What happens after someone is arrested?
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.
What to do if you are arrested?
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.
What is the difference under California law between a misdemeanor and a felony?
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).
When should I speak to an attorney?
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.
How is bail posted?
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.
If the complaining witness wants to “drop all charges,” will the case be dismissed?
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.
How does Juvenile Court work?
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.
What happens at the first court hearing after charges are filed? What is an 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.
In a DUI case, what is the first thing to do?
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.
If I was arrested for a felony, does that mean I will face felony charges in court?
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.
What if I feel that the police violated my constitutional rights?
A criminal defense attorney seeks to exclude evidence obtained as a result of police misconduct. At times, police misconduct occurs in searches that take place during ordinary traffic stops or in a suspect's home. Additionally, if law enforcement is too aggressive in trying to obtain an incriminating statement from a suspect, it may violate the suspect's Miranda rights. Litigation in the criminal court allows a defense lawyer to protect his client's rights by submitting motions to the judge seeking to exclude the recovered evidence or received statements from trial. Often a successful motion to suppress evidence cripples the prosecutor's case, causing the case to either be dismissed or substantially reduced in plea negotiations.
Do you present evidence of mitigation in a courtroom on behalf of clients?
The criminal court system in Los Angeles, California deals with thousands of cases. How do criminal defense lawyers humanize a client to busy criminal courts? While this is not the easiest task to accomplish in the Southern California justice system, our criminal defense lawyers work to humanize all of our clients to mitigate a possible sentence. Persuading Los Angeles prosecutors, probation officers and judges to recognize that a client's life cannot be defined based solely on the conduct that brought him/her into court takes patience and tenacity. Our lawyers work to explain that few persons are accurately defined by the worst thing they ever did. Unfortunately, unless we intervene to demonstrate the contrary, the default of the justice system is to assume that this crime resonates to our client's behavior in daily life.
If the defendant is not a U.S. citizen, how will the immigration status be affected by an arrest?
Criminal convictions may cause direct and grave consequences to someone's immigration status, often leading to deportation proceedings. The INS guidelines are often very complex and our criminal defense attorneys frequently confer with immigration law specialists to properly advise clients. Before going to court, our criminal lawyers discuss with clients their immigration status. Often our Los Angeles attorneys seek charges that are not considered by the INS as moral turpitude offenses (which are subject to deportation), and to convert any possible custody time to community service work.
In Los Angeles, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department is responsible for running the jails and verifies immigration status upon receiving an inmate. As a result, as soon as an inmate is in custody (even if charges are later dismissed), an “immigration hold” may be placed subjecting him or her to deportation proceedings. The inmate may be deported from the United States after the INS picks the inmate up from Sheriff's custody. The saddest part is that the inmate may be innocent of all charges and still be deported because his/her immigration status is questioned.
Deportation may be preventable, especially when a defendant has financial resources to bail out immediately after an arrest.
State v. Federal Court: What is the difference in criminal defense issues?
Federal court cases are typically investigated by federal agencies, including the FBI, DEA, Customs, Treasury, and other federal agencies. Sometimes state and local agencies also file charges in federal court if the offenses involve major quantity of drugs, weapons or other contraband. The federal government has more resources to prosecute cases, including special units to prosecute drugs, fraud, and violent crimes. While the state and local government also has special units, they have fewer prosecutors with larger case loads. Also, local law enforcement does not have nearly as many resources to complete investigations with as much thoroughness as federal law enforcement. For the most part, it is definitely in a criminal defendant's interest to be prosecuted in state, rather than federal court. The state of California's sentencing system has more flexibility in terms of alternative sentencing options than the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Accusation of Hit & Run: Should you call the police yourself in response to a letter you received about an accident you were in?
The criminal offense commonly known as Hit and Run is a violation of the Vehicle Code, which requires all drivers involved in a car accident to stop and exchange information. If there are injuries, the offense may be prosecuted as a felony, as the law considers leaving the scene of an accident without rendering aid to an injured party as felonious conduct (which carries a maximum of a year in the county jail or three years in prison). Often, LAPD or other investigating agencies will send a letter to the driver that left the scene of the accident, or the vehicle's owner, asking them to contact a detective. This is when a lawyer could be of great help. By speaking to the police without an attorney, you may be incriminating yourself.
