When you have been charged with or arrested for a crime, you can expect the criminal process to follow the below steps. For expert legal representation in any criminal law or DUI case, contact attorney Ross Erlich.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Offenses
A misdemeanor is an offense that is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine. A felony is punishable by fines and more than a year in a county jail or a state prison.
When one is arrested they must be arraigned within 48 hours. This means that they must be taken before a judge, advised of the charges against them and given an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. At arraignment several other things occur. First, bail is usually set by the judge. Bail can range from nothing to millions of dollars. In some cases like first offenses or simple misdemeanors, the defendant may be released based upon his/her promise to return to court and not have to post any bail. In other cases such as serious felonies, bail may be set at millions of dollars. In most counties the court has a bail schedule which sets a specific bail for each specific offense. Normally, at the arraignment, the defendant’s lawyer will be given a copy of the charges against the defendant and a copy of the initial police reports which have been prepared to date.
In the case of misdemeanors, after a defendant pleads not guilty his case is often set for a pre-trial conference. This is an opportunity for the defense attorney to discuss the case and possible settlement with the prosecutor and/or the judge prior to setting the case for trial. In the case of a felony, many courts offer an early disposition conference or early settlement conference before the case is set for a preliminary examination. This is often a good chance to talk to a judge or a district attorney about an early and favorable settlement of the case.
Preliminary Examination or Preliminary Hearing
In the case of felonies, after a defendant pleads not guilty he has the right to a preliminary examination within ten court days of his arraignment. A preliminary examination or preliminary hearing, as it is often referred to, is a probable cause determination. At this stage, the prosecutor has the burden of proving that there is a reasonable likelihood that a crime was committed and that the defendant was the one that committed the crime. If the judge finds that probable cause exists then the defendant is held to answer on felony charges and the case may proceed toward trial.
Arraignment in Superior Court
In felony cases, after the defendant has been held to answer on felony charges, he is arraigned again in Superior Court. Thereafter a trial date is set approximately sixty days later.
A defendant in any criminal case has the right to a trial. In a trial twelve members of the community are called upon to hear all of the evidence in the case. When the evidence has been heard, the jury is called upon to determine if the defendant is innocent or guilty. If he is found innocent, or acquitted, then he goes free. If he is convicted then he will face sentencing before the trial judge.
Probation and Sentencing
At the time of the defendant’s sentencing, the judge decides if the defendant will be granted probation or if sentence will be immediately imposed. In misdemeanor cases, informal probation is normally imposed. In felony cases, probation can be granted in many cases. However, just because probation is granted, defendants can still be sentenced to jail time. Remember, probation in felony cases simply means that a state prison sentence will not be imposed right away.
Violations of Probation
If a defendant violates probation, the judge could impose up to the maximum sentence for which the defendant has been convicted. This applies to both misdemeanors and felonies. For example, if a defendant pled guilty to a case with a maximum of three years in prison, the judge could impose up to three years in prison, even if the defendant received probation for the original sentence.
If a defendant has been wrongly convicted they may have the right to appeal. A notice of appeal should be filed immediately upon sentencing in many cases. Beware that there are strict time limits set for filing a notice of appeal if you plan to appeal a criminal conviction. Appeals require great skill and knowledge of the law. Appeals are very different than trial and utilize different standards of proof and can be quite complicated. There are many different types of appeals, some occur before the case is over and some occur after. Appeals, writs and other post-conviction relief is often subject to strict rules and timelines. Failure to understand these rules can compromise your rights. Call a skilled appellate lawyer immediately if you have questions about an appeal.
