Answers to the most common questions regarding criminal charges:
You should call an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney as soon as you are able. You can even call an attorney from jail or the police station. Obtaining a lawyer early on can ensure that your rights are protected from the beginning of the criminal process.
You should never talk to law enforcement without an attorney present, even if you believe you are not guilty. Simply requesting an attorney during the interrogation process will halt the process and allow you to consult with someone who has your best interest in mind, without having to answer any of the investigator’s questions alone.
Many firms, including Shield Criminal Defense Law, offer affordable payment plans to help you get the defense you deserve. If you still are unable to afford a private attorney, the Los Angeles Office of the Public Defender provides legal defense services at little to no cost, dependent upon your income.
Misdemeanors are typically considered “lesser” crimes with lesser punishments. A conviction of a misdemeanor is punishable by less than one year in jail and lower fines. Felonies are more serious acts and convictions are subject to much harsher fines and incarceration.
Generally, children under the age of 18 are tried in the juvenile court system. They are assigned a juvenile probation officer who will look into factors surrounding the case such the juvenile’s criminal history, home life and severity of the crime itself. The probation officer will then decide whether the charges against the minor should be formally or informally prosecuted and recommend detention or another form of rehabilitation. In some cases, juveniles charged with particularly violent offenses can be tried as an adult in the adult justice system.
Court fines are costs that the court itself imposes as either all or part of your punishment. Court fees can be ordered in addition to jail time, or as a condition of your release. Failure to pay court fines can result in incarceration. Restitution is ordered as a repayment to the victim in the case. Although restitution is most commonly used to order re-payment in theft or embezzlement cases, it can also be ordered in cases where a victim or their property is harmed. It is not uncommon for a judge to order both court fines and restitution.
A good criminal defense lawyer can be the difference between lengthy incarceration and heavy fines to getting probation and being able to return to your home. A lawyer is your own personal advocate in the court room. While you are usually unable to speak candidly to prosecutors or see evidence against you before your court date, an attorney can speak directly to prosecutors and negotiate plea bargains on your behalf. They can poke holes in the prosecution’s case and law enforcement testimony, and ensure your civil rights are not only protected, but aggressively enforced, from start to finish of your case.