Drug Addiction – How is this issue addressed within the court system, and within your criminal defense practice?
The obvious and sad reality is that addiction often leads to criminal behavior including theft, drug sales, DUI, and other more serious criminal violations. There are numerous drug programs in Southern California, in-patient and out-patient, available to treat drug and alcohol addiction. Often we have used these programs as an alternative to jail or prison for clients in custody as part of the Alternative Sentencing scheme. Under California criminal law, a defendant will avoid jail or prison upon successful completion of a drug rehabilitation programs such as Deferred Entry of Judgment, Proposition 36, and Drug Diversion. While keeping clients out of jail is the firm's main objective, we are also concerned about recidivism. We want to prevent clients from relapsing and being rearrested. Accordingly, we counsel clients to take their rehabilitation seriously. We encourage them to commit to change with a sponsor or the 12-step lifestyle, and also encourage seeing a therapist on a regular basis.
What is Embezzlement?
The criminal conduct called “embezzlement,” is typically charged in California criminal courts as a violation of Penal Code Section 487(a)—commonly known as Grand Theft (if the theft exceeds $400). The offense carries a maximum of 1 year in the county jail or 3 years in prison. If the amount of theft exceeds $50,000, the “Economic Crimes” enhancements are applicable, and the prison time is increased to 4 years and up. When appropriate mitigation is presented to the Court and the District Attorney, the large majority of our clients have not gone to jail or prison. This is because we worked out alternative dispositions involving community service, restitution, probation, and fines instead of jail. What if the employer wants to drop the charges? The police and prosecutors are usually unwilling to dismiss a case once it is filed, as they are concerned that resources have been expended to investigate, document, and bring the case to court.
Failing to Appear in Court: What are the Consequences for your driving privilege?
A failure appear reported by a court to the DMV will result in your license being suspended, until this issue is cleared up with the court. Sometimes clients have numerous failures to appear, throughout Southern California. Each of these warrants must be cleared up to have the DMV reissue driving privilege. Courts will notify the DMV once the failures to appear are cleared. So long as the driving privilege is not suspended for any other reason (such as excessive points, DUI conviction, no insurance on file), you can receive your license back when you show proof of insurance to the DMV, and pay a license reassurance fee. Also, the DMV may require that you present it with a “Z” abstract, issued by the court, showing proof that the failure to appear has been cleared.
How can I clear up an arrest warrant?
Clearing up an arrest or bench warrant can be done one way: appearing in front of the court that issued the warrant. As long as the warrant is in the system, the person can be arrested for it in any state, in any contact with the police or government agency, and even coming into the United States at the airport. Immediate action to clear up the warrant is the best way to approach this legal problem. Voluntarily coming into the court may often prevent later jail or prison time if the person is actually arrested on the warrant.
Why should I hire Eisner & Gorin?
At Eisner & Gorin, our legal team is comprised of aggressive defense attorneys that are Former Los Angeles Prosecutors. We are well-versed in all criminal law and defense matters, and very experienced working within the Southern California criminal justice system. Our criminal defense attorneys have over 50 years of collective courtroom experience and we are fully prepared to undertake our clients' cases. When we work with our clients, we do everything possible to make sure that they receive the attention, resources, and dedicated legal counsel that they deserve. We seek to keep our clients out of jail through Alternative Sentencing programs and to expunge their criminal records so that the weight of a criminal conviction, if not avoided, can be lifted. These are some of the reasons why we have been recognized as a Top 5% U.S. Law Firm year after year.
Our firm does work out payment plans with our clients, based on the seriousness of the case, and the amount of legal work neceesary.
What types of cases does your law firm handle?
The Criminal Defense Attorneys at Eisner & Gorin handle all misdemeanor and felony cases involving: DUI, Sex Crimes, White Collar Crimes, Drug Crimes, Violent Crimes, Federal Crimes, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Three Strikes Crimes, and Theft Crimes. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys also represent clients who have been charged with property crimes, internet crimes, hit & run, and probation violation. Additionally, we are able to help clients with their warrant, DMV suspension, and expungement matters.