The law allows us to expunge our convictions in many cases where probation is granted. This applies to both misdemeanors and felonies. If a defendant has been convicted of a felony, typically that charge can be reduced to a misdemeanor and then expunged. Expungement is the process where we ask the court to allow the defendant to withdraw their previously entered plea of guilty or no contest or otherwise set aside their conviction and dismiss the case entirely. This process can be very beneficial to many people. If you have previously been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, you may consider speaking with a lawyer about reducing your felony conviction to a misdemeanor or expunging any conviction you have suffered. An expungement allows you to tell any non-governmental entity that you have never been convicted or even arrested for the crime that was expunged. If you or a loved one has been arrested, charged with a crime or are currently involved in criminal proceedings, contact Ross Erlich today for a free case evaluation. There may be several different ways to handle your case and confront the evidence against you and it is important that you are aware of all of those ways.
20 Feb / 2019
One of the most common questions I get from people seeking to hire an attorney is “why should I hire you and not just use the public defender?” Well, it is a good question and is something that should be explained in detail to someone before they make their decision about legal representation.
First off, most all of the public defenders I know are good lawyers. They are in court all day, everyday. They are often in the same courtroom for weeks, months, even years, thus, they know the judge and the judge’s proclivities very well. They handle lots of cases and get lots of good experience handling a variety of cases and legal issues very quickly.
That being said, public defender’s all have an extremely large caseload. While they gain great experience handling many cases, if you are represented by a public defender, you might be one of 30 clients they have to see, talk to, and conduct a hearing for that day. That being said, I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve heard people call my office, who were being represented by a public defender or who had one before, tell me that they only got about 2 minutes talking time with their lawyer and then their case was called. I’ve also heard my fair share of “there was a different public defender each time I went to court” or “they just seemed to shuffle my case down the line” or “they never went over the police report with me.” I understand the problem of a county employee not having enough time in the day for all of their clients, but that is something you should consider before making that choice.
The service that I am able to offer involves, to be honest, quite the opposite of the public defender’s “dilemma.” Anyone who calls my office at (323) 222-4529 gets me answering the phone. That person also gets a free case consultation, in-person or over the phone, whichever is preferred. That person, if they decide to hire me, gets regular updates about court proceedings, the ability to come into the office to talk about the police report word-for-word, talk about discrepancies, false facts and possible defenses. My clients value the ability that I have to offer “creative resolutions” to their cases, which might involve rehabilitation treatment, volunteer work, mitigation packages, counseling options, etc. My clients value having the ability to pick up their phone, dial a number, and actually get me on the phone, not a secretary who takes a message that never gets returned.
In addition, if you have other cases pending or on probation for, and those might include other courthouses, oftentimes I hear people talk about how their public defender didn’t take those other proceedings into consideration when resolving the case they are handling. That can spell trouble for someone who might be subject to a probation violation or other consequences.
If you have any questions regarding your choice of a defense attorney, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.rosserlichlaw.com, or simply call me at (323) 222-4529. One call can save it all!
20 Feb / 2019
If you are living in 2019 and use a computer (which is obviously you if you are reading this), you know that people use the internet to find all types of products and services. We shop online for clothes, household supplies, cars, and lawyers.
Ask yourself, “if I found myself in a predicament and needed to find an attorney, where would I start?” Well, you would either ask whatever lawyer you might know (family friend, previous attorney you have used for an unrelated matter), or you would go to Google. Once you enter your search into Google, something along the lines of “criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles”, you’ll notice that there are the normal search results, ads on the sides, ads on the top, picture box ads, Google ads, etc. and you might seem overwhelmed. Thoughts of “which one is good?”, “who should I call?”, “are all these claims true?”
Here is what you should know. Nearly all criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles use some form of paid advertising or placement online. Nearly all of those criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles who advertise online, make claims that are, in many instances, not exactly true. You might hear of one calling themselves “top rated defense attorney in Los Angeles”, but rated by who? You might hear one claim that they were “Harvard educated”, but when you check their bio on the California State Bar, there is no record of them obtaining a degree from that school. How about “most trusted criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles.” Well, when you go to their website, there is no mention of what group or organization awarded them with the “most trusted attorney” award.
