The police officers involved write reports about the crime, obtain witness statements, run a background check of the suspect, and do further investigation as needed before submitting their work to an investigating detective. Often, this is they most propitious time for a California Criminal Defense Lawyer to make a dramatic impact in a Pre-Filing Intervention, as the police usually know very little about the person arrested. The police then bring their written investigation to the District Attorney’s Office. A prosecutor reviews the documents to determine whether criminal charges – a misdemeanor or a felony – are warranted. The prosecutor has the option of rejecting the case for criminal prosecution, filing a misdemeanor, or filing a felony charge.
Frequently Asked Questions
If the police arrest you, immediately ask to call an attorney. Do not say anything to the police that could incriminate you. Even if you are innocent and were in no way involved in the crime for which you have been arrested, ask for an attorney and do not speak to the police without a criminal defense attorney present.
The definition of a felony in California is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for 16 months or more. A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail of one year or less. Felony convictions are more serious crimes than misdemeanors, as they frequently require formal felony probation, supervision by a probation officer, and the loss of certain civil liberties (voting, serving on jury, possessing a firearm).
It is always in your best interest to consult a criminal defense lawyer as early as possible if you suspect you will be facing the criminal justice system. Whether or not you believe you have been wrongfully accused, an attorney will fight for your legal and constitutional rights and monitor the proceedings for legality and fairness. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for free legal counsel.
Bail is financial assurance that a defendant will return to court after being released from custody. There are two ways to post bail.
First, “cash” bail may be posted with the custodial agency to cover the entire amount of the bail. At the end of the case, if bail is exonerated, the defendant will receive a check for the entire amount posted (takes about 8-10 weeks).
Second, a “bond” through a bail company may be posted. A defendant pays about 10% of the entire amount to a bail company, which puts up the entire bail amount through a bond. The premium payment is not returned to the defendant after the case ends.
Not necessarily. There are many reasons why the alleged victim or reporting party may have a change of heart. It may be that the report of crime (violence, theft, or other violation) may have been false or inaccurate. It may also be that the person is scared to proceed with a prosecution. The police and the prosecutor’s office are aware of all the reasons, and do not just “drop charges” especially in domestic violence cases. They attempt to re-interview the reporting party to understand the reason behind the change of heart.
A minor is prosecuted for criminal conduct in a separate juvenile court system. The philosophy of the juvenile justice system is that children should not be punished or stigmatized for criminal conduct because of their immature abilities to make proper choices and recognize right from wrong. Instead the role of the juvenile justice system is seen as rehabilitative and guiding. For particularly violent crimes, adolescents may be tried in the adult system.
There is no right to bail pursuant to California juvenile laws. The juvenile is either deemed “detained” or “non-detained” during arraignment. He/she remains in the same status until a contested detention hearing or the end of the case. An aggressive and thorough defense strategy is required to get the minor released at arraignment.
Arraignment is the initial court proceeding where a defendant is advised of his charges, and usually enters a “Not Guilty” plea. This proceeding is not a trial, and witnesses do not come forward to testify. It provides defense counsel an opportunity to obtain the police reports, the criminal complaint, and set a preliminary hearing date.
Your license will be suspended unless you request a DMV hearing 10 days after your arrest. You or your attorney must call and request a hearing immediately. Even if you have the DUI dismissed in court, the DMV will still suspend your license if you fail to set a hearing date.
A prosecutor makes an independent decision on what charges to file, irrespective of what the arrest was for. In most domestic violence cases, the Los Angeles Police Department arrests people for felony charges carrying $50,000 bail. After many of these arrests, prosecutors file misdemeanor offenses, rather than felonies, especially after an immediate pre-filing intervention by our law firm.