Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get someone out of jail?
We suggest that you contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney David Elden immediately. In many counties, there is an established personal bond system that may allow an accused to be released on his or her own recognizance; without paying a substantial sum of money. It may be necessary for the accused to have a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to qualify for a personal recognizance bond. If release on a personal recognizance bond is not an option, other options include posting cash in the amount set by the court or hiring a bail bondsman to post a surety bond. The bondsman will charge a fee for this service. It may also be possible for the accused or a person acting on behalf of the accused to post property as collateral for the bond.
Will my case go to trial?
A person accused of a crime in California courts has a right to have the case tried before a jury. That right cannot be taken away without the agreement of the defendant, the prosecutor and the judge. However, most criminal cases are not resolved by trial. The vast majority is settled through negotiations with the prosecutor after each side has had a chance to investigative the case and to resolve legal disputes at a pre-trial hearing.
How can I have my criminal record expunged?
If your misdemeanor case resulted in a dismissal or an acquittal or if your felony case resulted in a dismissal prior to indictment or an acquittal, you may go through a procedure in court to remove the record of the arrest and prosecution from your record. There are some exceptions to this general statement. Your attorney can determine the exceptions in your case. Also, if you received deferred adjudication on some felony and misdemeanor offenses, a new law allows you to have those records sealed from public access. Some misdemeanors require a wait of five years from the end of the period of deferred adjudication. Felonies require a ten-year wait. Again, there are some exceptions to these general rules. You should contact your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to determine if you are eligible for the above procedures.
Can my Los Angeles criminal defense attorney file a motion asking the judge to dismiss my case because the evidence is weak?
This is a common misconception probably resulting from poorly written TV shows. A trial judge does not have the general power to dismiss a criminal case prior to trial because he or she believes the evidence is weak. After a misdemeanor is filed and after indictment in a felony the trial judge may dismiss a case only upon a motion to dismiss brought by the prosecutor or on defense motions based on a very narrow set of procedural regularities. A judge or jury may acquit an accused after a trial based on insufficient evidence, but may not dismiss the case for that reason prior to trial.
If a person discovers that a warrant for their arrest has been issued what should they do?
If a person learns that he has a warrant out for his arrest, he should contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney David Elden immediately. Also, he shouldn’t take any steps to hide from the police or to otherwise obstruct execution of the warrant. Such efforts may constitute additional criminal offenses. A warrant gives a police officer the right to take the named person into custody where ever they are found. An arrest at an inopportune moment, such as in front of family, State Attorneys or coworkers will undoubtedly add the anguish of being charged with an offense. Depending of course on what offense the warrant is for, it is often possible for an attorney to arrange a “walk through” procedure to avoid an arrest.
In a “walk through” the attorney arranges with the police agency that is attempting to execute the warrant to allow the subject of the warrant to surrender himself to the booking desk of the county jail. The attorney and client will have prearranged either a personal recognizance bond or, if the assistance of a bail bondsman to satisfy the bond. In some counties, the process takes about 30 to 45 minutes and the client is never actually placed in jail. In other counties, the client will be booked into jail but will be released in a few hours when the booking process has been completed. Whether a “walk through” can be arranged depends on several factors including which county is involved, the nature of the offense charged, and the appropriateness of the client for bond.
What is the difference between a federal and state crime?
A federal crime is a violation of a statute passed by the United States Congress. A state crime is a violation of a statute or ordinance passed by the state legislature or a local authority. Usually the federal crime addresses criminal activity or a more national concern. Although, in recent decades the federal government has become increasingly involved in prosecuting drug and violent crimes, areas once left almost exclusively to the states. Many crimes are prosecutable in both state and federal courts.
Who investigates and Prosecutes federal crimes?
For the most part, federal criminal offenses are investigated by agents of federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, ATF, Secret Service and others. Occasionally, state law enforcement officers work in conjunction with federal agencies. Federal crimes are usually prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the area where the crime occurred. Sometimes a prosecutor for the United States Department of Justice, or from an agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency will participate in a federal prosecution.
