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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Search and Seizure : What does it mean?

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is that they believe they were illegally searched by the police. It's important to note that search and seizure issues are among the most complex areas of law and very difficult to win.

Even if you have a valid claim, that does not mean that you automatically prevail. Ultimately the judge must agree with you - and they rarely do. And in virtually every case you're going to have a zealous prosecutor vehemently arguing that the search was legal.

However, Fourth Amendment violations are serious and worth pursuing in the right case. If you're lucky enough to have a judge grant a "motion to suppress" it could very well result in dismissal of your case.

 In any event, before you assume that you've been illegally detained, arrested or searched,  have an experienced attorney give you an objective, well-informed legal opinion.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Accessibility is the Minimum One Expect from One's Lawyer

A lawyer should always be willing to answer any questions you may have regarding your case. 

However, the most common complaint made about lawyers is poor communication. It's a shame, because in my experience clients can often be very helpful in developing an effective defense. Often times critical facts not apparent in the police report can only be provided by the client.

Of course, one can't expect one's lawyer to always be available to answer every call. But messages should always be returned in a timely manner - preferably the same day. And if the matter is particularly urgent, that includes weekends. 

I make it a point that my clients have my direct line, and much to my surprise, very few clients abuse the privilege.

Feel free to contact my office for a free consultation.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Loved One Has Been Arrested - Should I Bail Him Out?

That's a tough question. It depends on a number of factors that only you and the person arrested can determine.

The cost associated with bail can be high and usually involves the services of a bail bond agent. Typically they'll charge a non-refundable 10% (or less) of the full amount of the bail and collateral for the balance (depending on the amount). There are many such agents available, but not all are equally straightforward in their business dealings, so I'd pick someone referred if at all possible.

If you have the funds to bail your loved one out, the next question is basically cost/benefit. If he/she has a good job and can't afford to lose it, it may be worthwhile bailing him/her out. But if the crime is very serious, or if he/she has a serious record, it's very possible that he/she may be facing substantial jail or even prison time. In that case, bailing someone out may simply be postponing the inevitable.

Sometimes it comes down to a choice of bailing someone out or hiring a private defense attorney. That decision comes down to how much faith one has in the public defender's office. Without being too critical of the public defender, I think it's fair to say that in most cases a private defense attorney will spend more individual time with your loved one and be much more accessible to answer questions and explain the process. Keep in mind that the "P.D." has a very large caseload and may not have the time to adequately prepare or pursue all viable alternatives.

In any event, if someone close to you has been arrested, in my experience it's important to have an private attorney come into the case at the beginning. In some instances that can make a big difference in the outcome of the case.

My office is available 24/7 for telephone consultations. Give me a call today!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Arrested for a DUI - What Do You Do Now?

Because of massive enforcement efforts on the part of all police agencies throughout the state, DUIs are among the most common offenses found in the criminal justice system. The penalties, even for a first offense, are quite substantial.

If you've been arrested, it's important to contact the DMV within ten calendar days of the violation so as to "stay" any suspension of your driving privilege. If you miss the deadline it's very unlikely they'll make an exception unless there are extraordinary reasons why you missed it.

In the event you can afford an attorney, I would recommend you find someone that handles DUIs on a regular basis. The fees can vary widely depending upon experience. There are "specialists" that handle only "drunk driving" cases, however they often are extraordinarily expensive and may not be worthwhile in the event you have no intention of going to jury trial.

On the other hand, there are lawyers who have virtually no knowledge or experience with DUIs who charge a meager fee and appear in court clueless as to what to do. I would recommend you ask the particular attorney how often and for how long he/she has handled such matters before considering retaining them.

The fact is that there's a wide variation in how much an attorney will charge for a DUI case. I would recommend against hiring any attorney based upon the lowest fee. In my experience one gets what one pays for. Keep in mind not all attorneys have equal skill, knowledge and experience.

I've handled literally thousands of DUIs for over the past 25 years. Please contact my office now if you've been arrested for a DUI.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Six Tips in Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney

I'm often asked by people how does one choose a good criminal lawyer? I've comprised a list that I think would be helpful for one to consider:

1. Does the attorney specialize in criminal defense? That is, does the lawyer have a "general practice" whereby he/she accepts a variety of different matters, from family law to personal injury, or does he/she accept only criminal-related cases. In my experience it's very difficult to be competent in more than one field of law. It's much more likely that if someone handles criminal matters exclusively they'll be more knowledgeable and experienced in that area.

