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Common Criminal Defense Questions

Our Pasadena Criminal Lawyer Provides Answers

Arrested? You probably have questions and The Law Offices of Matthew Cargal can provide answers! Read below for answers to some of the most common criminal defense-related questions before you contact our Pasadena criminal lawyer at (888) 717-0139 for a FREE consultation.

Can I fight a charge for driving under the influence?

Yes, you can. If you are successful will depend on the details of the crime, the way in which you attempt to fight it and the legal representation that you have on your side. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a charge that is faced by many people and there are frequent situations in which the allegations are wrongfully made. A DUI can be fought due to reasons such as the Field Sobriety Test was administered wrong, the device for a chemical test had not been properly maintained, you were tired but not drunk and more. There are a number of ways that false allegations are made or that individuals are charged for more than they should be. Contact our office to learn the specifics of how we can defend the DUI allegations that have been made against you.

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Can I fight charges even if the police have evidence against me?

When you know your rights, you have a much better chance of avoiding a conviction. Many people in your position are willing to plead guilty because they think that the evidence is solid and there is no way out. A skilled Pasadena criminal defense lawyer can investigate your case from every angle to see whether your legal rights were violate d at any point and determine if the charges can be dropped.

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Can the police search my property?

This is dictated by the search and seizure laws of the state. In order for an officer to search your personal property they will need a warrant. A warrant can allow them to search a home, office, car, you and other specified locations that are believed to potentially posses evidence. They can also seek consent from you and if you allow them they are able to enter the premise and search your property. If they see reason to search due to something in plain view, such as drugs lying out then this may be reasonable cause for them to search without a warrant or consent.

If you are arrested on your property then they are able to look around the immediate area. If exigent circumstances exist they can search without a warrant, and this may be when a suspect has escaped, if there is physical harm to an individual, such as an officer, if evidence has been destroyed and for certain other reasons. When going through an inspection, such as with airport security, a search can be conducted and a warrant is not needed. Other exceptions include if no reasonable expectation of privacy exists. Without valid reason to conduct the search, the evidence that is obtained may be taken out of a case.

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Should I accept a plea bargain to avoid jail time?

Many people are so anxious to avoid going to jail that they will eagerly accept a plea bargain. This is not always the best solution to the situation. If you plead guilty, you will have a criminal conviction on your record. You will also probably be put on a strict probation, which exposes you to the risk of future legal trouble if you are accused of a probation violation. You should consult with your attorney about fighting the charges. You may have better options than accepting a bargain.

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Should I hire an attorney even for a minor offense?

There are some types of charges that may lead to smaller fines and overall fewer penalties, but in criminal defense cases you generally will want to have an attorney in every case. Criminal charges can come with a number of outcomes and being able to avoid the penalties is worth hiring a professional. Misdemeanor convictions can still be devastating and will be on your record as a conviction so even though this does not seem as serious as a felony it should be regarded with high importance. After a charge it is best to discuss your case with a professional to gain their advice.

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Should I hire the attorney who offers me the lowest fee?

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. An attorney should set a fee that represents professional experience, the amount of service you will receive and the attorney's reputation for successful criminal defense. Some attorneys offer low fees while accepting a high volume of cases, with the result that none of their clients receive the necessary amount of attention. The attorney may also quickly settle for a plea bargain in order to bring your case to an end with the least possible effort. Other attorneys may charge more, but you will usually have the benefit of more one-on-one contact with the attorney and a higher overall level of service and results.

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This is not my first arrest – Can I still expect a good result?

If you have one or more prior convictions this might or might not come into play during the defense of your case. There are factors that will influence the situation, such as the amount of time that has elapsed since your last conviction. Another factor is the exact crime you were previously convicted for; if this is a repeat offense, you will be regarded as being a habitual offender. The severity of the crime, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony, will also be important. Under California's Three Strikes law, being convicted of a 3rd felony will usually mean a life sentence.

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What is the three strikes law and how is a strike given?

In the state of California certain crimes will lead to a strike being placed on the record of the individual in question. For those that sustain three strikes, they will deal with harsher penalties. Previously, a third strike means that an automatic sentencing of 25 years to life was given. Through changes to the law in 2012, this is no longer automatic and is reserved most of the time for serious and violent felonies. Individuals that were sentenced based on the old format can also seek to have their term reduced. Strikes may be given in serious or violent felonies, an out of state conviction, juvenile sustained petitions and numerous strikes due to a single trial.

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What penalties will I face?

There are a number of factors that go in to determining the penalties that are issued in a crime. The first is the type of crime and to what extent it was committed. Petty theft versus armed robbery is going to come with very different results. Beyond that the court will look at if the individual has a past criminal history. The case will be turned over to the court and the decision can be made by the judge or jury depending on the case. Sometimes a certain outcome is offered in exchange for admitting guilt. These settlement deals should be reviewed to determine if it is a good deal to take or if you should be fighting harder. Depending on a case the penalties for a conviction can include fines, jail time, probation, the loss of a license, rehabilitative programs and more.

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