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.

Arraignment

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.

Pre-Trial Conference

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.

Trial

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.

Appeal

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.

Post-Conviction Remedies

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.

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 rosserlich@gmail.com, www.rosserlichlaw.com, or simply call me at (323) 222-4529.  One call can save it all!

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.

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.

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.

The actor who played “Mr. Feeny” on the ABC sitcom “Boy Meets World” thwarted an attempted burglary at his San Fernando Valley home on Tuesday.

William Daniels and his wife were in their home Saturday night at about 9:20 p.m. when someone tried to kick in the back door, as was reported.

Daniels jumped up, turned on the lights and scared off the intruder, TMZ reported.  Police believe the attempted burglary at Daniels home was a random act and not tied to the string of recent celebrity break-ins across the city, TMZ reported.

Home burglary is a serious offense in Los Angeles.  It is even more serious if the home was occupied at the time of the burglary or attempted burglary.

Burglary (California Penal code 459) is defined as “entering any residential or commercial building or room with the intent to commit a felony or a theft once inside.”  A person does NOT need to actually commit the felony or theft once inside, it is sufficient that they simply entered with the required intent.

First-degree burglary is the burglary of a residence.  Since someone’s home is their “castle”, the law punishes, more significantly, the burglary of a residence.  First-degree burglary is a felony that is punishable by 2-4-6 years in state prison.  Additionally, a conviction for first-degree burglary counts as a “strike” for California’s Three Strikes law.

There are a number of reasons why you, or someone you know, may not have committed an actual burglary or may be guilty of some other, lesser, charge.  If you did not have the required intent to commit a theft or felony while in the structure, if you were mistaken as to where you were entering, if you were trying to retake items that were lawfully owned by you.

If you or someone you know has been charged with burglary, contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Remember, facts of the case are important and they always differ between each case.  No two cases have the same set of facts, so call us today for your free case consultation.   Ross Erlich handles burglary cases in all courts throughout Southern California, including Airport Court, Van Nuys Court, San Fernando Court, CCB, Pasadena Court, and San Bernardino county

New LAPD Chief Michael Moore is considering a plan that would allow thousands of homeless peoples to get rid of their old bench warrants as part of a larger effort to reform a system that, in all honesty, is broken.

Getting rid of all of these old bench warrants on homeless persons would help end a vicious cycle that starts with homeless persons not able to, let’s say, pay a fine.  Then a bench warrant is issued when they don’t show up to court to pay the fine.  Then, ultimately, they come into contact with law enforcement and are arrested on their outstanding warrant for failure to pay a fine.  That means they go into custody (jail). get brought into the court, still can’t pay the fine, and are usually released right then and there since the underlying crime or violation is not serious at all.

This cycle explained above costs thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars.  It will also ease the pressure on the court system, jails, and police stations which are overwhelmed with the hundreds of daily arrests for old warrants.

Many of the original crimes homeless persons are cited for are “quality of life” crimes – sleeping on sidewalk, public urination, low-level drug possession.  These are usually simple fines, but can add up after court costs are imposed and become more of a problem once they go into warrant status.

Criminal bench warrants can be an issue for you if you haven’t shown up for court or have failed to return to court to show progress or completion of a court-ordered program.  Typically, people are placed on probation following a conviction and, usually, must complete some type of obligation(s) to the court.  This can range from something as minimal as pay a fine up to regular court appearances to show progress in a domestic violence program, alcohol program, and current restitution payments.  If you fail to show up to one of those appearances, you are looking at, potentially, increased punishment for the probation violation, which can be greater than what you originally were obligated to do.

Furthermore, there is always the chance the judge wants to set bail if you have failed to show up for court or it has been a long time since your warrant was issued.  A good criminal defense attorney can discuss with you ways in which to potentially avoid any bail and strategies to minimize any probation violation before even walking into court.

If you or someone you know has a bench warrant in Los Angeles county, Orange county, San Bernardino county or Ventura county, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as you can.  Judges are happier when the least amount of time has elapsed since the warrant has been issued.

Attorney Ross Erlich handles all criminal bench warrants, including those for battery, dui, drug possession, petty theft, hit-and-run, assault, suspended license and domestic violence.

An L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy has been shown to have faked evidence and this was kept secret from the public and suspects in his cases for years.

In 2003, deputy Jose Ovalle was working his shift at a county jail.  While on shift, a fight broke out between gang members at the jail, resulting in one person getting stabbed multiple times.  Deputy Ovalle was responsible for collecting the evidence in this assault case and, when he realized he could not find the bloody shirt from one of the suspects, he took a clean shirt, spilled taco sauce on it to look like blood, and photographed it for evidence.  Ultimately someone observed him doing this, reported it to the supervisor, and deputy Ovalle was handed a 30-day suspension, only having to serve 10 days of that.

Ovalle’s past has been kept a secret from prosecutors, judges and, jurors and defendants for the past several years, even though he was a witness, or even the arresting officer, in many of these cases.  Deputy Ovalle took the witness stand in 31 cases before the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office found out about his prior misconduct.  This created problems since the DA’s office then had to go back to all of the cases deputy Ovalle was involved in and make “sweetheart” deals or drop criminal charges altogether.

This story, sadly, is not uncommon.  Police misconduct is routinely kept hidden by California’s police privacy laws.  Even though the U.S. Supreme Court requires prosecutors to inform criminal defendants, and their lawyers, about an officer’s wrongdoing, the state’s laws prevent the prosecution from directly accessing the personnel files of officers.  Thus, California places the burden on defendants and their attorneys to prove to a judge that an officer’s record is relevant.  In other words, the burden is on us, the defense, to prove that a police officer’s record needs to be looked into.  It is not something that is disclosed to us automatically, or even after we conduct a hearing.