--I've handled criminal matters exclusively for over 25 years.

2. How long has the attorney been practicing criminal defense? In general, one gets better the more knowledge and experience one has acquired. There's simply no substitute for experience. Someone with less than five years experience is most likely still "learning the ropes" and is not always prepared to handle a more unusual or difficult case.

--I've handled criminal matters for nearly 30 years.

3. Is the attorney familiar with the court system that's hearing your case? It's not unusual that some lawyers will appear on cases even when they're not familiar with the local court customs or personalities. I always recommend that one should consider hiring a local lawyer first before choosing someone "out-of-county."

--I have been based in the South Bay for over 25 years.

4. Will the attorney I retained personally handle my case? Often times firms with two or more lawyers will refer your matter to someone else within the office. Consequently, the lawyer actually handling your case may not be as familiar with the details as he/she should be, and he may not have the same level of expertise as the lawyer you originally retained. 

--I am a solo-practitioner and personally handle all of my cases.

5. How accessible is the attorney? The most common complaint levied against an attorney is poor communication. Many attorneys avoid personal contact with their clients, or are very poor in returning calls.

--I provide all my clients with my direct 24/7 cell phone line and if I do not pick up your call immediately I invariably return all calls within 24 hours - if not much sooner.

6. What if the attorney "guarantees" an outcome or promises a "dismissal"?  Regardless of one's level of experience or skill as an attorney, no one can guarantee an outcome. Beware of anyone making such promises.

-- The only promise I can make is that I will apply all of my nearly 30 years of legal skill, knowledge and experience when handling your case.

Feel free to contact my office today if you or someone you know has been arrested for any criminal matter.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

There's Hope if You're Arrested for Domestic Violence-Pt. 3

In most domestic violence cases the minimum punishment you will be facing is attendance at a certified anger management program - at your expense. The group meetings usually take place once a week for two hours per class, for a period of either sixteen or 52 weeks (1 year).

A competent attorney will attempt to negotiate for the shorter program, but it usually depends on the nature of the case, the extent of any injuries, one's prior record, and the personalities of both the particular judge and the deputy district attorney involved in prosecuting your case.

Feel free to contact my office today if you or someone you know has been arrested for a domestic violence related offense.

Friday, February 3, 2012

There's Hope if You're Arrested for Domestic Violence-Pt. 2

2) Domestic violence has become among the more common "first offenses" and can be personally devastating to those unfortunate to experience an arrest and prosecution for such a serious crime.

Ever since the O.J. Simpson case, most police agencies have a policy of "no discretion" if they are faced with enough evidence to reasonably believe (i.e., probable cause) that a domestic violence incident has occurred. Often times the alleged victim does not want the alleged perpetrator arrested, however if there's sufficient evidence to support the charge then an arrest is almost always made.

The good thing is, however, if it's truly a first offense and there are no serious injuries to the alleged victim, in many cases a reduction of charges and relatively lenient settlement can be reached with the district attorney. 

Of course, one always has the option of exercising one's constitutional right to a jury trial if one chooses. My office usually recommends that all options and possible outcomes be thoroughly discussed first before any decision is made regarding settlement or fighting the case at trial.

In any event, in my experience it behooves someone arrested for such charges to retain an attorney early on to maximize the chances for a optimal disposition of the case.

Part 3 of 3 next time...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

There's Hope if You're Arrested for Domestic Violence Pt. 1

In the event you are unfortunate enough to be arrested for an alleged "domestic violence"  offense, there are a few things you should know before you go to court.

1) In the event there is no protective order or restraining orders in place, and the alleged "victim" is available and willing to discuss the matter, you may want to ask that he/she appear in court with you to the arraignment.  

In most cases the court will impose a protective order against you at the arraignment which can either be a "no contact" or "peaceful contact" order. 

In the event the alleged victim does not appear to request a "peaceful contact" order, the court will be obliged to issue a "no contact" order. This can be personally devastating and require that you be separated from the victim (and even minor children) for a year or more unless it's otherwise modified. 

Part 2 of 3 will be provided in my next post. Contact my office now to arrange a free consultation or visit my website for further information. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Laws Help "DUI" Offenders Obtain Restricted License

Some recent changes in the law have given those convicted of more than one"dui"offense the opportunity to obtain restricted driving privileges sooner than ever before. In most cases it would involve the installation of an ignition interlock device at your expense.

In the event you have a "dui" matter, please contact my law office immediately for a free consultation.