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...