The criminal process can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if you have never been through it before. Understanding what to expect can provide you with valuable peace of mind during this challenging time:
- Arrest and bail – If law enforcement officers arrest you, they will convey you to a police station and book you. You may then have the option to post bail to secure your release before your trial. If you cannot afford bail, you will attend a hearing to determine whether the court should release you on your own recognizance or with conditions.
- Arraignment – This is the first court appearance after your arrest. Prosecutors will formally charge you with the crime, and you can enter a guilty or not guilty plea.
- Pre-trial conference – This conference is a meeting between the prosecutor and your defense attorney to discuss the case and possibly reach a plea bargain.
- Preliminary hearing – During the preliminary hearing, the judge determines whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
- Trial, verdict, and sentencing – If a pre-trial deal cannot be reached, the jury selection process begins. During the trial, the prosecution and defense will present their evidence. Once both sides rest their case, the jury deliberates to reach a verdict. A judge will determine your punishment at a sentencing hearing if they find you guilty.
- Appeals – You have the right to appeal a guilty verdict. Consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer for advice on your next best steps.
How Should You Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
There is no shortage of criminal attorneys in L.A. So, how do you choose a criminal defense lawyer? Consider these factors:
- Experience – Look for a criminal defense attorney with a history of defending clients against charges similar to yours. A proven attorney knows criminal law and how the California court system has treated cases like yours in the past. This background knowledge will help them craft a strong defense on your behalf.
- Communication – Choose an attorney who communicates clearly and frequently with you. You want a lawyer who will update you regularly about the progress of your case and who will answer your questions promptly and simply.
- Individualized attention – At this critical moment in your life, you need an attorney who will treat you and your case with the customized care you deserve. Make sure your prospective lawyer takes your situation and the effects it can have on your life seriously.
- Reputation – Look for a respected attorney with a reputation for winning cases and defending clients vigorously. Ask for referrals from people you trust or check for online reviews.
- Fees – Make sure you understand the attorney’s fee structure and what services they include. Some attorneys charge a flat fee, while others charge by the hour. Ensure you know what you will be paying for.
Ultimately, you want to hire a lawyer who goes above and beyond the basic requirements of the job. You should also have a good rapport with them. Your prospective attorney should be transparent and give you the information you need and an honest assessment of your situation during your initial consultation. If you don’t have a good gut feeling, interview other lawyers.
California’s Three Strikes Law
Hiring a successful criminal defense lawyer is vital no matter what, especially if you have prior convictions. Under California’sThree Strikes Law, someone with two prior felony convictions faces a minimum sentence of 25 years to life in prison upon a third felony conviction. Lawmakers wanted this law to deter repeat offenders, but it can also be unfair and unjust. However, there are ways to defend clients against Three Strikes charges. At the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling, we can argue for a judge to remove a strike or reduce your felony charge to a misdemeanor.
Get the Legal Support You Deserve: Contact Justin E. Sterling, Top Criminal Defense Lawyer in LA
The Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling is a respected Los Angeles criminal defense law firm with an impressive track record of success representing clients in a wide range of criminal matters. We intentionally take on a smaller caseload to give each case the attention it deserves. Our legal support staff includes a team of investigators and former senior law enforcement professionals who help build a strong defense for you. Put simply, we care about your future and will defend it aggressively. Contact us today for a confidential consultation with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.