California criminal laws are complicated. Even seasoned lawyers must continually polish their skill set to remain abreast of the ever-changing laws and defense tactics. At Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, we know too well that those facing criminal charges have an endless list of questions to ask. Fortunately, we have handled all sorts of cases through the years and can provide the detailed answers you need.
Additionally, we specialize in criminal litigation and can provide the legal representation and assistance you require when facing criminal charges.
Let’s go straight to answering some of the frequently asked questions. We will provide comprehensive answers, although it is best to contact us directly if you need more personalized solutions for your case.
When accused of a crime and arrested, you have legal rights that law enforcers and the courts must respect. The United States Constitution outlines these rights under the “Bill of Rights,” giving defendants a chance to defend themselves, especially when falsely accused.
Some of the most important rights to remember when arrested include the Fifth Amendment that frees you from being a witness against yourself. The Sixth Amendment, on the other hand, gives you a right to legal representation. Another important right is outlined under the Eighth Amendment, giving you the right to fair bail.
Those mentioned above are merely some of the rights of a defendant. Law enforcement officers understand these rights, although they will not hesitate to infringe on them, especially when working with an unknowledgeable defendant who lacks solid legal representation. The best way to protect your rights and best interests is to seek a skilled criminal defense attorney’s expertise.
Once you are arrested, the police will take you to the police station for booking. This is a process that involves documenting your personal and biographical information. Depending on your criminal history and arrest warrants issued in the past, the authorities may decide to keep or release you from custody.
If you are detained, you have the right to have your issue analyzed by a judicial officer. As this happens, the police will proceed to file a formal complaint against you with the courts. They will also gather any evidence that the prosecution can use to build a strong case against you. It is imperative to hire a lawyer at this point to help protect your rights and best interests.
The US constitution gives you the right to seek legal representation from the instant you are arrested and charged. State and federal laws also allow you to refrain from answering the authorities’ questions during an arrest.
Generally, it is safe to provide basic information about your identity. It is, however, best not to share any information about your case. Seek your attorney’s expertise immediately to prevent the risk of sharing incriminating information.
Yes. Again, your best chance of fighting a winning war is to have a competent criminal defense attorney in your corner. Let the expert know about the violated rights as soon as possible. The professional will investigate police conduct during your arrest and seek to have illicitly obtained evidence excluded from your case.
After gathering the needful evidence, your attorney will file a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence. If the motion is successful and some evidence against you is thrown out, this will automatically weaken the prosecution’s case. Depending on the complexity of a lawsuit, suppressed evidence could easily result in the dismissal of your charges or reduced penalties.
The police are obligated to read your Miranda rights during an arrest. They go as follows:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
In case the law enforcement officers don’t read out these rights, this does not necessarily mean that you don’t have a case to answer. However, any statements you make cannot be used by the prosecution to build a case against you. In the same respect, anything you say once the police issue the Miranda warning can be used against you in a court of law.
Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies. However, their impact on your criminal record is just as bad. A conviction for 1st degree or 2nd-degree misdemeanors could attract more than just hefty fines and jail time. Other collateral effects that may tag along include a tainted reputation, limited job opportunities, and denied housing within specific neighborhoods.
Hiring a competent attorney will not guarantee that you will not face any penalties. However, the professional will fight for your rights and best interests. This is irrespective of whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.
Compared to felonies, misdemeanors are less serious and often attract lesser penalties. They include crimes such as traffic offenses and petty theft. On the other hand, felonies are perceived to be more serious, and they involve crimes such as rape, murder, and assault, just to mention a few.
Arguably, you need a competent lawyer more when falsely accused. Merely pleading innocent cannot lead to the dismissal of your charges. The courts depend on facts to decide whether a defendant is guilty as charged or innocent. Your attorney uses proof and arguments to make the court and jury doubt your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Whether you are guilty or innocent, you must not underestimate the need to have a strong defense team fighting for you. The prosecution bears the burden of proof, and a highly-skilled attorney can help cast doubt on the case against you.
The right criminal defense attorney will have an in-depth understanding of the law. The professional will also have years of experience defending clients from the same kind of charges you face. Moreover, a lawyer worth hiring will have adequate court experience and the ability to negotiate with the prosecution zealously.
At Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, we have experience handling cases in both federal and state courts. Our competent team has vast experience defending a wide range of criminal charges. Irrespective of the crime you are accused of committing, you can trust us to provide the best legal defense team.
