How is bail determined?

When you are arrested and booked into jail you may wonder how is bail determined. Bail amounts are determined according the Superior Court of California County of San Diego Bail Schedule. This is a 135-page document that sets bail amounts for all infraction, misdemeanor and felony charges in the County of San Diego. If you have more than one charge, the bail amounts will be added together (“stacked”) along with any bail for enhancements and prior convictions. There are a few circumstances where the bail amounts will not be stacked. When you are first arrested your bail is set at the jail and there is no discretion in the amount. If you can post bail, then you will be released from jail. If you can’t post bail, then your attorney can make an argument at your arraignment or a bail review hearing for a lower amount. It’s important to know,…


Will you be diligent in your representation?

Will you let me know any time the situation changes or if there’s any progress in the case? Yes. I, and any other attorneys at my office assigned to your case, will be diligent in representing you. Not only because of my personal work habits but because I am ethically obligated to do so. Attorneys licensed in California are bound by the California Rules of Professional Conduct, which provide guidelines for everything from forming a legal business practice to interactions with clients. Rule 3-110 allows for discipline when an attorney fails to “perform legal services with competence.” Part of acting with competence is acting with the diligence needed to provide a criminal defense. Diligence means that I will be familiar with the facts and circumstances surrounding your criminal charges, research the law as needed, and work with others in the court system to get you the best possible outcome. You…


I didn’t steal anything, why am I charged with burglary?

A person can be charged and convicted of burglary even if he didn’t steal anything. Here in California, burglary occurs when a person enters a house, room, apartment, building, vehicle, vessel, or aircraft with the intent to steal or if the person intends to commit any felony once inside. Felonies can include assault, murder, rape, and arson. Additionally, a person doesn’t have to “break” into the house or structure but merely has to “enter.” This can mean walking through an unlocked door rather than shattering a window. If the structure that is burglarized is a place where someone lives, regardless of whether that person is home at the time of the burglary, then the crime is first-degree burglary, which is a felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison. A burglary that occurs where no one lives is considered second-degree burglary and is punishable by up to one year…


What are the benefits of hiring a private attorney over a public defender?

Sometimes the choice between a public defender and a private criminal defense attorney is simply a matter of how much money is in your wallet. If you have money to hire a private attorney, you won’t qualify for assistance from a public defender. If don’t have money but are considering obtaining funds from family or friends to hire a private attorney, here are few benefits to think about: Unlike a public defender who is often overloaded with cases, a private attorney can keep his caseload at a manageable level so that you receive the full attention that your case requires and deserves. If your criminal case spills over into other areas of life, such as estate planning or child custody, your private attorney may have the experience and time necessary to assist you with those additional issues. A private attorney will be there in the future. If you need follow…


Is it possible to get past strikes off my record?

Yes, it’s possible. Having a strike removed is called “striking a strike” and a competent criminal defense attorney can assist you with the process. In California, a strike under the Three Strikes law comes with a conviction of a serious or violent felony. A third strike can result in 25 years to life in prison. Dismissing a prior strike conviction can occur any time before, during or after trial up until sentencing. A defendant and his attorney can submit a Romero motion to have a prior strike dismissed. Also, a judge has the discretion to dismiss a prior strike if it’s in the furtherance of justice. The strike dismissal does not result in the underlying charge being dismissed and it can continued to be used against you in the future. Another way to avoid a strike on your record is when your charge is a “wobbler.” Under California law, a…


I just received my third strike, can Prop 36 help me?

Possibly, depending on the type of felony you were convicted of or when the conviction occurred. Prop 36 was passed in 2012 and made changes to California’s “Three Strikes” law. The Three Strikes law, passed in 1994, made it so that a third felony conviction – any type of felony – carried a penalty of 25 years to life. One of the changes to the Three Strikes law that came with Prop 36 was that a life sentence could only be imposed when the third felony conviction was for a serious or violent felony. If your conviction was for a serious or violent felony, such as robbery or kidnapping, then Prop 36 will not help you avoid the potential for a life sentence under the Three Strikes law. Additionally, Prop 36 made it so that anyone serving a life sentence under the Three Strikes law for a third conviction that…


How long will trial take?

A trial can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a few weeks. Recently, a multiple defendant murder trial in San Diego took more than a year to complete. There are a number of factors that will affect the length of a trial. As a defendant, you have the right to a jury trial but you can elect to have a judge rather than a jury hear your case. A jury will add time to the trial simply by adding the logistics of moving extra people in and out of the courtroom, explanations to the jurors that a judge wouldn’t need, and off-the-record conversations that have to be heard out of the presence of the jury. The largest factor in determining the length of a trial is the amount of evidence that attorneys present. Evidence includes testimony from witnesses and physical items such as clothing or weapons. The amount…


If I am found not guilty, can I be awarded attorney fees?

In a criminal case, the judge will not order the state to pay your attorney fees if you are found not guilty. This is different than a civil case, where it’s not uncommon for a judge to order the losing party to pay the other party’s attorney fees. Often in a civil case, the attorney fees are paid from the judgment at the end of the case, which means that a party doesn’t have to pay attorney fees up front. In a criminal case, attorneys do not make money when they “win” a case. They earn their money by zealously representing their clients and using their experience and skills throughout the entire legal process. A private criminal defense attorney will typically request that payment – or at least a portion of the payment – be paid at the time the representation begins. If you cannot afford a private criminal defense…


Why wouldn’t I go to trial?

The decision to plead guilty or go to trial rests entirely with the defendant. Your attorney will advise you of your options and all the consequences and possible outcomes. But the decision to continue fighting the charges against you is yours to make. And sometimes no matter how much you want your day in court, the risk of losing is too great. If the prosecution offers a plea deal to your attorney, your attorney will tell you about it and explain the consequences. If you don’t have a strong defense and the consequences of losing at trial far outweigh the consequences of the plea deal, you may decide that pleading guilty is your best option. Even if you have a strong defense, you cannot predicate what decision a jury will make. Sometimes the known is a better option than the unknown. The majority of criminal cases end with a plea…


Why should I waive time?

As a defendant, you have the constitutional right to a speedy trial. California Penal Code provides certain deadlines to protect that right. For example, Penal Code 1382(a)(2) requires that a trial in a felony case be held within 60 days of the arraignment on indictment or information. However, your attorney might advise you that waiving time – allowing the deadline to be extended to more than 60 days – is the best option in your case. Perhaps more investigation is needed to support your defense or there is key witness that cannot be located. There may be other times in a criminal case where your attorney may advise you to waive time or continue a hearing to a later date. There are a number of reasons but they all come down to helping you get the best result in your case. Your attorney may need additional time to negotiate a…