The California Criminal Procedure
California has one of the most intricate criminal procedure processes in the nation. It initially begins when someone is arrested and from that point, it can feel overwhelming and out of control for those whose lives are affected by the arrest. Orange County & Riverside, CA criminal defense attorneys at Fakhimi & Associates have guided clients through that overwhelming process for decades. It begins when one is arrested and ends only when the case has been resolved. No two cases are ever the same just as no two strategies for defending our clients are the same.
Note: The information provided below is for general information purposes only. In no way should it be seen as legal advice. Contact the Southern California criminal law firm of Fakhimi & Associates to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.
I’ve Been Arrested, What Happens Now?
California’s rules of procedure serve as a blueprint that the entire legal system must follow. After you’ve been arrested, the state has two days, excluding holidays and weekends, to schedule your arraignment. It’s at this stage your criminal lawyer will appear with you in a courtroom to enter a plea. The prosecutor will provide the court with the charges you’re facing and at that point, your plea is officially recorded and either a preliminary or pre-trial hearing is set.
Many of our clients are charged with crimes in Orange County, Riverside, and surrounding areas, but regardless of where one is arrested or even where the crime occurred, California’s laws are clear: only the state of California can bring criminal charges against anyone. In other words, there are specific guidelines and processes that must evolve in your case if the district attorney hopes to win and he can only win if he remains in compliance with those laws and statutes.
What’s the Difference Between a Pretrial and Preliminary Hearing?
You may hear a lot of legal jargon being tossed around in the days after your arrest. It can be confusing, especially when it seems as though much of the information and processes are redundant. Our legal system is actually quite streamlined; especially when compared to other countries and considering the many rights one has when facing criminal or civil charges. Two of the most often confused processes are the preliminary hearing and the pretrial hearing. They’re not interchangeable, as a pretrial hearing is applicable to misdemeanor charges while a preliminary hearing is reserved for those who have been charged with a felony.
Pretrial offers the parties an opportunity to resolve the matter without resorting to a more formal and expensive hearing. This is why it’s so important to choose an experienced criminal procedure lawyer in Orange County, Riverside, and surrounding areas. There are times when the hearings evolve rather quickly and then there are those cases where it seems as though Lady Justice is taking her time.
What is Plea Bargaining in the Criminal Procedure Process?
That’s one reason why a California prosecutor may ask to meet with the defendant and his attorney. Its goal is to work out an acceptable deal that will prevent an extended and costly trial. This process that includes both sides compromising in an effort of avoiding a trial is known as plea bargaining. These criminal pleas are made with the defendant entering a guilty plea in exchange for a conviction on a lesser offense. Our legal team at Fakhimi & Associates aggressively negotiate any deals offered by the state of California. Our dedicated attorneys ensure their clients understand every detail associated with any offer as well as possible outcomes should they go to trial. If no deal is reached, rest assured our aggressive defense attorneys will litigate on your behalf in the courtroom.
Another process is known as the preliminary hearing. These are scheduled “on the docket” or “on the calendar” in order to discern whether or not the state has enough evidence to justify a full criminal trial. California criminal code provides for a more lenient requirement when it comes to sufficient evidence. The best Orange County criminal lawyers understand the benefits of these proceedings. It allows the attorney to “calcify” the prosecution’s case by. Examples include leading key witnesses to make statements of fact that can’t be later rescinded or compelling the prosecution to commit to a certain line of argumentation.
What are Pre-Trial Motions in California Criminal Cases?
The California justice system allows defendants to file what are known as pretrial motions. Their purpose is to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence as inadmissible or otherwise collected unconstitutionally/illegally as part of the criminal procedure. Defendants can also employ these motions in an effort of learning more about the prosecution’s case so that they can better prepare as they move closer to a trial. Our firm invests both time and resources to give our clients the best possible pre-trial defenses and with the most options. We also incorporate deep strategic and tactical knowledge regarding all criminal pre-trial motions and filings.
As our client, our Orange County felony criminal defense attorneys will explain in detail what these processes mean to your case.
What is Expungement in Criminal Procedure?
This process can help you move forward with fewer worries about a past coming back to haunt you as you seek employment, housing, and even your buying power. It’s not always an option, but for those who are able to clear or partially clear their arrest and convictions in California, they enjoy better opportunities in their future.
There are always exceptions, so it’s important to understand potential obstacles and possible outcomes with your criminal procedure attorney.
Finally, keep in mind a few more details:
- From the time that you file for expungement until your record clears, expect at minimum a two to four-week delay. To speed up the process, be proactive and educate yourself. The better you understand your case and your rights, the faster you’ll be able to process your application.
- Felonies typically require more time to resolve than a misdemeanor. It could take a few months.
- If your request for expungement is denied, California allows for convicted felons to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. You may be able to “negotiate it down” so it appears as a misdemeanor charge.
How much will an expungement cost?
Including court fees and other sundry costs, the expungement of a misdemeanor typically runs around $1,250.00; whereas the expungement of a felony typically costs double that, $2,500.00. Our legal advocates can provide assistance with these types of filings. Contact our offices to learn more.
Of course, this is a brief legal overview and in no way encompasses every aspect of California’s criminal statutes. Our team stands ready to help and guide you through an overwhelming and sometimes frightening process. Being charged with a crime is serious and can feel as though your entire life is on the line. Choose wisely who will represent you in a court of law. This is one decision no one can afford to get wrong.
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