A criminal conviction for any offense can be a life-changing event. If you are charged with a crime, a Costa Mesa criminal defense attorney may be the best asset you can have as you work toward defeating the charges against you and avoiding conviction. In addition, the average person with minimal experience in the criminal court system needs legal counsel to navigate their case as successfully as possible.
Brown & Stedman LLP has extensive professional experience in criminal defense representation. Our team has helped many Costa Mesa clients avoid conviction and minimize sentencing in various criminal cases. We understand that no two criminal cases are exactly alike and that every defendant has unique needs and concerns that must be addressed in their criminal proceedings. Therefore, when you choose our firm to represent you in a criminal case, you can expect personalized legal counsel and ongoing support.
The Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees the right to legal counsel when you are accused of a crime, and it is vital that you fully exercise that right in any criminal case. However, if you cannot afford to hire an attorney or do not wish to pay for a private defense lawyer, the court can appoint a public defender free of charge to act as your defense counsel.
This may seem like the easiest option for securing legal representation, and it can be an attractive possibility because defense counsel can come free of charge. First, however, it is vital to understand the differences between what you can expect from a public defender and what an experienced private Orange County criminal defense attorney can provide.
While most public defenders in California are hardworking and talented attorneys, even the best public defenders do not have much flexibility to provide any client with much in the way of individual attention. For example, your public defender may only be able to spend an hour or two each day working on your defense while managing several other cases simultaneously. By comparison, you can expect a more personalized defense representation level when you have an experienced private defense lawyer handling your case.
When you face criminal charges, your future is at stake. In the short term a conviction jeopardizes your freedom, but it also puts at serious risk opportunities in your career, your education and in your personal life.
You must exercise your constitutional rights after an arrest. First, you have the right to remain silent, and you should fully exercise this right as soon as the police notify you that you are under arrest. Do not attempt to explain yourself or say anything to the police; anything you say can almost certainly be used against you in your criminal trial. Stay silent and comply with the police officer’s directions through the arrest and booking process. You will eventually be permitted to make your phone calls, and you should reach out to Brown & Stedman LLP as soon as possible after your arrest. When we represent clients in criminal cases that include, among others:
Our firm takes time to learn as much as possible about a client’s situation to ensure we address all the unique variables of their case. Every criminal case will involve different details, and the penalty a defendant faces can fluctuate significantly based on multiple variables. Once you have been arrested on criminal charges, the police will book you and permit you to make a few phone calls. Make sure one of those calls is to an Orange County criminal defense attorney you can trust.
The right defense counsel can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your criminal case. The criminal justice system of the United States requires the prosecution in a criminal case to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt; the defendant does not necessarily need to prove their innocence. However, it is not wise to passively hope that the prosecution fails to meet this burden. It is always best to be as proactive as possible in a criminal case, and this is where your Orange County criminal defense attorney will be most helpful.
Your attorney’s primary goal in handling your case should be to secure an acquittal or case dismissal. They may accomplish this in various ways, such as highlighting due process violations by the police who arrested you or citing chain of custody violations in the prosecution’s handling of the material evidence in your case. They may also seek to disprove the prosecution’s allegations against you by establishing an alibi, proving you could not have committed the offense in question.
When a conviction is unavoidable, and the prosecution has more than enough evidence to convict, they may offer a plea deal to the defendant. In the plea-bargaining process, the prosecution exchanges a lighter sentence or reduced charges in exchange for the defendant’s swift guilty plea. This will conserve court resources and save time and money for all parties involved when a defendant’s guilt is certain. If you know you committed the offense in question and your defense attorney acknowledges that you have minimal room to fight the charges against you, they will likely advise you to accept a plea deal.
The defenses available to you in a criminal case largely depend on the nature of the offense, your prior criminal history, and other variables. For example, if you are charged with drug possession because the police found drugs in your car during a traffic stop, you could have multiple defense options. Your Orange County criminal defense attorney may seek to prove that the police lacked probable cause to search your vehicle or that the drugs in question did not belong to you. You may have given a friend a ride, and they dropped the drugs in your vehicle mistakenly, or some other situation may have occurred in which drugs that did not belong to you found their way into your vehicle.
If you are charged with a crime such as domestic violence, assault, or homicide, you may need to prove that you acted in self-defense. California does not enforce a “Stand Your Ground” law, but the Castle Doctrine does apply if you must act in self-defense in your own home. Alternatively, you must prove that you reasonably believed you faced a mortal threat of imminent danger in the incident that led to your act of self-defense.
When you cannot prove your innocence affirmatively or establish a solid alibi, avoiding conviction may come down to attacking the prosecution’s case at a foundational level. This can include proving failures of the criminal court system, due process violations that led to your wrongful arrest, civil rights violations, or calling the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence and witnesses into question. Ultimately, the best possible defenses vary significantly from case to case, and it is essential to have defense counsel who can help you thoroughly explore all available avenues of defense.
The California Penal Code separates criminal offenses into different designations. Infractions are the least severe and apply to minor violations of the law, such as speeding or parking violations. Most infractions in California are punishable by a small fine of up to $250 in most cases. Misdemeanors are more serious offenses and can entail harsh penalties, including more significant fines, incarceration in county jail, mandatory probation, and various other penalties.
Felonies are the most severe criminal charges a person can face in California. Most felonies involve victimization of another party, premeditated illegal actions, and an intentional desire to harm others. The penalties for felonies can include incarceration in state prison, heavy fines, loss of constitutional rights, and various personal and professional consequences.
Some offenses in California are “wobblers,” meaning they can qualify as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the unique details of a case. Every criminal case will involve aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating factors enhance the potential penalties a defendant faces and effectively work against the defendant. Mitigating factors work in the defendant’s favor and may lead to lighter sentencing.
If you know you broke the law and the prosecutor handling your criminal case has all the evidence to convict you, plea bargaining could be the best option for resolving your case. In a plea bargain, the prosecution agrees to lighter sentencing or reduced charges in exchange for the defendant submitting a guilty plea at their arraignment. Plea bargaining isn’t offered to every defendant, and a defendant’s criminal history can discourage a prosecutor from considering a plea agreement. However, if a plea bargain is offered, your Orange County criminal defense lawyer will be a crucial asset in determining if the prosecution’s deal suits your best interests.
Time is a critical factor in any criminal case. The sooner you secure legal counsel, the better your chances are of successfully fighting the charges against you. Of course, no attorney can guarantee a client any specific result in any given case, but the right Orange County criminal defense attorney handling your case can make a very positive impact on the outcome. Brown & Stedman LLP has the experience and skill you need on your side to develop an effective defense. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.
We invite you to call us at 949-459-5900 to schedule your free initial consultation. You can also reach our firm by contacting us online.
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