Each case is unique, and you can expect us to do skilled alternative scenario planning right from the beginning. We will help you understand and evaluate your options and do an in-depth risk assessment to help you make informed decisions.
Moreover, you can expect us to communicate openly and promptly during each stage of your case. We will provide timely updates about proceedings and their potential outcome to ensure you are well prepared for what lies ahead. It is also worth mentioning that all communications with our clients remain confidential and free of judgment.
Something else to expect from a competent criminal defense lawyer is creativity. We cannot stress enough the fact that criminal cases are different. We have the skills and the much-needed creativity to devise the proper resolutions for different circumstances.
The arraignment hearing is a crucial element within the criminal justice system. The hearing officially kicks off your case, allowing you to appear before the judge for the first time. You will enter a plea and admit or deny the guilt of committing a specific crime at this hearing.
You need an attorney to analyze your case and provide reliable guidance about the proper plea to enter. The expert can ensure you benefit from a suitable plea bargain if the best option is to plead guilty. In case the best course of action is to enter a not guilty plea, your attorney will help you prepare for trial.
The cost of seeking legal representation will depend on a variety of factors which may include:
An Attorney’s Experience
Hiring a tried and tested lawyer is never a cheap affair. However, it is worth it because the expert will have what it takes to provide the best possible legal representation. Less-experienced lawyers charge less, although this is not necessarily an indication of mediocre services. “Newbies” are known to go the extra mile to win and earn a praiseworthy reputation.
The Intricacy of Your Case
You are likely to pay more attorney fees to receive legal representation for felony charges than misdemeanor charges. If you are accused of a felony, the charges are more serious, which means that more is at stake. Your attorney may charge a higher fee because more time and resources are necessary to provide effective representation.
Another aspect that may affect the cost of legal representation is geography. Hiring a lawyer within thriving regions is guaranteed to be more expensive than hiring one within less prosperous parts of the country.
Even lawyers within the same town may not charge the same fees. It is crucial to research to find affordable yet effective legal representation. The idea is not to find the cheapest attorney but to find one who will give you the best value for your money.
It is perfectly okay to represent yourself, irrespective of the charges you face. However, the odds of your charges being dropped or reduced decrease considerably when battling serious criminal charges. Generally, it is safe to choose self-representation only when fighting minor charges.
When choosing between self-representation and hiring an attorney, you must first consider what is at stake. If a conviction puts you at risk of paying hefty fines or spending years in jail, then perhaps it makes better sense to hire the best legal defense team you can find.
If you have found yourself in a legal tussle for the first time, it can be challenging to know where to begin your research for the best attorney. It remains imperative to act with speed and secure reliable legal representation as soon as you are arrested. A reliable attorney will ensure no one tramples over your rights and will also prepare you for what lies ahead.
Here are practical tips for finding the best criminal defense attorney:
Seek Referrals From Other Attorneys
You can begin your research by seeking recommendations from other lawyers you have hired in the past. For instance, you could obtain a good lead from your divorce or bankruptcy lawyer. Make sure you focus on finding a legal representative who specializes in criminal litigation.
Word of mouth offers the best resource for finding the best local lawyers. However, you can depend on referral services if you cannot obtain personal recommendations. The best lawyer referral services list qualified, experienced, and well-reputed attorneys. Be sure to ask the hard questions before committing to the services of any professional.
Visit Local Reputable Criminal Law Firms
Focus on interviewing potential attorneys. While first impressions matter, there is more to finding the best criminal defense lawyer than merely choosing the firm with the best reception setting. You want to visit different experts for an initial consultation and find out what they can do to help with your case.
Some of the vital questions to ask include:
Based on the answers offered, you can decide whether you have found the right attorney. Be sure not to dismiss obvious red flags such as poor communication skills or an unpleasant personality.
When working with a court-appointed attorney or a public defender, you must seek a judge’s permission to change counsel. This request is rarely granted because most issues can be solved without involving a different lawyer. However, a judge may grant your request if a public defender is incompetent or you cannot mend your relationship with the specialist.
On the other hand, you are at liberty to seek different counsel at any moment when working with a privately hired attorney. You don’t need the court’s approval to fire your specialist if you are unhappy with the services offered.
