Alameda Criminal Lawyer
Being charged with a crime can be a frightening and difficult experience. While you may realize that this is a serious matter that should be addressed quickly, you might also be confused and not know who to turn to for help.
The simple fact is that any allegation of criminal wrongdoing is a serious matter. Even cases that go forward as misdemeanors can result in the creation of a criminal record or time spent in jail upon conviction. Even more concerning are felonies where convictions have the potential for prison sentences and may even come with mandatory minimum sentences. It is essential that you jump into action and provide yourself with every possible advantage as soon as you learn that you are the target of an investigation or when an arrest takes place.
If you reside in Alameda County or the surrounding areas and find yourself facing criminal charges, an Alameda criminal lawyer may be able to help. A skilled defense attorney could work to review the facts of your case; serve as an advocate on your behalf with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and court officials; interpret your charges and explain what potential penalties might result, and guide you through the legal process. En Español.
What to Expect Following an Arrest
An arrest is always a traumatic experience. Even so, it is vital that people remember their rights under the law and how to protect themselves against aggressive police tactics.
Even before an arrest occurs, always remember that law enforcement officials are not your friends. They may state that they are simply trying to make things easier for you or that a confession may result in a lighter sentence. These are common techniques that they use to make suspects or those in custody feel more comfortable. Even though these plans are manipulative, they are legal in the eyes of the law.
Always remember that even suspects have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. With this in mind, all people who learn that they are a suspect in an investigation or who have been arrested should say nothing more to a police officer than making a clear request to speak to an attorney. This is the first time that an Alameda criminal defense attorney could provide help. A criminal defense attorney can help control the line of questioning, serve as a mouthpiece for the client, advise clients to not answer specific questions, and offer clarity and support to the client under investigation. If police intend to use a lineup to obtain an identification, a lawyer can not only be present to observe the administration of said lineup but could also later dispute the fairness of the lineup and request that the court suppress the supposed evidence garnered from the lineup.
Benefit of a Criminal Lawyer
People tend to imagine that an attorney’s assistance only bears fruit at trial. While presenting a defense during a trial is certainly a major part of an attorney’s job, it is far from the only time where a criminal lawyer could help.
Even a first appearance at court during an arraignment can have a substantial impact on a case. These sessions are a first opportunity to hear the formal charges, determine a defendant’s bail conditions, and argue over the necessity for protective orders. Having a criminal attorney at one’s side could help a person litigate their case outside of custody rather than fighting their case from the inside whether that’s through release on their own recognizance or getting bail reduced so that the family of the accused can come to their aide, a criminal defense lawyer can leverage opportunities available in a case at the outset.
Lawyers also provide representation during all pre-trial hearings. These are often opportunities to argue key points of law, file substantive motions, and attend evidentiary hearings. For example, prosecutors may allege that they have a defendant’s confession on tape concerning the allegation at hand. However, an Alameda criminal attorney may believe that this supposed confession took place after a defendant invoked the right to have an attorney present and contest the admissibility of the statement. Similar arguments about cases before they go to trial include:
- The admissibility of evidence obtained as the result of a police search
- Which statements are hearsay and should not go before a jury
- The admissibility of supposed expert reports or scientific evidence
From the moment that a person learns that he or she is the target of an investigation, to the time of an arrest, to all pre-trial court sessions, to the day of the final trial or plea, an experienced criminal defense lawyer is prepared to act to protect the rights of the accused.
How State Law Classifies Various Criminal Offenses
Allegations of criminal wrongdoing in Alameda County and throughout California fall into two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies can be straight felonies or wobblers and they can also be strikes or non-strikes depending on whether they are serious and/or violent felonies.
Many less egregious criminal offenses are misdemeanors. These are offenses that can result in up to one year in jail, a fine often up to $1,000, or both. However, the specific statute itself must specify that these penalties are applicable to the offense. If a law states only that an offense is a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is a jail sentence of no more than six months.
Misdemeanor accusations often involve relatively minor property crimes or actions that offend the public’s sense of decency. Prominent examples include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol under California Vehicle Code § 23152
- Simple assaults that do not result in significant bodily harm under California Penal Code § 240.
- Cases of simple larceny like petty theft under CA Pen. Code § 484
- Resisting arrest under California Penal Code § 148(a)
- Domestic Battery under Penal Code § 243(e)(1)
An accomplished criminal defense attorney in Alameda is prepared to further explain the concept of a misdemeanor under the state’s laws and the potential penalties upon a conviction.
Felonies are always more serious than misdemeanor cases. Under felony laws, a conviction can always result in more than one year in prison. In fact, many of these cases come with mandatory minimum sentences that statutorily sets the minimum period of incarceration associated with an offense.
Allegations of felonies always come with the belief that a defendant has committed a serious offense. These can include accusations of illegal drug distribution, severe assaults, a variety of sex crimes, and incidents where another person has died. After each arrest, it is essential to begin crafting a defense against these charges as quickly as possible.
