Whenever you are facing criminal charges, your right to freedom may be seriously affected unless you take certain steps to protect yourself. There are generally three types of criminal offenses: Infractions, Misdemeanors and Felonies. Infractions are the least serious and generally include minor vehicle code offenses. Misdemeanors are more aggravated offenses, sometimes carrying up to a maximum of one year in county jail and include Driving Under the Influence, Driving on a Suspended License, Hit-and-Run and Petty Theft. Felony cases are the most serious, generally carrying prison terms if convicted and include Sale or Transportation of Narcotics, Burglary, Robbery, Rape, Grand Theft and various types of Homicide.
Under the State and Federal Constitution, every individual is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We will form a strategy which will guarantee that your rights will not be violated and that you are given equal justice under the law.
The Criminal Process: How it Works
The criminal process typically begins with a stop of your vehicle by law enforcement which may lead to an arrest if the officer believes there is enough evidence to obtain a conviction for a particular offense. You have certain rights at every stage of the criminal process. The following is a brief explanation of each step from a stop through sentencing.
The Arrest You may be stopped for questioning by the police. A stop is not the same as an arrest. A stop occurs when a police officer detains you to ask you questions, but does not move you to a different location. A police officer should not stop you unless he has a reasonable belief that you have violated the law. Even though you are not under arrest at this point, it is wise to cooperate, but not necessarily incriminate yourself. The police may also ask to search you or your vehicle. The police officer cannot search your car without your consent unless he has “probable cause”. “Probable cause” is a legal determination that you won’t be able to challenge until later. Because of this, you may want to tell the police officer that you do not consent to a search of your vehicle. The police officer may perform a search anyway, but if it is later determined that there was not probable cause, at least you did not consent to the search. The police officer could decide at this point that there is no reason to arrest you and your involvement in the criminal process could end here.
Each jurisdiction has different rules regarding when an individual can be placed under arrest. In general, an officer can arrest you if he has probable cause to believe that you committed a felony, or if he sees you commit a misdemeanor, or if there is a warrant for your arrest. When you are arrested you will be taken into police custody.
When you are placed under arrest, the police must inform you of your constitutional rights (Miranda Rights). This includes your right to remain silent and your right to obtain the advice of an attorney. When you are arrested, you should be given an opportunity to contact a lawyer or anyone else you want to let know what has happened to you. You are not limited to a single call. Once you are arrested, there is a limited amount of time before you must either be charged with a crime or released. If you have been held for an unreasonable amount of time without being charged, your attorney can ask a judge to order your release.
The Booking Process After you are arrested and charged with a crime you will be booked. You will be finger printed. Your name and the crime that you have been charged with will be entered into the official police record. Your personal belongings will be taken from you for safe keeping while you are in custody. They will be inventoried and you will be asked to sign the inventory. Depending on the charge and the circumstances of your case, you may be released and ordered to appear for your hearing in court. You may be released on your own recognizance or you may have to put up a certain amount of bail to secure your release.
In other instances, you may remain in police custody until there is a court hearing on your release. If this happens, you will be asked to enter a plea. You can enter a plea of “not guilty”, “no contest”, or “guilty”. If you enter a not guilty plea the judge will decide on the terms of your release or if you will be released pending your trial.
If you enter a plea of no contest or of guilty, there will not be a trial. In this situation, you will either be sentenced immediately or sentenced at a later time. If you are to be sentenced at some point in the future, the judge will determine whether you should be held in custody until sentencing or whether you should be released and ordered to appear for sentencing.
If you entered a not guilty plea you will have a trial. At the end of your trial, if you are found not guilty, you will be free to go, and, for you, the criminal process will end at that point. If you are found guilty, you will go through the sentencing process as described above.
Having a lawyer with experience in criminal defense can make a tremendous difference to the outcome of your case. He or she can help you through every stage of the criminal process.
TRUST AN AGGRESSIVE EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY
|Hoffman & Associates||Riverside location|
|100 Oceangate Blvd, Suite 1200
Long Beach, CA 90802
Phone: (562) 628-5541
Fax: (562) 628-5509
|North Jefferson Business Park
41593 Winchester Rd., Suite 200
Temecula, CA 92590
Phone: (888) 377 9770
|San Bernardino location||Premier- Spectrum|
|The Executive Suite At Haven
9431 Haven Avenue, Suite 100
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Phone: (888) 377 9770
|7700 Irvine Center Drive, Suite 600
Irvine, CA 92618
Phone: (888) 377 9770