If you were charged with a crime, you understandably feel a significant amount of stress and anxiety about the process you face. When you first contact my office, common questions asked include: How much will this cost? How long will the process take? Will I go to jail? Will I have a criminal record? Will a conviction affect my job or driver's license? What are my options?
To answer some of these initial questions, I offer a free initial consultation in the privacy of my office.
Here is what to expect from me:
Get me up to speed and lets move quickly. I will ask you to explain to me what happened and I will listen with genuine concern for your best interests. I will review the statutes with you and you're criminal record and then I will ask the most important question that will set the tone for the rest of your case, "what is most important to you?" What is the objective of legal representation? Is it to avoid jail? Do you want to keep this crime off your record? Is it to keep your driver's license?
Your answers to these questions will set the tone for how we make decisions together for the duration of your case. No person is the same, nor is their case. Lets work together to do what is best for you.
Understanding a your objective is essential. Once I understand the your objective, I can explain your options and more accurately quote my services. This process is beneficial to both of us because you are now truly informed and there is consensus and our plan of action. Once we are in agreement on the plan, we will formalize it in writing and get to work.
Where do we get started?
The Arraignment Hearing
Most people normally retain my services before their Arraignment Hearing. At arraignment, you will be formally charged with the crime. Its just part of the process. A plea of "Not Guilty" is entered and the court addresses "Conditions of Release." The judge orders you (the defendant) to either engage or refrain from certain behavior while the pre-trial process plays out.
In DUI cases, for example, the judge will order the defendant to refrain from drinking alcohol or using non-prescribed medication until the case is resolved. Judges can order defendants to jail and/or set Bail. This is the amount of money a defendant must post to get out of jail during the pre-trial process. At the end of the Arraignment Hearing, the Court Clerk will set another Pre-Trial Hearing, sometimes called Pre-Trial Conference, Case Setting Hearings or Omnibus Hearings. These hearings are usually spaced about a month apart. It is common to have multiple pre-trial hearings.
The Pre-Trial Hearing
The purpose of the Pre-Trial Hearing is to communicate to the court how the defendant's case will procede in the future. Generally, most defendants (like yourself) are either entering a deal or telling the court they want to go to trial. If you are not able to answer that question, they may continue the hearing by scheduling a new Pre-Trial hearing approximately 4 weeks out. The court may ask you to waive your Speedy Trial Right in return. Everyone has the right to a speedy trial within 60 days of arraignment if you had been in custody, and 90 days of arraignment, if out of custody. Waiving that right simply means the 60 or 90 day time period starts anew.
Prior to resolving a case or setting it to trial, I will formally request the police reports and any and all evidence the prosecution intends to rely upon to prosecute you. You and I will meet again in my office and review the law and the police reports. If an offer has been made by the prosecutor, we review it as well. In every case, my main priority is to make sure my clients are completely informed of their options. I advise my clients, but I do not steer them in any particular direction. Clients always make their own decisions.
Optional Motions Hearings
Some cases are set to a motions hearing. These are hearings where defense counsel makes a legal argument to suppress evidence. Witnesses are usually summoned and testimony is presented tot he judge. These hearings usually require legal research and written briefs filed in advance with the court. Not all of my clients have this option. A legal issue must be present to make the argument to suppress in each individual case.
Cases that are set to trial require a readiness hearing (a.k.a. Jury Call Hearing). The purpose of this hearing is simple and adminstrative in nature. The court wants to know if both sides are ready to go to trial.
Very few cases actually go all the way to jury trial. Some jury trials can be tried in a day. Most require at least two days. Depending on factors such as complexity and amount of evidence, some can take weeks. Because so few cases actually go to jury trial, I do not charge my clients for trial until the readiness hearing outcome. Unfortunately, MANY attorney's will charge you for trial hours regardless of your case going to trial or not. That is the moment we know for sure the case is actually going to trial. Until then, I do not pre-charge my clients for trial because no one wants to pay for a service that is not needed.
When a case is resolved and if you are placed on probation, I can remain your attorney. Probation can either be Active or Non-Active.
Active probation means you have affirmative conditions to meet, like alcohol or drug counseling. You will be required to meet with a probation officer who monitors whether you are in compliance.
Non-Active probation means the defendant does not meet with a Probation Officer. In either case, if the Court believes the defendant is in violation of their sentence or diversion program, then it will set a Review Hearing to address the allegation. Defendants normally spend anywhere between one to five years on probation.
The legal process can be a long, emotional rollercoaster ride for you. It's pretty much assured that you will have many questions. I have spent my entire legal career answering those questions. I am a career criminal defense attorney who has practiced for decades and knows the system. I will offer offer tenacious advocacy for you.