The truth of the matter is that any lawyer can pay an organization or company to place their name at the top of Google, or present them with a “top rated” plaque or “most trusted” award. Choosing a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles should be a careful and thoughtful process by you or your loved one. If you have been charged with a crime and are looking to pay someone to represent your life and liberty, you should hire someone you can trust. It seems to me that those attorneys you find at the top of the list on Google, making claims that are not substantiated, are starting off on the foot of not being trustworthy. How can you enter into a trust relationship with someone who has been misleading?
What I would recommend is to look at the attorney’s reviews on websites that offer client and peer reviews. Check out Avvo and Yelp to read what the attorney’s former clients and peers have to say about them. Call the attorney directly, my personal phone number is available 24/7 (323) 222-4529, and talk to the attorney about your case. I offer, and will always offer, a free 60-minute case consultation. You should hire someone that you feel comfortable with and that you can trust. You shouldn’t hire someone simply based on how quick their website pops up on Google or based on the claims they make.
Hope this helps, feel free to contact attorney Ross Erlich at www.rosserlichlaw.com or by calling (323) 222-4529.
19 Feb / 2019
A Floyd County, Kentucky man is blaming a spike in local drug use for an odd burglary his own cousin allegedly carried out at his home.
“Who steals a cheese grater?” burglary victim Mason Tackett asked. “He’s got the works…Lysol… he stole an empty bottle of spray,” he continued. “What got me the most was my soap. He stole my soap! Who steals soap!?
Neighbors said they saw Tackett’s cousin Phillip Matthew Hagans carrying items from his house.
“When I finally got down here to the house to look and see what happened the door was standing wide open,” said Tackett. “It look like he was packing up for a yard sale when he come out.”
That is when Tackett confronted Hagans.
“He was lying, throwing his hands. Saying stuff like ‘I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it.’ You know how rogues do,” said Tackett. “Blame it on everybody else.”
Then things got dangerous.
“He did pull a gun on me when I got back around the house,” said Tackett. “I guess he thought I was upset with him.”
Locals and authorities in Kentucky reportedly believe meth use is on the rise in the area leading to an uptick in crime.
Yikes. If you or someone you know have been arrested for a theft crime in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich now for a free case consultation. Theft crimes oftentimes have some kind of explanation – addiction issues, financial struggles or mental health problems. Each of those can, oftentimes, assist in the defense and resolution of your case. If you have been arrested for theft in Los Angeles, it is crucial to consult with an attorney before you speak to law enforcement and/or whichever prosecuting agency is handling your case.
Contact our office today to know your rights and defenses.
28 Jan / 2019
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a top commander’s unmarked police vehicle being involved in a collision and found abandoned in Carson. The commander, who oversees a team of officers that investigate officer-involved shootings, has been assigned to home pending the outcome of this investigation.
The unmarked car was found Friday morning after Carson Sheriff’s station received two calls about the car being abandoned. The car has collision damage and was missing a wheel.
Now, anyone with common sense would probably think there is only one reason why an incident like this would occur – drinking and driving. Of course there may be other explanations – he was distracted, was doing something during the accident that he should not have been doing, etc. But, in my experience, when a car that was involved in a collision is abandoned, typically the driver was under the influence.
If a vehicle is left at, or near, the scene of a collision and no one is there upon law enforcement’s arrival, their ability to prove that a DUI was committed is difficult. They will have a hard time being able to establish the time of driving, whether the registered owner was the person operating the vehicle, they might not be able to obtain any blood alcohol sample, can’t show that the person didn’t ingest any substances after driving, etc. What they are more likely to be able to do is to pursue an investigation for hit-and-run and leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging insurance information.
In order to be convicted of a hit-and-run in California, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you left the scene of an accident, without first identifying yourself, and another’s property was damaged in the accident. A hit-and-run, while not the most serious crime on the books, can lead to a number of unpleasant consequences for a person convicted of one. Not only is it a conviction on your record, you will be faced with fines, probation, 2 points on your license from the DMV and are likely to be responsible for any restitution to the victim.