The state’s penal code is interesting in that it identifies criminal offenses that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. These crimes are referred to as wobbler offenses. In short, the statutes that define these allegations leave the discretion up to the prosecutor filing the charges to determine whether to pursue the case as a misdemeanor or a felony. In addition, the judge trying the case can reduce an offense after a preliminary hearing to a misdemeanor from a felony pursuant to Penal Code § 17(b). The judge ultimately decides how severe the punishments can be for parties whose cases end with a guilty verdict or an admission of responsibility.
One way in which a criminal defense lawyer can help in a wobbler case is by working to convince either Alameda prosecutors or judges to allow the case to move forward as a misdemeanor. In many situations, this involves entering into a plea deal with an admission of guilt serving as a show of good faith in exchange for a lighter sentence. In others, it means demonstrating that mitigating factors or evidence adduced through substantive hearings like a preliminary hearing provide a sufficient basis for the court to treat the event as one that should be reduced. In either event, a criminal attorney is ready to provide persuasive defenses against misdemeanor, felony, and wobbler allegations.
Common Charges an Attorney in Alameda Could Help Contest
A criminal defense lawyer in Alameda may be able to help defend against charges stemming from many types of criminal offenses, including but certainly not limited to:
- Drug-related crimes, including possession, distribution, and manufacturing
- Assault and/or battery
- Larceny-related crimes
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Prostitution and solicitation
- Sex crimes, including allegations of rape and possession of child pornography
What Duties Could a Criminal Lawyer Perform?
An Alameda criminal attorney may perform several different duties while defending a client accused of a specific offense. The particular responsibilities and tactics a lawyer takes may vary depending on the individual circumstances of each case.
Everyone accused of a crime has the right to due process. This means that the accused must be afforded the opportunity to argue against their charges and present evidence that they did not commit the crime in question. The legal process of defending one’s innocence is typically a lengthy process that involves numerous steps.
Among other obligations, it is a defense attorney’s role to represent their client through each of these specific steps, which may include arraignments, discovery, pretrial hearings, settlement negotiations, trials, and sentencing. The exact processes relevant to a specific client’s case could depend on various factors including but not limited to the crime allegedly committed, the severity of the charges, and whether the case will proceed to trial or end in a plea bargain or with the charges dropped.
A criminal case may be won or lost on the basis of the evidence that each side presents. A criminal lawyer in Alameda may spend a significant amount of time researching police reports, crime scene recreations, and other pieces of evidence that may offer a better account of the events surrounding the alleged offense.
Does a Lawyer Interview Witnesses?
The testimony offered by witnesses to an alleged crime may prove quite beneficial to a defendant’s case. An experienced lawyer might seek out individuals who witnessed the incident in question and may be able to corroborate the defendant’s account of the events, or at least challenge the prosecution’s position.
Formulating A Defense
Once a criminal attorney gathers evidence and has their investigator consult with witnesses, they could work to create defensive strategies on behalf of the accused. As the criminal defense process moves forward, an attorney will advise their client on the best possible outcomes, whether expert testimony is needed, who can serve as useful witnesses, what evidence is weighing in their favor or against them, and how to approach resolution by way of plea or trial.
Defending Against Criminal Charges in Alameda
Every person facing a criminal accusation in California has the right to plead NOT GUILTY and contest those charges in court. The prosecutor always bears the burden of proving each element of a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, many powerful defenses against criminal charges do not present any evidence on behalf of a defendant facing these accusations. Instead, they focus on creating reasonable doubt concerning the evidence that a prosecutor presents at trial.
Each criminal allegation in Alameda has its basis in the state’s laws. For the most part, this involves sections of the state’s Penal Code. However, others are found in the state’s Vehicle Code, Health and Safety Code, Business and Professions Code, Welfare and Institutions Code, etc. As listed above, each statute will describe the behavior that indicates a violation of these laws and what a prosecutor must prove to secure a conviction in these matters. Proving reasonable doubt about a single element of these crimes will be sufficient to obtain a verdict of not guilty.
Of course, each defendant also has the opportunity to present additional evidence to the court that contradicts information that a prosecutor presents to a jury. This may include:
- A defendant providing testimony on the stand
- Expert witness reports that contradict the State’s findings
- Third party witnesses who could provide contradicting versions of events
- Alternative camera angles or photographs that depict an alleged crime
- Information that may justify a defendant’s actions as an incident of self defense
The goal of an Alameda criminal defense attorney is to obtain this evidence and present it to the court in a convincing manner. Every person’s case is unique, and the defense strategy must reflect this fact. Contacting an attorney today allows the criminal attorney to evaluate the evidence that a prosecutor intends to present at trial and work towards formulating a defense that creates reasonable doubt concerning this information.
Speak with an Alameda Criminal Attorney Today
The actions you employ immediately after being charged with a criminal offense may be critical to determining your future. To that end, it could be a particularly prudent decision to contact a seasoned Alameda criminal attorney who could help you manage your case. To find out how a dedicated local attorney could help you fight whatever charges are levied against you, call today to set up a consultation.