If I am charged with or under investigation for a federal offense do I need a “federal” criminal defense lawyer?
In order for a lawyer to represent you in a federal criminal matter he or she must be licensed to practice in the federal court where the case is pending or must receive permission of the court to practice there on a one-time basis. Additionally, the federal criminal justice system is drastically different than the state system. It is important that your lawyer have experience in federal court so that he or she can effectively represent you.
What are the federal Sentencing Guidelines?
From 1987 until recently in federal court, if a defendant was found guilty or pleaded guilty, the judge assessed punishment in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines. The United States Sentencing Guidelines manual contains the rules for determining the range within which a judge’s sentence was required fall. Factors that went into the determination included, the offense for which the defendant was convicted; certain factors about the offense such as how much money was involved in a financial crime, the role of the defendant in the overall scheme and other factors concerning the defendant’s conduct; and the defendant’s criminal record. The court was required to sentence within the applicable guideline range (expressed in a range of months) unless the case was extremely unusual or qualified for one of the few exceptions allowing the judge to depart from the guidelines. Guideline sentencing was a complicated aspect of federal criminal cases. However, the United States Supreme Court, in January 2005 declared the mandatory nature of the guidelines unconstitutional. At this time the guidelines are to be used by the judges as advisory tools to help them exercise their sentencing discretion. Congress will probably act in the near future to again change the sentencing scheme.
If I am under investigation for a federal offense but have not been charged should I contact an attorney?
You should contact David Elden, your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, immediately. You have important rights during the investigation that should be protected. How you proceed at this state may drastically affect the ultimate outcome of your case.
How much time do I have to file my appeal?
The appellate process begins with the filing of a Notice of Appeal. If the Notice of Appeal is not timely filed, you may loose your right to appeal. In state cases, (except in some Municipal or Justice of the Peace Court proceedings) the notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the sentencing date unless a Motion for New Trial has been timely filed. If a Motion for New Trial has been filed, the Notice of Appeal must be filed within 90 days of the sentencing. In federal cases the Notice of Appeal must generally be filed within 10 days of the date of sentencing. Note: These deadlines are extremely important. You should contact an attorney immediately if you are contemplating an appeal. You should not rely on your own calculations of the deadline for filing a Notice of Appeal. It is important that your attorney have as much time as possible to prepare the appeal. The Notice of Appeal is just the first step in the process.
Will I be able to remain on bond during the appeal if sentenced to a term of incarceration?
It depends on the offense for which you were convicted and the sentence you received. In state court, a conviction for certain serious offenses (mainly those involving violence or sexual conduct with children) disqualifies the defendant for bond pending appeal. In other offenses, the defendant is eligible for bond pending appeal if the sentence is less than 10 years. Otherwise, the defendant will be in custody while the appeal is pending.
What happens if I win my appeal?
If the appellate court concluded that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the conviction, an acquittal will be ordered. If the appellate court concluded that evidence was improperly admitted or excluded, or other procedural errors were made at your trial, and the court further concludes that the error was not harmless, the case will be returned to the trial court for a new trial. The prosecution has the option of either going forward again with the case or dismissing it. If the appellate court has ruled that evidence critical to the prosecution’s case cannot be used at a subsequent trial, the prosecution may have no choice but to dismiss the case or risk a certain verdict of acquittal.
Does an appellate court hear witnesses testify?
No. An appellate court makes its ruling in a case from examining the written transcript of the trial prepared by the court reporter. The attorneys for each side prepare written arguments called briefs that point out errors in the trial and argue the applicable law.
How long does an appeal take?
The time varies greatly. An appeal may take from about 8 or 9 months to several years depending on the complexity of the case and the particular court or courts to which the appeal is taken. Please contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney David Elden for a no cost consultation regarding your case. Increase your chances, call Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney: Elden Law Group, 11377 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064 (800) 455-6200