If you or a loved one has been charged, or is being contacted by law enforcement, for a hit-and-run, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible. There are many options available to you/our side on these cases and many of them begin with how we handle things in the initial stages. Attorney Ross Erlich handles hit-and-run cases in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.
11 Dec / 2018
A 55-year-old man who fled the scene of a vehicle-versus-pedestrian crash in Studio City that killed a musical collaborator of singer Christopher Cross was sentenced Monday to three years formal probation.
The Defendant, who earlier pleaded no contest to hit-and-run driving resulting in death, was also ordered to complete 18 months of mental health counseling as part of the sentence negotiated with prosecutors.
Vehicle Code section 20001, also known as felony hit-and-run involving death or injury, is a wobller in California. That means that the District Attorney may prosecute the crime as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the conduct and facts of the case. A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000 and no less than 90 days of county jail and no more than 1 year in county jail. This is a 2-point violation on your driver’s license and you are also subject to payment of restitution. A felony is punishable by the same fine, 2, 3 or 4 years in the state prison, restitution and the same point violation on your driver’s license.
If you have been contacted by local law enforcement regarding a hit-and-run, or have already been charged or booked on hit-and-run charges, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible. Consult with an attorney before speaking with law enforcement, before walking into court and before you consider pleading guilty because “I did it, what’s the point of fighting the case?” There are oftentimes many ways to resolve these types of cases, including, but not limited to, civilly compromising the case with the victim in order to have your case dismissed and establishing that you did not legally flee the scene of the accident, among others.
Do yourself a favor and consult with attorney Ross Erlich, for free, to learn what options are available to you before you make your first move. Ross Erlich handles hit-and-run cases in Los Angeles county, San Bernardino county, Ventura county, Orange county and Riverside county.
20 Nov / 2018
An elementary school principal has been charged with DUI murder in connection with a head-on crash in Palmdale that killed a woman. The suspect principal was ordered jailed in lieu of $2 million bail while awaiting arraignment next month.
The case is taking place at the Lancaster/Antelope Valley courthouse in LA County and the report alleges that the suspect was behind the wheel of her jeep when it veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with the victim’s car.
If convicted of this charge, the suspect faces a strike conviction and 15 years to life in state prison.
DUI causing death murder charges, or “Watson,” murder, is a way for prosecutors in California to prosecute someone who was DUI and caused a death with second-degree murder. This occurs if the state can prove that the defendant was committed the offense with “implied malice.” Implied malice, in plain English, means that the suspect does not need to intend to cause death, but acted with conscious disregard for human life. Thus, if you deliberately get into your car while intoxicated, drive and end up causing a death, the driving while impaired can be interpreted as conscious disregard for human life.
Typically, “Watson” murders are charged only after someone has had a prior DUI conviction or has attended one of the statewide drinking and driving programs.
If you have been charged with a DUI causing a death or causing great bodily injury, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Ross Erlich handles DUIs in Los Angeles county, Ventura county, San Bernardino county, Orange county and in Riverside county. Additionally, if the facts surrounding the incident look bad, there are some pre-court actions attorney Ross Erlich can share to help improve your case status at the first court appearance.
Remember, if you are convicted of a DUI in California, you are looking at possible jail time, fines, loss of driver’s license, community service, problems with employment and other obligations.
Contact Ross Erlich today for a free case consultation and to stop the DMV from suspending your license.
15 Nov / 2018
Police in Santa Ana are looking for a suspect in a violent attack on a McDonald’s manager after the suspect requested ketchup.
According to police, the suspect entered the back employee entrance of the restaurant and requested the ketchup. When the manager told the suspect that she was not allowed in that employee area, the suspect started kicking, punching and choking the manager. The surveillance footage of the incident shows the suspect banging the manager’s head against a soda machine with her hands around the manager’s neck.
