1. What is the difference between federal and state criminal charges?
Federal criminal charges are brought by the United States government and generally involve violations of federal law, such as tax evasion or drug trafficking across state lines. State criminal charges are brought by the state government and involve violations of state law, such as theft or assault. Some relevant case law and statutes include: the Federal Criminal Code (18 U.S.C.), the California Penal Code, and United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995).
2. What types of cases do you handle as a criminal defense lawyer?
I handle a wide range of criminal cases, including drug offenses, white-collar crimes, violent crimes, sex crimes, and DUIs. Some relevant case law and statutes include: People v. Sanchez, 63 Cal. App. 4th 1370 (1998), California's Three Strikes Law (Penal Code §667), and Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
3. What should I do if I am arrested?
If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. It is important to exercise these rights and contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Some relevant case law and statutes include: Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and California Penal Code §851.5.
4. What happens at an arraignment?
At an arraignment, the charges against you are read and you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Your bail may also be set at this time. Some relevant case law and statutes include: California Penal Code §977, and Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238 (1969).
5. What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
Misdemeanors are less serious crimes that are punishable by up to one year in jail, while felonies are more serious crimes that are punishable by more than one year in prison. Some relevant case law and statutes include: California Penal Code §§17, 18, and 19, and United States v. Bajakajian, 524 U.S. 321 (1998).
6. What is a plea bargain?
A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence or lesser charges. Some relevant case law and statutes include: California Penal Code §§1192.5 and 1192.7, and Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742 (1970).
7. What are my options if I am not guilty?
If you are not guilty, the burden is on the prosecutor to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Your lawyer will work to challenge the prosecutor's evidence and to show that there is not enough evidence to support a conviction. This may involve presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making legal arguments to the judge or jury. Some relevant case law and statutes include: California Evidence Code §500, and In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 (1970).
8. Can I appeal a conviction?
Yes, you can appeal a conviction if you believe that your rights were violated or that there was a mistake made in the trial process. Some relevant case law and statutes include: California Penal Code §1237, and United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005).
9. What happens if I violate my probation?
If you violate your probation, you may be sent back to jail or prison to serve the remainder of your sentence. Some relevant case law and statutes include: California Penal Code §§1203.2 and 1203.3, and Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471 (1972).
10. What is the difference between probation and parole?
Probation is a period of supervision that is given as an alternative to jail time, while parole is a period of supervision that is given after a person is released from prison. Some relevant case law and statutes include: California Penal Code §§1203 and 3056, and Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471 (1972).
11. What should I do if I am facing federal charges?
If you are facing federal charges, it is important to contact a criminal defense lawyer who has experience handling federal cases. Federal cases are often more complex than state cases and require a specialized skill set. Some relevant case law and statutes include: the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005).
12. What is a grand jury?
A grand jury is a group of citizens who are convened to decide whether there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges against a person. Some relevant case law and statutes include: California Penal Code §§917-924, and United States v. Williams,
13. What is the difference between a public defender and a private criminal defense lawyer?
A public defender is a lawyer who is appointed to represent a defendant who cannot afford to hire their own lawyer. Private criminal defense lawyers are hired by the defendant and are paid directly by the defendant or through insurance.
14. How long does a criminal trial take?
The length of a criminal trial varies depending on the complexity of the case and the number of witnesses and evidence presented. Some trials can be completed in a day, while others may take several weeks or months.
15. What happens if I am found guilty?
If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced by the judge. The sentence may include fines, probation, community service, or jail time.
16. What is a preliminary hearing?
A preliminary hearing is a court hearing in which the prosecution presents evidence to show that there is enough probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime they are charged with.
17. What is a sentencing hearing?
A sentencing hearing is a court hearing in which the judge decides the sentence for a defendant who has been found guilty. The judge may consider factors such as the severity of the crime, the defendant's criminal history, and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
18. What is an expungement?
An expungement is a legal process in which a criminal conviction is removed from a person's record. This can make it easier for the person to find employment or housing.
19. What is a bail hearing?
A bail hearing is a court hearing in which the judge decides whether to release the defendant on bail while they await trial. The judge may consider factors such as the defendant's criminal history, the severity of the crime, and the risk of flight.
20. What is the difference between a bench trial and a jury trial?
In a bench trial, the judge decides the verdict, while in a jury trial, a group of citizens decides the verdict. Both types of trials have their advantages and disadvantages, and the decision to have a bench trial or a jury trial is made by the defendant in consultation with their lawyer.
21. What is the difference between a criminal case and a civil case?
A criminal case involves charges brought by the government against a defendant for a violation of criminal law, while a civil case involves a dispute between two parties, such as a contract dispute or a personal injury lawsuit.
22. Can I still be convicted if there is no physical evidence against me?
Yes, a conviction can be based on circumstantial evidence, witness testimony, or other types of evidence.
23. What is a plea of no contest?
A plea of no contest is a type of plea in which the defendant does not admit guilt but agrees to be sentenced as if they had been found guilty. This type of plea is often used in cases where there is a high likelihood of a conviction, and the defendant wants to avoid the risk of a harsher sentence.
24. Can I represent myself in a criminal case?
Yes, you have the right to represent yourself in a criminal case, but it is not recommended. Criminal cases are complex and require a thorough knowledge of the law and legal procedures.
25. What is the difference between a direct appeal and a collateral attack?
A direct appeal is an appeal of the trial court's decision, while a collateral attack is a separate legal proceeding in which the defendant challenges the conviction on the grounds of a constitutional violation, such as ineffective assistance of counsel.
26. Can I be charged with a crime if I was acting in self-defense?
It is possible to be charged with a crime even if you were acting in self-defense, but the defense of self-defense can be used to argue that your actions were justified. The success of this defense depends on the specific circumstances of the case.