An arrest for any crime is usually worrying regardless of the severity of the crime. You will be frightened about going to jail, losing your job, damaging your reputation, and spending time away from your family. Additionally, you will have many questions and few answers regarding California laws and your rights. At Orange County Criminal Defense Team, we can help you or a loved one defend against the criminal charges and answer all questions you might have regarding your case. Discussed below are some of the frequently asked questions about criminal defense.

Yes. There are instances when police can apprehend you without a warrant. A search warrant is a court-issued order, giving law enforcement the right to access your property and seize any items listed in the warrant. The U.S. 4th amendment protects citizens from illegal search and seizure. Therefore, when police determine that you have committed a crime, they can request a warrant from the court to search your house.

California has different forms of a warrant, with the most common being a bench warrant issued when a defendant skips town on the day of a scheduled hearing.

Similarly, the court issues an arrest warrant if the prosecuting team shows reasonable suspicion that you engaged in the commission of a crime. Also, the warrant is issued if there is reason to believe you pose a danger to the community and general public or have skipped court and the chances of showing up are slim.

A search warrant is issued if they have reasonable suspicion you have violated the law. California has particular requirements that must be met before issuing a warrant. Further, three rules must be followed when executing a search warrant because if it doesn’t adhere to the law, all the evidence obtained during the search is removed from the case, further weakening the prosecution’s case.

However, there are times when arrests or searches can be executed without a warrant. For example, an arrest warrant won’t be necessary if law enforcement finds you in the process of committing a crime, and when they have reasonable suspicion, you engaged in crime even if not in their presence.

Besides, police can search your property without a warrant under the following circumstances:

  • If you willingly permit law enforcement to search your property
  • During an arrest, the police can search for an item in your immediate person and surrounding areas.
  • When an object is in plain view of the police, and there is reason to believe the object is linked to a crime, they can seize it.
  • Inspection happening at sobriety checkpoints, airport security, or health inspection.
  • If there is an immediate incident where there is a possibility of evidence being misplaced, destroyed, or an unfolding crime, law enforcement agencies can exercise their power to search without a court order.
  • If there is no expectation of privacy where the search will happen

If you were arrested or searched without a warrant in the absence of these exceptions, all the evidence acquired is not admissible in court. However, you will need to work closely with an attorney to prove that the officers had no warrant or had an invalid one.

California has two classes or categories of crime which are felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are minor offenses whose sentencing results in jail incarceration for less than twelve months. However, based on the facts of the case and your criminal history, the court might impose a fine not exceeding $1,000 for a misdemeanor sentence. Examples of misdemeanor crimes include petty theft, public intoxication, DUI causing injury, prostitution, and violation of a protective order.

On the other hand, the felony class deals with more severe offenses whose conviction attracts a sentence of over one year in jail and court fines amounting to $10,000. Felony crimes include the sale of controlled substances, rape, homicide, vehicular manslaughter, and lewd act with a minor. 

Sometimes the penalty for a felony is dictated in the California statutes, although the circumstances of the case and your criminal record might impact the sentence.

Instead of spending time behind bars, your attorney might convince the judge to impose formal or felony probation. For a misdemeanor, the court can impose informal probation in place of serving a jail sentence.

Another class of crime in Orange County is a wobbler offense where the prosecutor has the discretion to charge you with either a misdemeanor or felony. The prosecutor’s decision is dependent on the nature of the case and your criminal record. Crimes charged as wobblers include grand theft, assault with a deadly weapon, elderly abuse, and brandishing a gun.

As mentioned earlier, the attorney you hire for your case is the difference between winning and losing. Therefore, you must take your time to pick the right defense attorney by conducting research. Then, choose an attorney who is in court daily representing cases like yours and someone who will dedicate their time and resources to ensure you avoid the consequences of a conviction.

A plea deal or bargain is an agreement between you and the prosecutor to enter a no contest or guilty plea, be charged with a lesser offense, or face a more lenient sentence. The prosecuting team offers these deals to resolve cases faster. So, even if you feel that you are innocent, the long delays in the justice system that delays matters for months or years can increase costs, derail your life and increase stress, forcing you to resolve the issue quicker through a plea bargain.

Because none of the opposing teams is guaranteed a positive outcome when the case goes to trial, many defendants are forced to take plea deals to obtain fewer sentences or penalties.

If the court has denied you bail release or you can’t afford the bail amount, you might be forced to stay in jail even for years until the case is determined. When in a situation like that, the easiest solution is accepting the plea deal offered by the prosecution instead of waiting for trial. Even though the plea deal might involve spending time in jail, the period of incarceration will be shorter than when the court finds you guilty in a trial.

Besides, a plea deal involves reducing a felony to a misdemeanor charge. This will be very useful because you will avoid the consequences of a felony sentence, like being unable to possess a firearm or obtain a professional license.

Prosecutors are concerned more about closing cases, and due to stretched schedules, they might be more inclined to offer a plea deal or accept one from an attorney. Whatever the case, if you are offered a plea deal, you should consult with your attorney first to determine if it’s favorable. The first deal on the table is not usually the best. Your decision should be based on thorough deliberation and legal counsel. An experienced attorney should check the agreement on the offing and advise you to take the deal or not based on the circumstances of the case.

If they realize the prosecutor has a weak case, the attorney will not accept a plea deal unless it’s on their terms. And because the prosecutor is afraid that if the case proceeds to trial, they will lose, then they will accept the terms of the deal proposed by your attorney to earn a conviction.

Apart from the facts of the case, the negotiation skills of your attorney play a critical role in plea bargaining and might be the difference between a favorable and unfavorable deal. Therefore, whenever you are hiring, find someone who local prosecutors and judges respect because this will be pivotal in the negotiations.

In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark ruling on a case known as Miranda Vs. Arizona. The court held that when a police officer wants to question someone in their custody, they must let the arrestee know their fifth amendment rights to avoid saying anything that is self-incriminating and have their rights protected by an attorney.

The police must read your Miranda rights before they question you while in custody. These rights include:

  • The right to maintain silence
  • The warning that any statement you make can and will be used against you in court
  • The right to have legal representation at the time of interrogations
  • The right to a public defender if you cannot afford a private one

With the knowledge of these rights, you can choose to stay silent and request an attorney after an arrest.

Police officers are required to advise you on your full Miranda rights during custodial interrogation and not necessarily at the time of the arrest. The interrogation happens after an arrest or during questioning, and it’s commonly referred to as adversarial interrogation.

Note that there are cases when the officer will not recite these rights when booking you in custody or awaiting presentation in jail. An arrest or detention in police custody doesn’t guarantee reading of Miranda rights. You will be advised of these rights only during interrogation, and if they are not recited, any statements made during the questioning will be thrown out from the evidence presented.

However, because you have a right to remain silent, it doesn’t mean you won’t provide identification information and answer basic questions. You must identify yourself and answer a few basic questions. Apart from these, you should remain silent because you might say something self-incriminating whether you are aware of your rights or not.

When officers conduct an interrogation without first reading the Miranda warning, your confession or statement is considered involuntary and, therefore, cannot be used against you in court. And if there is reason to suspect your Miranda rights have been violated, you should talk to your criminal defense attorney about it because this could be a basis of having the case dismissed for lack of evidence.

In Orange County, you are likely to end up with an arrest if:

  • Law enforcement officers observe you in the act of commissioning a crime.
  • You are on the police radar, and they have probable cause to believe you engaged in the commission of a crime.
  • The court has issued a bench or arrest warrant.

The law is unambiguous on the steps followed after an arrest, including exercising your Fifth Amendment rights. Even if you are convinced of your innocence, the biggest mistake you can make is to talk to the police in the absence of your legal representative. However, when you refuse to speak, the officers cannot implicate you for the alleged crime because of refusing to talk.

Your statements might be used to charge and sentence you in court. Therefore, if you are not sure of the impact of the account you want to make, you should consult with an experienced attorney right away or ask someone to do it on your behalf. At Orange County Criminal Defense Team, we stress that the best way to approach a case during and after an arrest is:

  • To answer basic questions
  • Provide identifying information
  • Simply tell the law enforcement that you wish to remain silent and not answer any questions until you have an attorney present.

If you’re sentenced for a crime in California, the punishment varies depending on the type of crime you are accused of committing, criminal record, and aggravating and mitigating circumstances. As mentioned earlier, California crimes fall under various categories, which include infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. The penalties are not based on the classes but the individual circumstances surrounding the case.

When faced with criminal charges, our team of experienced attorneys at the Orange County Criminal Defense Team are ready to explain the possible consequences or penalties based on the facts of the case and the type of charge.

For an infraction like possession of a small quantity of marijuana, or a traffic ticket, there is no jail time involved. Instead, you are only required to pay a particular amount of fine. As a result, the court fines for this type of crime are often tiny, and you usually don’t end up with a criminal record.

On the other hand, the penalties for a misdemeanor are more severe than those of an infraction, although they are less severe when compared to those of a felony. The punishment for misdemeanor conviction includes summary probation, court fines no more than $1,000, and incarceration in a county jail for a maximum of twelve months.

Lastly, felony penalties are more extreme because of the severity of the offenses in question. The minimum sentence a judge will impose for a felony conviction is three years in a state prison or court fines as much as $10,000.

Note that there is a class of crimes known as wobblers, often filed as misdemeanors or felonies based. The final say on whether you will face felony or misdemeanor charges lies with the judge. However, factors like the case’s facts and your criminal history can influence the court’s decision. The punishment for a wobbler decision depends on the preferred charge by the prosecutor. Whether you’re sentenced for a misdemeanor or felony, the penalties will be as indicated above but will vary based on the nature of the case.

An arraignment hearing is the first court appearance after an arrest. In the proceeding, the judge informs you of your charges and asks you to enter a plea. Your criminal attorney is provided with a copy of the formal complaint and the police report at this proceeding. It is also at this stage that most bail issues are brought up. Your attorney can appear in this proceeding on your behalf if you are charged with a misdemeanor unless the case in question is a domestic violence one, DUI, or the court has asked you to show up.

If you enter a not guilty plea, the court will schedule a court hearing at a future date. Misdemeanor charges require the judge to schedule a pretrial hearing. On the other hand, after felony charges have been read, the case proceeds to the preliminary hearing, and sometimes it might even go to early sentencing and be resolved.

For felonies, there are two separate arraignment proceedings. One occurs after the filing of charges, and the other happens in the preliminary hearing.

The law is clear that an arrestee shouldn’t be held in custody for more than 48 hours without being arraigned in court unless it’s on a public holiday or weekend. The arresting officer might release you after booking and issue a citation requiring you to appear in court at a scheduled date. Alternatively, you could be released on bail on the condition that you won’t skip court.

As per PC 977(a), your defense attorney can appear for arraignment on your behalf if you have been charged with a misdemeanor. However, for a felony charge, the court requires that you show in person for the arraignment proceeding.

At this stage, the prosecutor can request bail or own recognizance conditions to be set after your release pending trial. They do this when they want to file additional charges and want the court to set a higher bail amount than the one you have already paid.

Bail is the amount of money you post to secure your release from custody while awaiting trial. The court requires you to make this financial commitment as an assurance that you won’t miss future court dates.

Alternatively, the court might release you on your own recognizance where you promise to appear in court as scheduled without posting bail. Although the court grants bail most of the time, you might be denied bail under certain circumstances.

The bail amount is usually significant, and most defendants are unable to raise the money. As a result, they are forced to turn to bail bond companies that pay the money on their behalf. For a bail bonds agency to post your bail, you must pay a non-refundable fee of between 10 to 20% of the bail amount, often known as a premium.

The amount of bail depends on the crime in question and the county where you are being charged. Orange County has a bail schedule that lists various crimes and the bail amount paid under each category. The arresting officer is the person that sets the bail amount using the amount provided in the schedule, and the law allows these officers to set the amount even higher than what is provided in the list schedule. However, the final decision is with the judge.

If the amount is set too high, your attorney can request the judge to make adjustments or release you on O.R. Most arrestees in Orange County are released on O.R., and only those who have been arrested for severe offenses might be required to post bail. The court will flee you on O.R if they are convinced you are not a flight risk to the general public and that you will appear in court as scheduled.

California’s Three Strikes Law is outlined under PC 667 as a sentencing scheme that enhances a defendant's prison sentence to 25 years or life imprisonment if convicted of a violent crime three times or a severe offense.

The law categorizes you as a third striker if you have two prior violent crime convictions and a recent violent crime or a serious felony charge. If the two circumstances apply to your case, then you will face the sentence mentioned above.

Keep in mind that there are few instances where you can be charged as a third striker and face 25 years to life incarceration when your current or third offense is not a violent or severe felony. These circumstances are:

  • The third crime is a drug offense involving a particular amount of controlled substance.
  • The 3rd offense is a felony sex offense or one that requires sex offender registration.
  • You were armed with a firearm or deadly weapon during the commission of the 3rd crime.
  • You planned on causing significant physical harm to the victim during the third offense.
  • One of your strike records is classified as a severe offense.

If you have one strike prior and add another on your record, you are referred to as a second striker, meaning you will receive double the standard sentence dictated by the law.

Note that if the court believes you should not be treated as a striker, they might throw out your prior strikes for the interest of justice, or if they think proving them will be challenging. Your criminal attorney can ask the court to dismiss Romero motion. When deciding, the court considers when the strike took place, the facts of your current case, and your criminal history.

Also, if the court adds a strike on your record and you are not happy with the decision, you can speak to an appellate attorney to challenge the court’s decision.

At Orange County Criminal Defense Team, we have successfully defended individuals charged with various offenses. Some of the cases we deal with include:

  1. DUI Cases

We have a team of DUI defense attorneys who are former prosecutors and police officers with years of experience prosecuting and contesting DUI charges in Orange County. Our attorneys will also defend your rights in the DMV hearing to ensure you retain your driver’s license.

The ordinary drunk driving charges our attorneys deal with include:

  • First DUI offense
  • Driving under the influence of drugs
  • DUI with injury
  • Hit and run
  • Reckless driving
  • Underage DUI
  • Gross vehicular manslaughter

Therefore, if you have been charged with a DUI, you should not hesitate to contact us because we have what it takes to protect your driver's license, freedom, and reputation.

  1. Violent Crimes

Orange County law enforcement authorities take violent crimes seriously, and the mandatory sentencing statutes often lead to life-changing consequences.

However, many people accused of committing violent crimes are innocent. You might have committed the crime by accident, acted in self-defense, falsely accused, or misidentified, leading these charges. Our team of legal professionals is ready to explore various defense strategies and mount them to ensure a favorable outcome. The common violent crimes we defend against include carjacking, assault, arson, homicide, kidnapping, and robbery.

  1. Sex Crimes

Sex offenses often carry harsh penalties when convicted. These penalties include registering as a sex offender, prison incarceration, and ostracizing from the local community. These severe penalties are meant to punish and discourage people from engaging in sex crimes. However, innocent people face false accusations for sex crimes like date rape or sexual assault, so you need to have an attorney to prove the allegations are false or you are being flamed.

Our attorneys will begin by examining the prosecutor’s evidence and conduct independent investigations to find defense strategies that can be used to contest the charges. With our legal experts by your side, the charges are likely to be reduced or thrown out.

The typical sex crimes we defend against include soliciting prostitution, child pornography, lewd act with a minor, lewd act in public, rape, indecent exposure, statutory rape, and not registering as a sex offender.

  1. Financial Crimes

Criminal convictions for financial crimes are usually associated with a lot of social stigmas. And because some of the time, individuals charged with these crimes are law-abiding citizens with no criminal record, we strive to protect the rights of these individuals and prevent a criminal record. The common financial crimes we handle include petty theft, grand theft, identity theft, embezzlement, and obtaining stolen goods.

  1. Domestic Violence Crimes

Domestic violence crimes are rising, especially during the pandemic when families struggle financially due to job losses and failing businesses, thus causing disagreements. Unfortunately, the majority of individuals charged with domestic abuse are falsely accused. Most victims fabricate stories due to anger, jealousy, or revenge. Others make false accusations to obtain favorable verdicts in child custody or divorce proceedings.

Whatever the case, we are available to defend you against domestic violence crimes like domestic battery, corporal injury on a spouse, child endangerment, stalking, and false imprisonment.

  1. Drug Crimes

The significant challenges law enforcement officers face when building evidence for drug crimes include:

  • Unreliable confidential informants
  • Unlawful techniques of busting drugs like entrapment

If apprehended for a crime after officers raided your house and conducted a search without a warrant, our attorneys would challenge the illegal search. Any evidence obtained from the process will be eliminated from the case.

If your crime is drug possession and dealing with an addiction, we will take advantage of Prop 36 to obtain a pretrial diversion or have you placed in a treatment program instead of serving jail time.

The court proceedings for criminal cases are very complex, so you don’t wish to represent yourself in these cases without sound legal counsel unless you practice criminal law yourself. Further, DAs have adequate resources at their disposal to build a strong case against you. If these legal professionals gather strong evidence demonstrating that you committed a particular crime, then only an experienced and profound attorney can help you poke holes in the evidence to contest the charges. Your attorney will negotiate with the police, judge, or prosecutor on your behalf, evaluate the evidence presented, develop effective legal defenses and mount them appropriately to fight the charges.

Not everyone convicted of a crime is guilty. Unfortunately, even innocent people end up behind bars because no one is available to protect their rights. You don’t want to jeopardize your future because of a small legal fee, so you should hire an attorney for your case even when you feel innocent. These legal professionals will ensure your rights are protected, and the case is determined on merit and with no biases. That way, you can avoid the penalties and court fines associated with criminal convictions.

Find the Right Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

The services of a criminal defense attorney are crucial. If you have been charged with a crime and have questions regarding your criminal case, don’t hesitate to call Orange County Criminal Defense Team at 714-467-2772 to discuss the questions in person.


Find an Orange County Defense Lawyer Near Me

If you’ve been accused of any crime in Orange County, your future is at stake. However, you can avoid the penalties that come with your charges when you have a qualified lawyer by your side. At the Orange County Criminal Defense Team, we will fight aggressively and tirelessly to protect your rights, thanks to our many years of experience.

We’ve represented clients facing a wide variety of criminal charges, both misdemeanors and felonies. Regardless of your situation, our lawyers are available to protect your freedom and future. We have experienced, devoted lawyers passionate about defending our clients’ rights and are available 24/7. Call us now at 714-467-2772 to schedule your initial consultation.

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