must be signed under penalty of perjury so that all statements must be true and correct. If a driver lies on their form, then they may be charged under the perjury laws of the State of California.

When deciding whether or not to place a driver under Medical Probation Type III, the DMV will consider the driver’s medical history and established reliability. They will also consider the following factors:

• Seizure type
• Seizure manifestations
• Seizure, medical and lifestyle history
• The seizure-free period prior to the last episode

Medical Probation Type III is more of self monitoring and requires that the driver be honest and up front with the DMV. Medical Probation Type III should not be issued to any driver who has exhibited past evidence of the following:

• Noncompliance
• Withholding information from a physician or the department
• Inconsistent statements

It is a good idea to speak to a knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney to be informed of your rights and the procedure in these cases.

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Your driver’s license may be suspended by the DMV if they believe that you are not medically sound to operate a vehicle. If you have a certain condition or disorder, the DMV may suspend or revoke your license, subject to ongoing monitoring by the DMV. The most common disorders that warrant consideration by the DMV are lapse of consciousness disorders. These include, epilepsy which often results in seizures, and sleep disorders.

The action taken by the DMV will depend on how your condition is categorized. The DMV is authorized to take several actions.

• No Action
• Medical Probation Type II
• Medical Probation Type III
• Suspension
• Revocation

An alternative to suspension or revocation is probation. Under California Vehicle Code §1420 gives the DMV authority to place a person’s driving privileges on probation, rather than suspension or revocation. The probationary period and conditions will depend on the exact symptoms and disorder you have. The DMV will continue to monitor the condition so that they can ascertain whether, if ever, it may be appropriate for your to have your license back without restriction.

Probation allows driver’s to continue to drive when control of a lapse of consciousness episode has been achieved for at least three months.

Medical Probation Type II

Medical Probation Type II is for drivers who have been able to control their lapse of consciousness for three to five months. If a driver qualifies for this category, he or she must authorize his or her treating physician to complete a Driver Medical Evaluation, or Form DS 326 and submit it to the DMV as requested.

Other considerations must also go into determining whether a driver qualifies for Medical Probation Type II. Some of the factors the DMV will consider include the following:

• Seizure type
• Seizure manifestations
• Seizure, medical and lifestyle history
• The seizure-free period prior to the last episode

Having your license put on probation makes it very difficult to be able to get around. Driving is a privilege and before it is taken away, the DMV must have a hearing to determine whether any action they decide to take is appropriate. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney is familiar with the DMV and can handle these cases for you. They can represent you at the hearing to make sure your rights are protected and you are given the proper opportunity to present evidence and to make the necessary arguments.

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Law school focuses on general legal education. Attorney’s do not receive specialized education in one area of law. However, because law school is only three years, all attorneys received general education in all the different areas.

Each area of law is very practice specific, not only in that field, but in the area in which the attorney practices. Each court and each county has its own specific rules as to procedure and practice. Certain cities are more lenient on certain thing in comparison to other counties and some Judges are more open to negotiation than others.

For example, a family law attorney is familiar with the family law forms and civil procedure. They are also familiar with the rules and practice procedures of Judges and clerks in Family Court. Criminal Court is a very different setting. It has its own set of rules and procedures. Also, a family law attorney would be present in family law court often throughout the week, whereas a criminal attorney would be in Criminal court.

Being in court frequently gives a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney the benefit of knowing the Judges and the clerks as well as each specific Judge’s preference. What is the benefit of experience?

Experience can get you the results you need in your Los Angeles Criminal case. If the attorney is familiar with the criminal court that your case is being heard, he or she will know what to bring to the Judge’s attention and they will also know when to push the case for further negotiation, or when to accept and offer.

Let’s consider an example. David has been charged with theft in the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles. His attorney is a regular in the courthouse and knows the Judge that David’s case is before. When prosecutors offer David a plea bargain for a misdemeanor theft charge, his attorney knows that if he pleads not guilty, the case will then be set for pre-trial and a new Judge will hear the case. David’s attorney also knows that the Pre-Trial Judge is a lot more lenient and open to negotiation. Based on David’s attorney’s experience and knowledge, as well as his reputation with the Court, David’s case will have better chances of being dismissed or reduced.

If you find yourself in this situation, take the time to research the attorneys you are considering hiring. Prioritize their experience, years of practice and their knowledge of not only the law, but the policies and procedures of the courthouse in which your case is being heard. It is important to speak to a few attorneys, but remember, the ultimate attorney you chose should be the one that has the most to offer towards your case.