Some Questions And Answers
QI've only been charged with a misdemeanor. Won't I just go to court once, plead guilty, and get probation and a fine?
First of all, most misdemeanors carry a potential penalty of up to six months, sometimes a year, in county jail, whether or not you get probation. If you do get probation, there is no guarantee that you will stay out of jail; in fact, you may be put in jail, then later released on the condition that you do volunteer work, submit to drug and alcohol tests, submit to a search at any time by a police officer, pick up trash by the side of the highway, or other unpleasant conditions. You need an experienced practitioner and negotiator to get you the best possible disposition.
In some situations, your case may be "diverted" out of the criminal justice system, and if you complete a designated plan of counseling and/or volunteer work, your case may be brought back into court and dismissed. You need a lawyer to zealously advocate on your behalf with the judge and district attorney, to convince them that you have a case the prosecution cannot win, or that you deserve less time in jail, or that your case should be dismissed or diverted.
QI got caught driving drunk. The police flunked me on the "line-walk" and "finger count" tests, and I blew a .12 on the breathalyzer. What's a lawyer going to do for me?
There are a number of potential problems that a good defense lawyer can point out that might get you an acquittal or other favorable disposition in your DUI case. Unless the police complied with certain specific procedures when they gave you your breathalyzer test, they will be unable to testify about how you did on that test in a court of law. Often police will not comply with those procedures, or will be unable to remember in court whether they had done so.
Sometimes police rely on criteria to stop your car that are objectively ridiculous and unlawful, and the "fruits" of their illegal detention of you -- essentially, everything they do or observe after the stop -- will be suppressed as a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Also, "balance and coordination tests" like the finger-count, the Romberg test, and the line-walk test are notoriously unreliable in assessing whether someone is driving under the influence, and can be affected by such conditions as roadway slope, lighting, weather, and your personal medical condition, none of which the police are particularly inclined to take into consideration.
Whether or not you think you were driving "drunk," you need an experienced attorney in order to examine the case, advise you as to the best course of action, and advocate on your behalf.
QI think the police violated my rights before or during my arrest. What can I do about it?
It depends. Often, criminal defendants think that they will go free if the police failed to "give them their Miranda rights." If we can show that the police conducted an interrogation while you were in custody, and that you gave a statement without having waived your rights, the most we will likely get is an order that prohibits the prosecution from using the statements that you gave during your trial. While that may weaken the case against you, it will seldom get you a dismissal, since the prosecution likely has evidence against you other than your statement.
On the other hand, if we can show that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights -- that is, your right against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government -- you may be entitled to a dismissal. For example, if the police stopped your car without legal cause, or entered your home without a warrant, or decided to search your car without probable cause after you were arrested nearby, anything that they seize after their illegal conduct is generally inadmissible in court. It is exceptionally difficult for the prosecution to prove a drug case against you if they can't tell the jury about any drugs they found.
QI've been charged with a felony. But I don't want to go to trial. Can't I hire just about any lawyer to talk to the District Attorney for me?
You may not want to go to trial, but you don't want to go to prison either. And if the judge and DA are only offering you prison time, your only solution may be to go to trial, and put the question of your guilt or innocence in the hands of a jury. You need an attorney who you can count on to do everything your case requires, including going to trial if that's what the case requires. I have practiced criminal defense in the courts of Northern California for almost 25 years, so I know the system and the players. Also, I have tried over 40 criminal cases to juries, with a history of excellent results and a string of happy (and free) clients.
QHave you ever handled a [fill in the blank with the specific kind of crime] case before?
Rest assured that I have handled just about every specific type of criminal case throughout my quarter-century of criminal defense in California. And I can apply the skills and knowledge that I have acquired while devoting my professional life to the defense of criminal cases to every case, including yours.