Sacramento County Criminal Lawyer
Criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If prosecutors cannot prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you are legally entitled to acquittal.
The sooner you retain an experienced Sacramento County criminal lawyer, the better your chances of acquittal. Do not waive your constitutional protections by speaking to police without a qualified defense attorney present. Seek legal counsel right away.
Fundamental Constitutional Rights of Criminal Defendants
Those accused of serious crimes may invoke the following state and federal rights:
- S. Constitution – To remain silent and not be compelled to provide evidence against themselves
- California Constitution Art. 1, Sec. 14 –To have reasonable time to obtain a private attorney
- Const. Art. 1, Sec. 15 – To be represented by defense counsel, confront and question all witnesses, and a speedy and public trial
- Pen. Code § 687 – To not be re-prosecuted for the same offense after acquittal
Criminal suspects who cannot afford an attorney may request a Sacramento County public defender free of charge. They also have reasonable time to speak with and retain private defense counsel with whom they may discuss these essential rights.
Sacramento Criminal Justice Process
The U.S. Constitution mandates that prosecutors bring criminal cases to a speedy resolution. Most prosecutions follow a set procedure beginning with the arrangement within 48 hours of arrest. In Sacramento County, the accused has the right to request a criminal defense attorney during an arraignment and may subsequently enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere to the charges.
Defendants who plead not guilty proceed to a phase called discovery.
During discovery, a legal defense team could review the prosecution’s evidence, gather evidence in the defendant’s favor, and raise any applicable constitutional challenges. Building a strong defense during discovery may result in dismissal of the charges or a beneficial plea deal. If the charges are not dismissed or a plea deal is not reached, the case proceeds to trial.
Potential Defenses to Felony & Misdemeanor Charges
Defendants may raise constitutional, evidentiary, and substantive defenses to criminal charges. Constitutional and procedural defenses challenge the legality of the prosecution and evidence gathering process. For example, incriminating evidence seized without a warrant may be excluded from consideration during trial. Serious constitutional and procedural violations often result in acquittal or dismissal of criminal charges.
Substantive defenses assert a defendant’s innocence by mitigating an element of the offense or otherwise justifying a defendant’s actions. Common examples of these defenses include:
- Actual innocence – Presenting evidence that a defendant did not commit a crime under state or federal law
- Not guilty by reason of Insanity ( Pen. Code § 1026) – Claiming that a defendant did not have the mental facilities necessary to comprehend the nature and illegality of his or her actions
- Self-defense/defense of another ( Pen. Code § 198.5) – Arguing that the offense was justified because the accused was protecting himself or another from death, rape, or serious bodily harm
- Duress – Contending that a defendant was being forced to commit a greater crime and could not reasonably request police assistance
- Mistake of Fact – Explaining that the defendant honestly believed certain justifying facts were true even if they were not
An experienced defense attorney in Sacramento County could analyze a criminal complaint to determine the strongest applicable defense to the charges. Defendants may raise numerous procedural, constitutional, and substantive defenses to a criminal complaint.
Call a Dedicated Sacramento County Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing any criminal charge can be stressful and overwhelming. Prosecutors often overcharge defendants to strong-arm them into pleading guilty before scrutinizing the evidence against them with defense counsel. A qualified Sacramento County criminal lawyer might convince local prosecutors to reduce or dismiss many of these charges.
Do not let law enforcement intimidate you into waiving your right to an attorney. Call us immediately to discuss your potential defense.