Sunday, June 26, 2016

New Relief for DEJ Drug Convictions - Penal Code Section 1203.43

Effective January 1, 2016, a new law was enacted, Penal Code Section 1203.43, which can provide substantial benefits for documented and undocumented immigrants who accepted "deferred entry of judgment" pursuant to Penal Code Section 1000 thinking it would keep their record clean of a drug or narcotics conviction.

If you have suffered a conviction for possession of a drug or controlled substance, and are either pursuing lawful status or wish to avoid serious immigration consequences such as deportation (removal), exclusion (inadmissibility), or denial of naturalization (citizenship), you may be able to petition the court to clear your record.

Contact the my law office immediately for a free consultation to determine if you are eligible for such relief.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What is a Section 17?

Penal Code Section 17(b) provides an opportunity to request that a criminal conviction be reduced after sentencing from a felony to a misdemeanor for most - not all - offenses, and even from a misdemeanor to an infraction for certain specified violations.

The long term effects of a felony conviction are obvious. It can be used to deny employment, professional licensing, firearm possession, and certain government benefits. And the stigma alone associated with having a felony on one's record can be personally devastating.

In the event you have suffered a felony or misdemeanor conviction in the past and have successfully completed your probation (and did not serve your jail term in state prison), in most cases - not all - you are eligible to apply for a reduction.

In most cases you will receive a result within 60 days or less.  Please feel free to contact my office now for a free initial consultation.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

You've Been Arrested - How Soon Should I Hire a Lawyer?

I am often asked by potential clients how soon should they hire a lawyer. My answer is always the same: "as soon as possible!"

If you've been arrested for a felony or a misdemeanor offense, having an attorney early-on can help mitigate any penalty you're facing. If your attorney is experienced and familiar with the customs, personalities and policies of the court that has jurisdiction over your case, he can devise a defense strategy and take important first steps which can favorably affect the ultimate disposition of your case.

The only reason not to hire an attorney are the fees associated with doing so. Retaining an experienced attorney can be expensive. Obviously, no one plans into their budget the cost of hiring a lawyer. But unless you're not particularly concerned about the longterm effects of an arrest, a simple cost/benefit analysis will always land in favor of hiring an attorney to help mitigate the serious consequences you're facing.

Please feel free to contact my office now for a free initial consultation.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

How Do Criminal Lawyers Structure their Fees?

Most criminal defense attorneys in California work on a "flat fee" retainer basis. That is, in most cases the attorney will charge a single lump sum paid before representation begins. Most lawyers in this field do not bill on an hourly basis.

The retainer usually covers most services required to settle your case before trial. However, fees can increase substantially in the event complex legal issues arise or you choose to go to "jury trial."

Because of the brevity of most criminal matters prolonged "payment plans" are not usually available. While in theory the amount of the fee is negotiable, as a practical matter they usually fall within a standard range determined by the seriousness of your situation. For example, a simple misdemeanor matter might typically start around $1,500.00 to settle before trail, but that can be higher depending on the complexity of your case, your prior record, the court location, etc. Felonies are usually much more expensive.

The fees are also based upon the level of experience of the attorney handling your case. Unfortunately, because other factors can also determine the amount, fees can vary widely and it is difficult for a client to assess which fee is reasonable for any given situation. Although the lawyer that offers the lowest fee can be most appealing when your resources are low, in my experience an attorney that charges less will often lack the experience or time necessary to represent you properly. As is the case with most things, going with the "lowest bidder" is not always the best choice in the long run.

It is my custom and practice to offer my clients the best value I can for the fee that's paid. While my fees are not the lowest, they are competitive and are set with idea of providing you the most complete representation possible in your case. All major credit cards are accepted. Call my office now for a free consultation.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Post Conviction Remedies for Deportation Relief

There is a large population of immigrants in the South Bay area, both documented and undocumented. Currently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have implemented a policy to seek out, detain and remove aliens with criminal convictions.

In the event you have suffered a conviction that is being used against you in deportation proceedings, it is possible to file a "motion to vacate the judgment of conviction." It is not a simple process, and is discretionary with the court, but in the event adequate grounds exist it can be a lifesaver.

My office has had much success in filing such motions. In the event you are facing deportation, or wish to take steps to help avoid deportation in the future, or want to clear the way to obtaining legal status, don't hesitate to contact my office at your earliest convenience.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Record Clearances : Limited Relief

Once you've obtained a  "record clearance" or "expungment" pursuant Penal Code Section 1203.4, that does not mean that your criminal record has been erased. What it does mean is that your conviction is modified to reflect that your case was dismissed after you successfully completed probation. Your arrest and conviction will still appear. 

It's important to note, however, that a record clearance is recognized by many employers as effectively "clearing your record" for purposes of offering employment - despite the fact that the conviction still shows. Also, it's common for various applications for employment to exempt convictions that have been "expunged."

Moreover, obtaining a record clearance is evidence of "rehabilitation" for purposes of obtaining or renewing professional licenses offered by the state of California.

Finally, there is some question as to whether a private employer can even ask about misdemeanors that have been "expunged." (See: California Code of Regulations 7287.)  As a practical matter, however, it's unlikely that an employer would set aside their internal policies and disregard your conviction in the event you bring this regulation to their attention!  

Please contact my office if you feel that a record clearance is something that would benefit you.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Record Clearances - How do I Get One?

In the event you want to "clear" your record, in most instances the only relief that's available to you is a "record clearance" or "expungement" pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4 (1203.4a for infractions). There are other similar types of relief, such as a petition to seal an arrest record, or a petition for a certificate of rehabilitation, or even a governor's pardon. But the latter are far more difficult to obtain and in most cases you're probably not technically eligible for such relief.

So, if a record clearance is your only viable alternative, how do you obtain it? First of all, you must be eligible. Most crimes, but not all, are eligible. And you must no longer be on probation for the underlying offense - or any other offense, for that matter. Also, you should have successfully completed all of the terms of your probation. If you were never given probation, one year must have elapsed since your conviction. And outstanding fines or fees must have been paid in full.

If you're eligible, the next step is to file the required form and pay the $150.00 filing fee ($60.00 for infractions). You can do this without the assistance of a lawyer, but in most cases it will take much longer to get a decision. A record clearance will be granted for most crimes, but not all. A "dui" conviction, for example, can be expunged, but it's discretionary with the judge which means it can be denied and in such cases you'll have to retain an attorney to persuade the court that it should be granted.

If you're seeking "discretionary" relief, or even if you have not completed your entire term of probation, you should consider retaining an experienced attorney to both petition the court to terminate probation early and grant your record clearance in an expedited fashion - in most cases within 45 days.

In my next blog post, I will explain what it means once you actually obtain a record clearance.