Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing a misdemeanor or felony. Many people who face misdemeanor or felony crimes are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment. There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of a misdemeanor or felony crime, based on a misunderstanding or false evidence. You need an attorney who will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly, who will negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney’s office skillfully, and who will fight in trial aggressively. You need Right Choice Law.
As former prosecutors, our Newport Beach criminal defense lawyers have the negotiating skills and trial experience necessary to get the best results for our clients facing criminal charges. With more than 75 years of combined experience, we provide our clients with compassionate and effective legal solutions. Do not wait to let us fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
The following types of crimes Right Choice Law handles include, but are not limited to:
An infraction is defined as a crime for which you cannot go to jail. Most traffic tickets are infractions. If you are charged with an infraction, you can usually represent yourself in traffic court. If you are charged with an infraction, you are NOT entitled to the use of the public defender and you are NOT entitled to a jury trial. Our office will represent people on infractions in certain cases, but most of the time, you don`t need to hire an attorney for these matters.
A misdemeanor is a crime for which the maximum punishment can be up to one year in the county jail. There are many misdemeanors where the maximum punishment is less than a year, but there are no misdemeanors where the maximum punishment is more than a year. Misdemeanor crimes range from drunk in public to DUI to domestic violence to sexual battery. Some misdemeanor crimes are so serious that a conviction requires lifetime sex-offender registration under California Penal Code section 290. The courts have repeatedly ruled that lifetime sex-offender registration is constitutional, even for misdemeanor convictions.
Felonies are crimes for which the maximum punishment involves more than one year of custody time. If a Defendant is given more than one year of custody time, then they must be sent to state prison. The maximum amount of time in state prison depends on each individual felony. Felonies are usually considered more serious crimes and include such crimes as first-degree burglary, drug possession for sale, violent offenses such as assault with a deadly weapon, and most sex crimes such as rape and possession of child pornography.
The first stage of a criminal case is the arraignment. This is the very first appearance in court, where a defendant officially learns what the charges are. The charges are listed in a document called the “complaint”. Bail conditions and amount are often set at the arraignment. The defendant is given the option to plead “guilty” or “not guilty”. If a defendant pleads “not guilty”, then the judge will continue the case to another court date known as the pretrial hearing.
In some counties, the District Attorney`s office will have representatives at the arraignment court to begin negotiations on a case. In other counties, negotiations can only occur at the pretrial stage, after a defendant pleads “not guilty”. Before the judge sets another date for the pretrial appearance, the judge will ask if the defense is willing to “waive time”.
In misdemeanor cases, a defendant has right to a trial within 45 days of the arraignment, unless the defendant chooses not to exercise that option. In felony cases, a defendant has the right to preliminary hearing within 10 court days or 60 calendar days of the arraignment, unless the defendant chooses to give up those options. Giving up the option of having a speedy trial or preliminary hearing is known as “waiving time”. Attorneys will often advise their clients to “waive time” because it might be advantageous to postpone the trial or preliminary hearing.
Once a defendant pleads “not guilty”, the defense attorney meets with the prosecutor in court to discuss the case. This stage is known as a pretrial appearance. There can be many pretrial appearances — as long as it takes for the defense attorney and the prosecutor to resolve the case. However, if no resolution is reached, then misdemeanor cases are set for trial and felony cases are set for preliminary hearing.
In felony cases, after the preliminary hearing, a second arraignment occurs. At this second arraignment, the District Attorney`s office files a document called the Information. The Information is similar to the “complaint” and it contains all the charges against the defendant. Again, the defendant enters a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty”. If the defendant pleads “not guilty”, then the court will set a trial date with an interim “trial readiness conference” so that both sides can meet to determine if they are ready for trial.
A defendant who does not accept either the District Attorney`s offer to resolve the case or the court`s offer to resolve the case must eventually have a trial. At trial, the prosecution must prove that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” for every charge alleged. Normally, the prosecution must prove their case before a jury of twelve people and these twelve people must unanimously agree as to whether the defendant is “guilty” or “not guilty”. However, if the defendant does not want a jury trial, he/she can elect to have a court trial or bench trial, where only a judge hears and decides the evidence.
If a defendant is convicted, either by pleading guilty or conviction after trial, then there can be a separate hearing to determine the defendant`s sentence (or punishment). If the crime involved a victim, then the victim has the right to be present at the sentencing and to give a statement to the judge. At these proceedings, the prosecutor and the defense attorney will each argue for what they believe is the appropriate sentence. The judge will consider the facts of the case, as well as the defendant`s prior record (if any), input from the victim, and any other relevant information, before determining the sentence.
If a defendant was unfairly convicted, either by plea or trial, then the defendant can appeal the conviction.
If you or a loved one has been arrested in Newport Beach or Orange County, our former prosecutors at Right Choice Law are prepared to review your case, determine your legal options, and develop an aggressive and personalized defense strategy to ensure you avoid harsh criminal penalties or get your entire case dismissed. We offer payment plans for our knowledgeable and skilled legal services. Take a look at our case results and read our client testimonials to learn more about how we help people facing serious charges.
Our team at Right Choice Law is backed by 60 years of combined experience.
We are committed to our clients. We will spend as much time as it takes to get the best result possible.
Principal Attorney Fred Thiagarajah is a member of MENSA, the international high-IQ society.
You don't need just a good attorney. You need an attorney that you can trust to protect your future.
At Right Choice Law, all of our lawyers are former Deputy District Attorneys.
Laws are constantly changing. Our attorneys are up to date on all the latest developments with constant research and regular attendance at seminars.