Immediately. Getting arrested is a confusing and stressful experience. You will no doubt have several questions regarding the arrest, the investigation, the possible impact to your criminal record, and the potential consequences of your case. Consulting with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible will help provide you with answers to your questions and valuable advice, so that you can make an informed decision on how to fight your case. In fact, contacting an attorney immediately will allow your representative to get a head start on any investigation ahead of the District
Additionally, if you have been arrested, it is extremely important to contact a qualified Criminal Defense Attorney, prior to answering any questions from a law enforcement agency. Always remember: You have the right to representation throughout your case and the right to remain silent during any custodial interrogation.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, because the fee for most attorneys varies significantly based on the complexity of the case, geographic area, and professional experience. At the Law Office of Christopher Cannon, I charge a reasonable and extremely competitive fee, tailored to your particular case. In most instances, I will quote you a flat fee for the specific stages of the legal proceedings. Unlike many local attorneys, the quoted fee includes any necessary Motions or evidentiary hearings.
In the majority of cases, the District Attorney’s Office will review a report from law enforcement and make the decision as to whether to file criminal charges against you. If the District Attorney’s Office decides to press charges, the next step in the process is Arraignment. An Arraignment is where the Judge reads the criminal charges in the Complaint to the Defendant, informs the Defendant of his or her Constitutional Rights, and asks the Defendant for his or her plea. The Defendant may plead “not guilty” or “guilty” at Arraignment. At Arraignment, the Court will also address the Defendant’s custody status pending the resolution of the case and set bail, where appropriate.
Following Arraignment, your attorney will analyze the strengths of your case, investigate every possible defense, and discuss with the District Attorney the potential for resolution. The next Court date will often be a pre-trial conference or, in a felony case, a Preliminary Hearing. As stated above, if you were arrested, you should request to speak to a lawyer immediately.
Unless you have been charged with a homicide or similar serious offense, pose a significant threat to the safety of the alleged victim or the community, or present a substantial risk of failing to appear for future Court dates, the Court must set bail for your case. Bail represents a financial security or assurance given to the Court for the release of a Defendant from custody, in order to ensure the Defendant will make all required Court appearances. In most cases, the Court will set a bail amount according to the local bail schedule, which varies based on the severity of the charges and/or the number of counts in the Complaint. Once the Court has set bail, you would have the opportunity to post the entire bail amount, or contact a local bail bondsmen.
If you have been arrested, your attorney could request the Court release you on your own recognizance and/or Petition the Court for a Bail Review Hearing. Either way, it is important to have an experienced attorney advocating for you, to try and prevent you from staying in custody throughout your case.
5. I'VE BEEN ARRESTED FOR A CRIME RELATED TO DRUGS AND I WANT HELP, DO I HAVE ANY OPTIONS?
Absolutely. In California, there are several options for people facing addiction and drug dependency issues. For instance, in some cases, the Court is statutorily required to offer drug treatment. More specifically, there are programs such as Drug Diversion (Deferred Entry of Judgment) and Proposition 36. Additionally, some Defendant’s can qualify for more intensive treatment, participate in Drug Court, or seek residential treatment as a potential sentencing alternative. It is important to note, these programs vary significantly in intensity and requirements. Further, not all Defendants automatically qualify for drug counseling. Once you’ve made the difficult decision to address any problems with addiction, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced criminal attorney, so that he or she can explore all possible resolutions with the District Attorney and can explain all of the different requirements of the various drug programs.
Just as in adult Court, it is equally important to seek out the advice of an attorney with experience in Juvenile Court and Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 cases. While Juvenile Court often has similar criminal proceedings as adult Court, the most important distinction is the focus on rehabilitation, and not punishment, of the minor.
Instead of appearing at an Arraignment, the minor must first appear at a Detention Hearing, where the Court will read the Petition filed by the District Attorney’s Office. At the detention hearing the Court will consider a Detention Report prepared by the Probation Department, which details the minor’s criminal record, home environment, and behavior at school, in order to determine whether the minor must remain in custody pending resolution of the case.
If the matter is not resolved at the Detention Hearing or a subsequent pre-trial conference, the case is usually set for a Jurisdictional Hearing. Instead of a trial by jury, in Juvenile Court, the case is presented in front of a Judge. It is important to note that at a Jurisdictional Hearing, the prosecution still holds the burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt and the rules of Evidence still apply.
Fortunately, in Juvenile cases there are many programs available that could allow a minor to “earn” a dismissal of the case. Further, there are many ways to achieve an Order from the Court sealing a minor’s Juvenile Record. That is why having an experienced attorney in Juvenile Delinquency cases is essential to advocate for the proper rehabilitation of your child.
Absolutely. Under California Penal Code section 1203.3, a Defendant’s probation can be modified at any point during the probationary period. Common requests to modify one’s probation include, requesting a jail sentence be served on weekends, converting a Court fine into jail time, clarifying a no contact and/or a stay away order, and switching the location of DUI or Anger Management counseling classes.
Additionally, if presented with compelling reasons and the Defendant has complied with all of the terms of probation, a Court could terminate a Defendant’s probation early. Once your probation has been terminated, you can then file a Petition to have your Record Expunged (see below).
8. I HAVE ALREADY BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME, DOES THE CONVICTION HAVE TO STAY ON MY RECORD?
No. Under Penal Code section 1203.4, a Defendant can have certain criminal convictions expunged from his or her record. If a Petition to Expunge a conviction is granted, then the Defendant is allowed to withdraw a previous plea or guilty verdict, and have the Court once again enter a "not guilty" plea. The case is then DISMISSED by the Court. Having a criminal conviction expunged could alleviate many of the problems associated with having a criminal record. For example, you may legally answer that you have not been convicted of a crime on PRIVATE job applications.
In addition to filing a Petition under 1203.4, for some felony cases, your attorney can also file a Motion to Reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor under Penal Code section 17(b) at the same time. A reduction of a felony conviction to a misdemeanor can restore certain rights that were taken from a Defendant.
In order to qualify to have your conviction expunged, you cannot be currently facing criminal charges, you must have been granted probation, you must have completed probation without any violations, and you must have complied with all of the terms of your probation (ie paid off all fines, restitution, and/or completed all counseling programs). Even if you have not completed one of the terms of your probation or you were never granted probation, please contact the Law Office of Christopher Cannon to see whether I can still help you. Just because your case is more complex, does not mean your conviction cannot be expunged based on the interests of justice.