Hire a Criminal Lawyer………………before you jeopardize your freedom!!!!
Areas of Expertise:
- LEWD CONDUCT (647a)
- DRUNK DRIVING (DUI)
- DRUG CHARGES
- SERIOUS FELONIES
- DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
- GANG RELATED CHARGES
- COMPUTER CRIMES
- WHITE COLLAR CRIMES
- PETTY THEFT
- GRAND THEFT
How the Process Works…
“I’ve been charged with a crime…what now?”
Although the procedures may differ somewhat depending on whether you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor and whether you are in state, federal or juvenile court, the initial appearance is basically the same. It will involve a brief appearance before a judge wherein a plea of “not guilty” is entered and a denial as to any specific allegations that may have been filed. At this hearing, the issue of bail will also be addressed.
Every person charged with a crime is entitled to a hearing to determine whether a bail should be set and, if so, in what amount. Some factors a judge will consider include:
- Length of time in the community
- Family ties to the community
- Prior record or lack thereof
- Any failures to appear in court (including traffic tickets!)
- The nature of the charges
A judge may grant a release without requiring any bail (“own recognizance” release) or may set a bail at a certain amount. Once set, a bond may be posted in various ways:
An individual may post the entire amount of the bond with the court. At the end of the case, assuming the individual made all required court appearances, the bond would be refunded in its entirety.
You may post the bond through a bail bondsman. The bondsman will charge 10% of the total bail as his fee and this will not be refundable. It will be necessary in most cases to have collateral for the other 90% of the bond, as the bondsman will be putting his money up for you. Contact our office for a bail bondsmen in our area.
In lieu of a bonding agency, you may post property that has equity at least two times the amount of the bail. This is done in a written bail motion and the property will be tied up until the criminal case has been finalized.
In a felony case (any crime where punishment could involve over a year in prison), one would have basically the following court appearances:
Initial arraignment (plea of “not guilty”)
At this hearing, your attorney, the district attorney and the judge sit down and try to work out a favorable disposition. If an agreement is reached, a plea of guilty is entered and the case is continued for sentencing. If the parties are unable to agree, the next hearing is the preliminary examination.
Here the district attorney will put on a shortened version of his case against you. He/she will most likely not call all the witnesses in the case, as this is not a formal trial. Although the defense has the opportunity to present its case, this is usually not done at this hearing. You will also have the opportunity to cross examine any of the witnesses against you.
A judge does not determine guilt or innocence and the burden of proof is not guilt beyond a reason of a doubt, like at trial. At this hearing, the judge simply decides if he/she has a “strong suspicion” that a crime was committed and that you were involved in the commission of that crime. Assuming that this burden is met, you are “bound-over” for trial.
Much like the initial court appearance, this again involves the formal statement of a “not guilty” plea and a denial as to any allegations. Also, all future court dates are assigned.
Motions Depending on the facts of the case, certain motions may be filed, such as illegal search and seizure, discovery or motions to set aside the earlier judge’s bound-over ruling.
Plea bargaining Again, this appearance is similar to the earlier plea bargaining session. However, by this time the district attorney will have had ample time to evaluate the case. Therefore, if the case appears stronger than originally thought, the offer may be worse than at the earlier plea bargaining session. On the other hand, if the evidence is not that strong, the offer may improve. Again, if the offer is accepted, a guilty plea is entered and the case is set for sentencing. If the parties are unable to resolve the matter, it is set for trial.
A jury of twelve people is selected to hear the evidence in the case. They must unanimously agree beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty in order to convict you. There are cases, however, where it may be to one’s advantage to waive trial by jury and have the evidence heard by the judge on the case.
If one pleads guilty or is found guilty after trial, the case is set for sentencing. The various options that are available for sentencing are as unique as the individuals and the cases. It would, therefore, be too numerous to list every option that one could raise. However, in every case, a person is referred to the probation office where a probation officer investigates the case and makes a recommendation to the judge as to an appropriate sentence.
What Happens After a Conviction:
In most cases, after either a plea of guilty or a finding of guilt after trial, the following options may be available:
- Motion for new trial or Motion to withdraw guilty plea
- These two motions must be addressed on a case by case basis, but both motions attempt to set aside the conviction.
- Appeal Again, the facts of each case must be examined to determine if one can bring an appeal and, if so, whether it would it have merit.
- Modification of sentence
- It is possible in some cases to come back before the sentencing judge and ask for modifications on some of the terms and conditions of probation.
- In some cases, after a person has successfully completed the terms and conditions of probation, it may be possible to appear before the court and have the conviction expunged from your record.
Please call our office today!!!
We can help answer your questions and…
may be able to save you from additional headaches.
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, don’t hesitate to call
an attorney who can advise you and help you through the uncomfortable proceedings.
(Note: Laws vary from state to state. The legal discussions contained herein are general in nature, but some of the concepts apply only to California law. The law in your state may be different. You should never attempt to analyze the legal ramifications of your own case. Always consult an attorney immediately if you believe you may have a legal problem).
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