Unfortunately, changing attorneys is not a cheap affair. You may find it reasonable to inform your current attorney about your needs and the expectations that are yet to be met. If you cannot find viable solutions, then you can proceed to seek different counsel.
Before you make any decisions, remember that your right to seek different counsel only goes as far as the prosecution’s right to ensure your case remains on schedule. In case you want to hire another lawyer right before crucial proceedings, for instance, your attorney may have to request court delays to allow adequate preparation. A judge can deny this request, especially if there are valid grounds for opposition from the prosecution.
If this is your first time facing criminal charges, you are likely to wonder how the criminal litigation process works. The justice system has several steps that begin from investigations and often end with appeals. It is best to understand that criminal cases’ life cycles tend to differ depending on the severity of the charges against a defendant.
Generally, these are the steps to expect during criminal litigation:
Before a defendant can be arrested and charged, the local police, county sheriff, or FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) start by conducting investigations. This allows them to gather facts about a matter and pile up evidence that can be used to build a case. Investigations are backed up with reports, videos, photos, and other items that can be used as proof.
If the investigations unveil “probable cause” or enough facts and evidence to believe you committed a crime, the police will use their legal authority to arrest you or secure an arrest warrant.
Law enforcers need more than just probable cause to arrest you without an arrest warrant. For the arrest to be legal, they must also have evidence that shows the necessity of putting you in custody immediately. On the other hand, a court cannot issue an arrest warrant if all the police have is suspicion. Again, law enforcers must table adequate facts, information, and evidence to obtain an arrest warrant from a judge.
Formal Charging a Crime
After an arrest, the police will present the findings of their investigations to a prosecutor. It is the prosecutor’s work to review the police report, examine the available evidence, and determine whether there are enough grounds to file criminal charges against a defendant.
If a case proceeds, the prosecutor will fill and file charging documents with the court. However, when accused of committing a felony and your case must go through the federal system, the prosecution must present the gathered evidence to a grand jury.
The jury evaluates the evidence and decides whether there are enough grounds to assume that you are guilty. If they find probable cause, then the case will proceed to the next stage after the filing of an indictment.
It takes no more than 48 hours for a defendant to be arrested and charged. After this, they are expected to appear for an arraignment. This is the initial hearing of a case where the defendant meets a judge for the first time. During this hearing, the accused learn about their charges and enter a guilty or not guilty plea.
The arraignment is a crucial defining point in your case. Even though it merely takes a few minutes, what transpires during the hearing will set the tone for the rest of your case. The best way to prepare for an arraignment is to seek a skilled criminal litigation lawyer’s counsel.
The discovery process allows your attorney to find out more about the case the prosecution has against you. Then again, the prosecutor will also discover the facts and evidence your attorney has gathered. This step involves a two-way exchange of information meant to help both parties unveil the truth and possibly save the court’s precious time.
During discovery, some of the materials exchanged include witness statements, photos, videos, police reports, and any essential information that either party plans to use during trial.
If the prosecution has a strong case against a defendant, it may be best to take a plea bargain and dodge a trial. Your attorney and the prosecution can strike a deal to have your charges or penalties reduced in exchange for a guilty plea. The idea is to offer a lighter sentence in exchange for saving time and taxpayers money.
A case only goes to a preliminary hearing if a defendant charged with a felony pleads not guilty. This hearing is not necessary when facing misdemeanor charges or after an indictment by a grand jury. During the proceedings, the prosecution must provide adequate evidence to convince the judge of the need to let a trial proceed.
If a judge finds probable cause, a criminal case can move to trial. However, the charges against a defendant will be dropped if the prosecution fails to convince a judge of a defendant’s possible guilt.
The Sixth Amendment of the constitution gives defendants the right to a trial. You also have a right to let a judge or jury decide your case. It is from this process that you will know of your fate.
If you choose a jury trial and the jury finds you guilty, the case will proceed to the sentencing phase. The laws define the penalties for different crimes, although a judge also has the discretion to decide on the proper sentencing based on the severity of the charges against you.
Some of the factors a judge may consider during sentencing include your criminal history, the damage and loss suffered by a victim, and how you express regret for your crime. In some instances, the judge may even suggest or consider alternative sentencing to serving time behind bars.
If convicted of a crime, this is not the end for you. You can still file an appeal and request a higher court to review a case and possibly change the first judge’s decision. An appeal can focus on the conviction or the sentencing.