Eventually a man appears from the back entrance and walks the suspect out of the McDonald’s.
The suspect is likely going to be facing assault and battery charges, as well as potential criminal threats and commercial burglary charges. In additional to facing charges for violent felonies, this case has gotten a decent share of publicity locally and prosecutors know that news outlets, and the public, will be watching. What does that mean? Well, it means that they are likely going to want to make sure the suspect faces a stiff sentence and any effort to negotiate or get a lenient sentence will be met by fierce opposition.
Typically, assault and battery charges and even commercial burglary charges can be dealt with by either a civil compromise, a diversionary sentence, probation, or some reduction of charges. Depending on the nature of the assault/battery, the monetary amount of items taken or the type of conduct that occurred, a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can help navigate a sentence that does not result in a conviction, a dismissal, suspension of criminal proceedings or other advantageous results.
If you or someone you know has been arrested in Los Angeles for assault, battery, making criminal threats or committing a commercial burglary, contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free consultation. Remember, don’t walk into court without someone speaking for you.
14 Nov / 2018
With all of the fires that are, and were, devastating California these past couple weeks, it should be pointed out that thousands of the firefighters on the front lines are inmates in California prisons. Many clients facing prison time often request that the trial court judge allow them to participate in fire camp.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) run a large volunteer fire program known as conservation “fire” camp. Inmates are paid $2 a day and $1 a day when fighting an active fire. They also, most importantly, earn time off of their sentences by participating in this program. Each volunteer is evaluated individually to see if they are willing team members who demonstrate nonviolent behavior and are of “minimal custody” status. There are additional steps that the jails take to evaluate inmate requests.
These inmates live in “conservation camps”, and, when there are no active fires, help to clear brush, storm drains/channels and maintain hiking and fire trails. Today, CDCR, Cal Fire and the LA County Fire Department operate 43 adult conservation camps in 27 counties with over 3,400 inmates participating. Many officials of the program cite the cost-savings to the state and the fact that inmates learn co-working skills, firefighting skills and rehabilitation.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in California and is interested in fire camp, contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free case evaluation. Attorney Ross Erlich handles all felony and misdemeanor crimes in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Bernardino counties.
A man riding a bicycle was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident Thursday morning in Van Nuys, with the driver taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Police responded about 3:45 a.m. to Haskell Avenue and Stagg Street and found the victim, said Officer Norma Eisenman, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
The cyclist was struck from behind and pushed up to 40 feet, NBC4 reported. The driver fled the scene and was found about a mile away at Woodley Avenue and Saticoy Street, where he was taken into custody, Eisenman said.
The driver was combative and fought with officers while being arrested and was transported to a hospital with unknown injuries, NBC4 reported.
So, you’re the drive, what happens now? Well, you are likely going to be held on high bail and, in all likelihood, will face charges of felony hit-and-run, resisting arrest and felony dui causing injury and/or vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. All of which are serious offenses.
As discussed in prior blogs about DUIs and hit-and-runs, the technical facts surround the incident are crucial. Did the officer(s) observe you drive? If not, are there any circumstantial facts that would demonstrate driving? What was your blood alcohol concentration? Were you taking any medication at the time of the incident? All of these facts are critical since prosecutors prosecuting DUIs rely on technical facts to prove their case.
It is also critical to contact the DMV within 10 days from the date of incident/arrest to prevent them from automatically suspending your driver’s license and request an administrative hearing.
Depending on the facts of your case, the extent of any injuries to victim(s) and other mitigation factors, punishment could range from no jail and probation to years in state prison and a year-long license (or more) license suspension.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI, hit-and-run or DUI causing injury in Los Angeles, San Bernardino or Orange county, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible. Attorney Ross Erlich can contact the DMV and request a hearing without having them automatically suspend your license and work to suggest steps you may take to improve the outcome in your case before you even go to court for the first time.