If you’ve been arrested or charged with a
crime in Los Angeles, DON'T PLEAD GUILTY without considering all your options. The law
provides that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. That’s
what we believe, and that is why we fight for our clients.
Pleading guilty results in a permanent criminal record. A guilty plea comes
with risks of jail time, large fines, probation, and sometimes deportation.
A criminal conviction can also affect your job, reputation and future
. You may challenge the criminal charges against you. Before you make
a decision you may regret, call and meet with us for an evaluation of
your case. There are two things you should absolutely know when charged
or arrested for a crime in Los Angeles:
DO NOT SAY ANYTHING TO THE POLICE!
You can give them simple basic information such as your name, date of birth
and your home address and that's it. Talking to the police and giving
your side of the story will not benefit you.
TALK TO A CRIMINAL LAWYER IMMEDIATELY!
Most jails and police stations allow you some privacy to make a phone call
and criminal attorneys are available to meet with you in emergency situations.
You can rely on a friend or family member to help you reach an attorney.
The attorney can advise you on whether to post bail or wait for your first
court date so that the attorney can get you released without posting bail
- - commonly referred to as an “Own-Recognizance” release.
The right attorney can give you a roadmap of your case, explain the court
process, and your legal options.
We help people arrested and charged with crimes. We fight for our clients
to protect them in a criminal justice system that wants a conviction.
Regardless of your guilt or innocence, we fight to get you the best possible result.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Help You
Consult & Inform- A good attorney should meet with the client and meticulously review the
police report and all the evidence related to the case. The prosecutor
usually has access to a lot more evidence (such as forensic exams, expert
opinions, additional witnesses) that is not turned over to the defense
until much later - usually 30 days before trial.
The attorney should know the client's side of the story. All witnesses
favorable to the defense should be interviewed by the defense investigator.
These witnesses should be contacted and prepared early in the case if
there is a trial. The attorney should explain the crime and the law in
plain English and discuss legal defenses and strategy with the client.
The client and the lawyer can discuss early in the case whether to go
to trial. The client should understand his/her consequences of a possible
guilty verdict or plea deal.
Challenge – The attorney should challenge the prosecution's witnesses
and evidence early in the case (usually in the pretrial stages). There
may be motions that must be filed in court to prevent the government from
using evidence seized illegally, challenge a search with or without a
warrant, reduce the charges from felonies to misdemeanors, or to have
the case dismissed. The criminal defense attorney should point out the
weaknesses in the prosecution's case, while the prosecutor will downplay
the case's weaknesses and concentrate on its strengths. The main goal
of the defense attorney is to poke holes in the prosecution's case
and create reasonable doubt regarding the charges and the evidence.
Negotiate – An experienced criminal attorney should be familiar with the client's
side of the story and his/her personal background (job, professional licenses
etc.,) and the specific facts before the attorney negotiates with the
prosecutor. Skilled attorneys know the value of their case. A skilled
defense attorney has a good idea what the prosecutor and judge will agree
to in terms of prison, jail, probation, fines, etc., given the type of
case it is and the unique facts and circumstances surrounding the case.
The critical part of the negotiation for the defense attorney is knowing
you played your cards right and convincing the prosecutor you will walk
away from the negotiations if the prosecutor cannot meet your demands.
It is like playing a game of chicken. Criminal defense attorneys in California
usually negotiate with the judge if negotiations fail with the prosecutor.
Sometimes judges will offer a better disposition than the prosecutors
if the defendant “pleads to the sheet.” This means the defendant
pleads guilty or no contest to the entire criminal complaint (all the charges).
The judge then has the discretion to impose a different sentence than the
prosecutor. In some cases it is a lesser sentence than the sentence offered
by the prosecutor. Your attorney should be familiar with the judges inclined
to more lenient sentences.
Plea or Trial - After several months of negotiations and court proceedings the moment
of truth has arrived—whether to go to trial or settle . This is
the time where the attorney provides the client with a reality check.
There are risks in going to trial and those should be explained by the
attorney. The attorney will review the entire case and discuss the defense(s)
with the client and prepare the witnesses to testify. The client must
raise these issues with the attorney:
- Is the defendant able to testify and will he/she make a good witness?
- What are the custody, immigration, and risks in going to trial?
- What is at stake for the client? Is the plea deal a fair one?
- Is it a plea deal one the defendant can live with and not lose everything?
- Is it a plea deal that comes with no jail or state prison time?
- What is the probability of a Guilty verdict, a Not Guilty verdict, a Hung-Jury?
- What are the collateral consequences with a plea or a guilty verdict?
All these questions should be answered honestly by the attorneys. A skilled
defense attorney who navigated the entire case with the client can assess
the risks and offer honest advice that will help the defendant make the
Sentencing – Whether a plea deal or a guilty verdict, a skilled criminal defense
attorney should assist the client by preparing a detailed sentencing memorandum
for the prosecutor and judge's consideration. The memo will highlight
reasons and justifications for avoiding jail or state prison and substituting
alternatives such as house arrest, community labor or service, counseling,
or treatment. In cases involving theft or fraud the attorney can help
reduce the loss to the victim by challenging the estimated loss in a restitution hearing.