It is essential to understand that appeals are not trials. They are designed to give defendants the chance to highlight errors with the trial judge or even their legal representatives. For instance, you can file an appeal on the grounds that a trial judge refused to suppress illicitly obtained evidence.
If the appeal is successful, this could lead to altering a sentence or reversal of a conviction. In some instances, it could also result in a new trial.
The processes involved when handling criminal cases are complex. It is crucial to work with an attorney to increase your chances of achieving the best outcome the first time. While it is possible to file an appeal, a higher court will rarely dismiss the initial sentencing or conviction.
The primary role of a prosecutor is to build a case against criminal defendants. The expert is an attorney who works for the local, state, tribal, or federal government. Generally, the prosecution protects the general public’s interests and helps the government keep “criminals” off the streets. Other names used to refer to prosecutors include state’s attorney, city attorney, district attorney, county attorney, and solicitor.
Probably yes. It is not an individual but the government that processes criminal charges. Even if a victim drops the charges, the prosecution is still unlikely to dismiss a case, especially if there are other witnesses and plenty of evidence against you.
Whether or not to set bail is a matter that is purely at the discretion of a judge. Some of the aspects considered when setting bail include the defendant’s flight risk and the severity of the charges faced. A judge can also decide to release you without bail on the agreement you show up for court hearings.
Posting bail will help you secure your freedom after the arraignment. Doing so allows you to lead an everyday life as you await trial. Apart from cash bails, the courts also accept property bails and surety.
Yes. All you need to do is petition the court that convicted you and request your criminal record’s sealing. Such a move prevents potential employers and the general public from accessing information about your conviction.
California laws allow the dismissal of a criminal record if:
A Conviction Resulted In Probation
If you were convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor and a judge gave sentencing in the form of probation, you can petition to have your record dismissed as long as you have satisfied the conditions of your sentencing. You are not eligible for the dismissal of your criminal history when serving another sentence or during the probation period.
The Courts Dismiss Your Probation Sentencing
The courts may choose to dismiss a probation sentencing once you meet certain conditions. For instance, a judge may lift probation after you settle fines and restitution.
You Have Completed Your Sentencing in a County Jail
If you are convicted of committing a felony and have completed your sentencing in county jail, you may be eligible for record sealing. The waiting period to file a petition would be one year if your sentencing involved mandatory supervision. If it didn't, you must wait for two years before filing.
You Have Completed Your Sentencing in a State Prison
Anyone convicted of a felony and sentenced to serve time in state prison before 1st October 2011 is also eligible for adult criminal records’ dismissal. You, however, must wait for two years to elapse after completing your sentence before you can file a petition.
Unfortunately, some criminal records cannot be sealed or erased. If you have such a record, you can request the courts for a Certification of Rehabilitation. This will show potential employers that you are now a standup citizen who has been successfully rehabilitated.
Unfortunately, not even the most experienced lawyer in California can guarantee the outcome of a case. Each case is unique, and some of the variables that influence the outcome are not in your attorney’s control. These variables include:
The demeanor of a defendant during court proceedings
Find a Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm Near Me
We have answered 20 of the most frequently asked questions about criminal cases. However, the above are merely general answers that apply in most situations. For more personalized assistance and an in-depth assessment of your case, contact the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm. We have extensive experience handling all kinds of criminal cases and can provide just the assistance you require. Call us today at 626-628-0564 for a free criminal case evaluation.
I highly recommend this Law Firm. I was working with them for more than a year. I can not say enough good things about them. They are professional, knowledgeable, and very willing but most important is they are nice, easy to get a hold of, sympathetic, non judgmental and all about the client. I got absolutely amazing results that I never expected and was worried to death. They made my worries go away. They are also reasonably priced and work with a client according to their financial ability. Absolutely 5 star firm.
Recently got into trouble this past year and I was fearing for the worst, but Michele and her team achieved the best possible outcome for my scenario. Very professional and straight to the point on what will most likely happen with your case. Thank you guys so much.
Mrs. Ferroni did a wonderful job representing me with my case. True to her word during our initial consultation, she provided timely updates and successfully challenged opposing counsel As a result, my case was successful and moved through the system faster than expected. Highly recommend using her again.
Call 626-628-0564 to speak with our attorneys today. We offer a free initial consultation as we give you the chance to get the answers you need and make an informed decision about your charges. Take the crucial first step of combating your charges and put your life back on track by contacting Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm.