When the stakes are high and you're facing criminal charges, you need aggressive Santa Clarita Criminal Defense Lawyers with experience, who are available to take your case quickly and confidently and who will go the extra mile to thoroughly investigate your case. The firm of Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin specializes in all Criminal & DUI Defense cases.
1. What happens after someone is arrested?
The police officers involved write reports about the crime, obtain witness statements, run a background check of the suspect, and do further investigation as needed before submitting their work to an investigating detective. Often, this is they most propitious time for a Santa Clarita Criminal Defense Lawyer to make a dramatic impact in a Pre-Filing Intervention, as the police usually know very little about the person arrested. The police then bring their written investigation to the District Attorney's Office. A prosecutor reviews the documents to determine whether criminal charges - a misdemeanor or a felony - are warranted. The prosecutor has the option of rejecting the case for criminal prosecution, filing a misdemeanor, or filing a felony charge.
2. How does bail work?
Bail is financial assurance that a defendant will return to court after being released from custody. There are two ways to post bail.
First, "cash" bail may be posted with the custodial agency to cover the entire amount of the bail. At the end of the case, if bail is exonerated, the defendant will receive a check for the entire amount posted (takes about 8-10 weeks).
Second, a "bond" through a bail company may be posted. A defendant pays about 10% of the entire amount to a bail company, which puts up the entire bail amount through a bond. The premium payment is not returned to the defendant after the case ends.
3. If the complaining witness wants to "drop all charges," will the case be dismissed?
Not necessarily. There are many reasons why the alleged victim or reporting party may have a change of heart. It may be that the report of crime (violence, theft, or other violation) may have been false or inaccurate. It may also be that the person is scared to proceed with a prosecution. The police and the prosecutor's office are aware of all the reasons, and do not just "drop charges" especially in domestic violence cases. They attempt to re-interview the reporting party to understand the reason behind the change of heart.
4. What happens at the first court hearing after charges are filed? What is an arraignment?
Arraignment is the initial court proceeding where a defendant is advised of his charges, and usually enters a “Not Guilty” plea. This proceeding is not a trial, and witnesses do not come forward to testify. It provides defense counsel an opportunity to obtain the police reports, the criminal complaint, and set a preliminary hearing date.
5. In a DUI case, what is the first thing to do?
Your license will be suspended unless you request a DMV hearing 10 days after your arrest. You or your attorney must call and request a hearing immediately. Even if you have the DUI dismissed in court, the DMV will still suspend your license if you fail to set a hearing date.
6. If I was arrested for a felony, does that mean I will face felony charges in court?
A prosecutor makes an independent decision on what charges to file, irrespective of what the arrest was for. In most domestic violence cases, the Los Angeles Police Department arrests people for felony charges carrying $50,000 bail. After many of these arrests, prosecutors file misdemeanor offenses, rather than felonies, especially after an immediate pre-filing intervention by our law firm.
7. What if I feel that the police violated my constitutional rights?
A criminal defense attorney seeks to exclude evidence obtained as a result of police misconduct. At times, police misconduct occurs in searches that take place during ordinary traffic stops or in a suspect's home. Additionally, if law enforcement is too aggressive in trying to obtain an incriminating statement from a suspect, it may violate the suspect's Miranda rights. Litigation in the criminal court allows a defense lawyer to protect his client's rights by submitting motions to the judge seeking to exclude the recovered evidence or received statements from trial. Often a successful motion to suppress evidence cripples the prosecutor's case, causing the case to either be dismissed or substantially reduced in plea negotiations.
8. Do you present evidence of mitigation in a courtroom on behalf of clients?
The criminal court system in Santa Clarita, California deals with thousands of cases. How do criminal defense lawyers humanize a client to busy criminal courts? While this is not the easiest task to accomplish in the Southern California justice system, our criminal defense lawyers work to humanize all of our clients to mitigate a possible sentence. Persuading Los Angeles prosecutors, probation officers and judges to recognize that a client’s life cannot be defined based solely on the conduct that brought him/her into court takes patience and tenacity. Our lawyers work to explain that few persons are accurately defined by the worst thing they ever did. Unfortunately, unless we intervene to demonstrate the contrary, the default of the justice system is to assume that this crime resonates to our client’s behavior in daily life.
9. Accusation of Hit & Run: Should you call the police yourself in response to a letter you received about an accident you were in?
The criminal offense commonly known as Hit and Run is a violation of the Vehicle Code, which requires all drivers involved in a car accident to stop and exchange information. If there are injuries, the offense may be prosecuted as a felony, as the law considers leaving the scene of an accident without rendering aid to an injured party as felonious conduct (which carries a maximum of a year in the county jail or three years in prison). Often, LASD or other investigating agencies will send a letter to the driver that left the scene of the accident, or the vehicle’s owner, asking them to contact a detective. This is when a lawyer could be of great help. By speaking to the police without an attorney, you may be incriminating yourself.
10. Drug Addiction – How is this issue addressed within the court system, and within your criminal defense practice?
The obvious and sad reality is that addiction often leads to criminal behavior including theft, drug sales, DUI, and other more serious criminal violations. There are numerous drug programs in Southern California, in-patient and out-patient, available to treat drug and alcohol addiction. Often we have used these programs as an alternative to jail or prison for clients in custody as part of the Alternative Sentencing scheme. Under California criminal law, a defendant will avoid jail or prison upon successful completion of a drug rehabilitation programs such as Deferred Entry of Judgment, Proposition 36, and Drug Diversion. While keeping clients out of jail is the firm’s main objective, we are also concerned about recidivism. We want to prevent clients from relapsing and being rearrested. Accordingly, we counsel clients to take their rehabilitation seriously. We encourage them to commit to change with a sponsor or the 12-step lifestyle, and also encourage seeing a therapist on a regular basis.