Additionally, there is a secret list of Sheriff “problem” deputies that have been involved in misconduct that is kept by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  The new Sheriff, Jim McDonnell, wanted to disclose this list (containing approximately 300 deputies) to prosecutors, but the police union sued in court to stop this.  The California state Supreme Court will be deciding soon whether the Sheriff’s Department, and other law enforcement agencies, can tell prosecutors if a police witness has a record of serious discipline.

Some people somewhat jokingly ask me, “how do you sleep at night?”, referring to my work defending people charged with committing crimes, sometimes very serious ones.  Well, this article summarizes my usual answer to them.  A criminal defense attorney’s number 1 job is to zealously advocate on behalf of their client to the best of their ability.  This means leaving no stone unturned, fighting for their client as if it is themselves and making sure the government is doing their job correctly and playing by the rules.

When it comes to getting facts straight, the one thing attorney Ross Erlich does with each of his clients is to sit down and go over the police report and arrest narrative to make sure what the officer is saying is correct and/or totally accurate.  Oftentimes there are small discrepancies which we need to address with the prosecutor.  Other times there is a need to file a motion with the court informing the judge we believe there may be some misconduct on behalf of the officer(s) involved and request disclosure of any misconduct on the officer’s personnel record.

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is essential that you hire an attorney who will do these things on your behalf.  If you read more about the story above, you’ll find that hundreds of defendants whose case started with Deputy Ovalle plead guilty and many might not have even thought to ask about his misconduct.  Contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free consultation and to find out what other tools we have at our disposal to ensure your case is handled correctly.

As of January 1, 2018, California courts are offering pre-plea diversion in certain drug cases.  The benefit to this pre-plea diversion, over the more traditional “formal” diversion, is that the defendant never enters a plea and, thus, is never actually convicted of anything.  They can earn a complete dismissal of the charges without suffering a conviction on their record.

Prior to this change, and for about the last 10 years, California offered a diversion called deferred entry of judgement or “DEJ.”  In the older DEJ diversions, the defendant had to plead guilty, sentencing was continued for 18 months, and the defendant would complete a drug-treatment program.  If the defendant successfully completed a drug-treatment program and had no other arrests for the diversion period, the defendant could withdraw his plea of guilt, enter a not-guilty plea and the court would dismiss the case.

There was, and still is in cases not eligible for pre-plea diversion, devastating consequences for some defendants.  First off, the federal government does not recognize diversions as a dismissal.  Thus, for purposes of your FBI criminal background, even if your case was ultimately dismissed after successful completion of DEJ, the federal government still views that as a conviction.  If you are an immigrant who is here illegally, or have limited status in the country, the conviction under federal law means that you are subject to deportation, denial of naturalization or exclusion from re-entry into the country.  Additionally, people who hold certain licenses or security clearances could lose their jobs and/or licenses as a result of this conviction.

All for a minor possession charge.

With the availability of a pre-plea diversion, there is no longer any conviction on your record.  The defendant simply waives his right to a speedy trial for up to two (2) years and the case remains “pending” while the defendant completes a drug-treatment program.  After completing the program, paying court fees and avoiding any new arrests, the case is dismissed and the defendant walks away without any conviction, ever, on his or her record.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact attorney Ross Erlich to talk about your rights and options with the court.  You might be eligible for pre-plea diversion, veteran’s court or a mental health diversion.

Ross Erlich handles drug charges in all courts throughout southern California, including the Airport Court, CCB Courthouse, Pasadena Court, Burbank Court, Van Nuys Court and the San Fernando Court.

MTV’s Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham is facing possible jail time if convicted of the battery and resisting an officer charges filed against her.  She is scheduled to be arraigned in the Airport Courthouse on August 13 on those two misdemeanor charges.

The charges stem from an incident in which she allegedly hit a security guard at the Beverly Hills Hotel and then resisted arrest when she was asked to leave the hotel.  Officers arrived to the hotel based on a call that Abraham was arguing with hotel guests and had been asked to leave the location by hotel security.  The security officer alleged that Abraham struck him in the face with her forearm, grabbed his ear and pushed him in the face as he attempted to prevent her from re-entering the hotel.  Beverly Hill Police officers noted that Abraham exhibited signs of intoxication.

If convicted on both counts, Abraham faces up to 18 months in jail.

Attorney Ross Erlich has handled numerous battery and resisting arrest cases.  A lot of them are a result of people who are under the influence, out partying, at a club or bar, and simply take things a little too far or don’t follow instructions from law enforcement.

A battery charge is something that takes into account any and all unwanted touching that is done in an offensive way.  Thus, someone doesn’t have to beat someone up, break a bone, cause bleeding, etc, to be convicted of a battery.  All that is required is some physical contact in an offensive manner.  In most cases, the maximum penalty for a batter is up to 6 months in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.  If you commit a batter against a peace/police officer, it can be charged as a wobbler (a felony or a misdemeanor).

In order to be charged with resisting arrest, you must resist, delay or otherwise obstruct a law enforcement officer, or emergency personnel, while they are performing, or trying to perform, their official duties.  This, as one might imagine, is typically charged when people resist officers putting handcuffs on them, push officers away, and giving a false name to police officers.

While attorney Ross Erlich’s job is to fight to protect your rights and liberty, the best advice to give someone when confronted with security and/or police officers is to be as courteous as possible and follow directions.  There is no need to provide any statements or to incriminate yourself, but if asked to leave somewhere or to stop doing a certain activity, cooperation tends to lead to no charges getting filed, or, at least no resisting arrest charges.

If you or someone you know has been charged with battery or resisting arrest in the Airport courthouse, Van Nuys courthouse or the Downtown CCB courthouse, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  There might be ways to civilly compromise your case and get charges permanently suspended.


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