Facing Criminal Charges?
You've come to the right place. Whether you were arrested for a felony or a misdemeanor we will fight for you. Likewise, whether you are charged with a crime against a person (like assault and battery or murder), a crime against property (like shoplifting, burglary, or arson), or any other criminal offense, The Lee Law Group can help you. We provide top flight criminal defense for our clients no matter the charge. We are with you every step of the way. The Lee Law Group can assist you in any of the offenses listed under our ‘Topics’ section to the right and with any other offense for which you may be charged. We fight for you.
When to Contact an Attorney?
If you are charged with, or suspected of, a criminal offense you should contact an attorney as soon as possible, the sooner the better. There is no such thing as contacting a criminal defense lawyer too early. If you are under investigation, even if you are merely under investigation as a witness, having an experienced lawyer on your side can protect you from serious repercussions. You should always speak with a lawyer before speaking with police, investigators or any law enforcement officers.
The Process - What to Expect
The criminal process typically begins with a stop or an arrest. It could end at any point up to the time of sentencing, depending on the facts and circumstances of any particular case. You have certain rights at every stage of the criminal process. The following is a brief explanation of a traffic, or street side stop, from the point of the stop through sentencing. This is just one example of one type of contact with law enforcement officials. We at the Lee Law Group are experienced with advising clients on all types of interactions with the police. Contact the Lee Law Group if you have questions on any other type of contact with law enforcement officials where you may be suspected of a criminal offense.
You may be stopped or delayed for questioning by the police. A stop is not the same as an arrest. A stop occurs when a police officer detains you to ask you questions, but does not move you to a different location. A police officer should not stop you unless he has a good faith reasonable belief that you have violated the law. Even though you are not under arrest at this point, you do not have to answer any questions that the police officer asks you.
The police may also ask to search you or your vehicle. The police officer cannot search your car without your consent unless he has "probable cause". "Probable cause" is a legal determination that you won't be able to challenge until later. Because of this, you may want to tell the police officer that you do not consent to a search of your vehicle. The police may frisk you or "pat you down" but only if they reasonably believe you may be armed or dangerous, i.e., their safety is in jeopardy.
The police officer may perform a search anyway, but if it is later determined that there was not probable cause, at least you won't have consented to the search and your charges may be dismissed because the police violated your constitutional rights. Likewise, the police may frisk you, looking for drugs for example, even though they know you are no danger to them. If it is later determined that there was no danger to officer's safety again, your charges may be dismissed because the police violated your constitutional rights. These are just two examples of how your rights could be violated by the police. As you see, it is important to have an attorney on your side that understands all these rules. We at the Lee Law Group are well trained in protecting your constitutional rights.
If no criminal activity is found, the police officer could decide at this point that there is no reason to arrest you and your involvement in the criminal process could end here.
Each jurisdiction has different rules regarding when an individual can be placed under arrest. However, in general, there are three situations when an officer of the law can arrest you. (1) if he has probable cause to believe that you committed a felony, (2) if he witnesses you committing a misdemeanor, or (3) if there is a warrant for your arrest. When you are arrested, you will be taken into police custody.
When you are placed under arrest, and the police intend on questioning you further, they must inform you of your constitutional rights. This includes your right to remain silent and your right to obtain the advice of an attorney. These are famously called your "Miranda Rights", so called because they are mandated pursuant to a U.S. Supreme Court cases titled, Miranda v. Arizona, (384 U.S. 436, (1966)). When you are arrested, you should be given an opportunity to contact a lawyer or anyone else you want to let know what has happened to you. You are not limited to a single call. Once you are arrested, there is a limited amount of time before you must either be charged with a crime or released. If you have been held for an unreasonable amount of time without being charged, your attorney can ask a judge to order your release.
The Booking Process
After you are arrested and charged with a crime you will be booked. During this “booking process”, you will be finger printed and your name and the crime that you have been charged with will be entered into the official police record. Your personal belongings will be taken from you for safe keeping while you are in custody. They will be inventoried and you will be asked to sign the inventory sheet.
Depending on the charge and the circumstances of your case, you may be released and ordered to appear for your hearing in court. You may be released on your own recognizance, which means you recognize the arresting entity’s jurisdiction over you in reference to the charge and you promise to appear in that entity’s court to answer the charge(s) on the date specified, or you may have to put up a certain amount of bail to secure your release. Bail may be applied only to ensure you will come to court when ordered until your case is resolved. It is not to punish although bail may be denied if the court (judge) believes you are a danger to the community.
In other instances, you may remain in police custody until there is a court hearing on your release. Ordinarily, at the court hearing the judge will decide on the terms of your release or if you will be released pending your trial. Usually, a bail amount will be set unless the person arrested is a flight risk or a danger to the community.
The Prosecution Process
The prosecution process begins with an “arraignment”. At the arraignment, your charges are read to you unless you waive their reading and you will be asked to enter a plea. You can enter a plea of "not guilty", "no contest", or "guilty". If you enter a plea of no contest or of guilty, there will not be a trial. In this situation, you will either be sentenced immediately or sentenced at a later time. If you are to be sentenced at some point in the future, the judge will determine whether you should be held in custody until sentencing or whether you should be released and ordered to appear for sentencing. The length of you sentence depends on the offense. (See 'Criminal Offenses Topics A-Z on this website for sentence ranges for some of the most common offenses in California.)
If you enter a not guilty plea, you will have a trial. During the prosecution process, you will be given the opportunity to work out an agreement or a "plea bargain" with the prosecution. If you work out a plea deal, the judge will usually agree and sentence you accordingly, whether you are sentenced to some lesser jail sentence, probation or a combination of both. The weaker you case, the more likely you are to work out an acceptable plea bargain. Similarly, the better your lawyer, the more likely the prosecution is to respect their ability and agree to an advantageous plea bargain rather than chance losing to that ability, that is, within reason. When applicable, we at the Lee Law Group have worked out advantageous plea bargains for our clients.
Of course, winning at trial is better than any plea bargain, no matter how advantageous. We at the Lee Law Group are experienced in trial work.
At the end of your trial, if you are found not guilty, you will be immediately free to go and, for you, the criminal process will end at that point. If you are found guilty, you will go through the sentencing process as described above.
Having a lawyer with experience in criminal defense can make a tremendous difference to the outcome of your case. He or she can help you through every stage of the criminal case process. The Lee Law Group will provide you with experienced representation and we are with you every step of the way.