The defendant should challenge the victim's loss especially when the
victim exaggerates the loss to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
This is very important because if the claimed loss to the victim goes
unchallenged, the loss amount is imposed on the defendant as “restitution”
and the defendant will be ordered to pay that exorbitant amount as part
of his/her probation. If the defendant cannot pay that amount, the court
could impose a longer probationary period, or order a judgment entered
against the defendant.
Hiring the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer
Hiring a criminal defense attorney can be a daunting experience. Interview
and screen the lawyer in person (not by phone) with the goal of hiring
the right one for your case. Interview several lawyers and consider the
Does the attorney practice criminal defense exclusively? Hiring a criminal lawyer who practices exclusively in
criminal defense is always preferable. A criminal defense attorney who frequents the criminal
courts regularly is more familiar with the judges and prosecutors in those
courts. Being familiar with these courts makes it easier to settle cases,
reduce charges or have cases dismissed.
Has the attorney handled similar cases to yours? An attorney who has handled similar cases previously will obtain better
results usually because the attorney has fought that battle before and
knows what to expect and how to prepare a stronger defense.
Does the attorney possess any expertise in a specific area? If you have a serious case involving DNA, computer / Internet fraud, capital
murder, street gangs, bankruptcy or tax fraud, computer or cell phone
forensics, it may your best interest to hire an attorney with this type
of knowledge and expertise to more effectively defend your case.
Does the attorney have jury trial experience? Criminal defense attorneys with jury trial experience who are willing
and prepared to go to trial obtain better results for their clients. Prosecutors
who know the defense attorney has no trial experience or is not willing
to go to trial, are less likely to drop or reduce charges or negotiate
a plea bargain favorable to the client
How long has the attorney practiced criminal defense? Being a criminal defense lawyer is very challenging. It is difficult.
Experience as a criminal lawyer defending people is important. Some attorneys
brag about their previous experience as a prosecutor and will give you
a high percentage rate of success. That is misleading. It is much easier
in our criminal justice system to obtain a conviction as a prosecutor
than it is to have a case dismissed or obtain a not guilty verdict as
a criminal defense attorney. Good and successful criminal defense attorneys
must be creative and know how to create and recognize holes in the prosecution's
case to convince the judge or jury of reasonable doubt.
Meet the attorney. Personally meet and interview the attorney or attorneys that will be
handling your criminal case. Do not hire an attorney over the phone. That
is a huge mistake made by many people. When you meet the attorney, you
decide if you feel comfortable having him/her represent you in court.
Does the attorney understand your case? Find out how the attorney will
approach your case. Ask yourself, after having these questions answered:
do you believe the attorney has the confidence to effectively represent
you on this case? Use your common sense and follow your gut feeling.
Check out the attorney's background. It is important to check with the California State Bar (calbar.org) to
determine if the attorney is in good standing with the State Bar or has
previously been disciplined or had problems while practicing law. A lawyer
who has been disciplined or suspended for theft-related matters or drug
problems could negatively affect your case.
Read the Fee Agreement. Read the fee agreement you sign with the attorney. Know what you are
signing, what services you are receiving and what it will cost you. In
Los Angeles, most criminal defense fee agreements are flat fees and not
hourly fees. Usually the flat fee is payable upfront, but some attorneys
will set up a payment plan. Some criminal attorneys will charge one flat
fee that covers the entire case including trial. Your case may not require
a trial and may settle before trial so you may overpay an attorney for
services you don't need. For example, in some criminal cases there
is so much evidence against a defendant that a trial is not a likely scenario.
In these types of cases, a favorable settlement (without a trial) is a
more likely outcome. Talk to your attorney and know exactly what you are
getting for your money.
What should I pay for a criminal defense attorney? In Los Angeles, attorney rates are competitive and one would benefit from
shopping around. The price you pay for an attorney should be based on
the seriousness of your charges (misdemeanor or felony) and the attorney's
knowledge, skill, and experience. There is an old saying: “You get
what you pay for.” If you are facing serious felony criminal charges
with lengthy jail or state prison time and the attorney is charging you
$2000 for the entire case, then you should thank the attorney for his
or her time and leave office immediately. Why? Any attorney charging that
rate is likely to plead you out on the second or third court appearance
rather than work on your case to prepare a good defense. The rate you
pay the attorney should consider the amount of hours and work put into
your case as well as the number of court appearances required for your case.
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys
We are available to meet with you and confidentially evaluate and discuss
your case. We will go over the facts and circumstances in your case and
explain to you in plain English what you are facing, your legal options
and how we can assist you with your goals. Call us for a
free consultation at 213-223-2173.