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Lomita Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Lomita Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal law is a complex and confusing area of law that becomes even more complicated if you or a loved one is attempting to navigate the process after being arrested. Your freedom may rely on you successfully fighting a system that has decades of experience with arresting and prosecuting Lomita, Californians, putting you at a significant disadvantage before you have even begun. With severe, and potentially lifelong, penalties hanging over your head if you are convicted of a crime, it is vital that you speak with authorities in the criminal justice field.

Criminal defense attorneys are skilled professionals who support citizens after they are arrested for a crime. The attorneys of Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, have over 60 years of combined experience in criminal law. We use our knowledge to protect Southern Californians as they face misdemeanor- and felony-level criminal allegations. Our dedicated team can support you through each step of the process, allowing you to continue living your life as normally as possible as we handle the legal aspects of your case.

Lomita Criminal Defense Lawyer

Common Criminal Law Terms

After you are arrested, you are likely to hear many terms that you have not previously encountered. Legal terms are often specific and isolated, meaning that they do not usually extend outside of legal proceedings. These terms can make the process even more nerve-wracking and confusing. However, understanding some of these terms before you encounter them in court can help you make informed choices about your future. Some terms you are likely to hear during this process include:

  • Discovery: This refers to the procedures that are used pre-trial to gather information and evidence relevant to the case from the other party to assist in trial preparation.
  • Arraignment: Here, a defendant will appear in court, where they are informed of the charges against them and then are given the opportunity to enter their plea to the charges.
  • Objection: This is the legal process where the defense or prosecution takes exception to a statement or procedure. The objection is either sustained (supported) or overruled (not supported) by the judge.
  • Admissible Evidence: This is evidence that is deemed reliable per the rules of evidence and may be considered by a jury or trial judge.
  • Consecutive Sentence: Prison terms for multiple offenses can be served one after the other instead of simultaneously. For example, a sentence of three years and a sentence of seven years will result in a maximum incarceration time of ten years.
  • Conviction: This is a judgment against a criminal defendant, finding them guilty of the accused crime.
  • Plea Bargain: The prosecution and the defense can negotiate for a resolution to a case that generally avoids trial in exchange for a lower charge and/or penalty.

Unfortunately, these are only a few new terms you will hear after your arrest. A skilled defense attorney can explain each new situation that arises, ensuring that you fully comprehend what is happening and your options moving forward. Making informed choices is the most effective way to reach a positive outcome in your case.

Criminal Conviction Penalties

There is a wide range of potential penalties that you can face if you are convicted of a crime. The severity of the punishments depends entirely on how the crime is charged, and one major goal of a defense strategy should be to reduce the charges to the lowest charge level. There are three broad levels of punishable offenses in the California Penal Code:

  • Infraction
    Infractions are the least serious type of offense and often do not result in harsh penalties. Examples include having an off-leash pet and noise violations. Infractions are generally violations of administrative codes, municipal codes, or traffic laws. They do not carry jail or prison time and also do not become a part of your criminal record. This type of offense carries penalties like community service, fines, or points on your driving record.
  • Misdemeanor
    More serious than an infraction, a misdemeanor carries a wide range of more severe penalties. Examples of misdemeanors include disorderly conduct and vandalism. A conviction for a misdemeanor will result in a criminal record and carry a period of incarceration of less than one year. Fines can also be given as well as crime-specific penalties, like registering as a sex offender and losing the right to own a firearm.
  • Felony
    Felonies are the most serious charges and carry the harshest penalties. Examples of felonies include murder and aggravated assault. A felony conviction will result in a criminal record. It also carries a penalty of a year or more in jail or prison as well as fines. Other areas of your life that can be negatively impacted by a felony conviction include your abilities to vote, find housing, be employed, and purchase a firearm.

Although the typical punishments of incarceration and fines are well-known, they are far from the only potential penalties that can result from a conviction. Depending on the type and severity of the crime for which you are convicted, your attorney may be able to negotiate for alternative sentencing options. These options were created in the belief that rehabilitation is a better solution for some offenders than prison. Common alternative sentencing options include:

  • Therapy treatments
  • Electronic monitoring or house arrest
  • Probation
  • Behavioral management programs for impulse control or anger issues
  • Alcohol or narcotics treatment programs
  • Residential or out-patient rehabilitation programs
  • Drug diversion programs

Your attorney should be able to explain your potential options for alternative sentencing programs. These programs can be an excellent way to gain a second chance at turning your life around while staying outside of jail or prison.

Choosing the Right Defense Attorney

There are a plethora of criminal defense attorneys in California, so finding the right attorney for your exact situation can seem daunting. The following are factors to consider while evaluating and contacting potential attorneys:

  • Area of Focus
    It is crucial for the attorney or law firm that you choose to represent you to have experience on both sides of the criminal justice system – prosecution and defense. Although an attorney may list decades of experience, that experience must be in the criminal law field to be relevant to your case.
  • Preferred Communication Method
    There are many routes of communication available between you and your attorney: phone call, email, text, etc. Although each correspondence will generally become a part of your billable hours, it is still important to find an attorney with similar preferred communication types that can respond in your preferred time window.
  • Identify Attorney Discipline or Ethics Complaints
    You have the ability to search for every licensed attorney in the state of California and see if they have ever been disciplined by the California State Bar. If a complaint is substantiated, it can result in formal discipline or disbarring. Although every attorney is likely to see a few complaints against them at some point during their career, being formally disciplined by the State Bar should be considered a red flag.
  • Personal Comfort
    You are likely to spend significant amounts of time with your attorney, so you should feel comfortable while interacting with them. Although not meshing with an attorney is not an indicator of their abilities, it is crucial to find an attorney who you feel you can be open and honest with throughout your case.

Criminal Defense Lawyer FAQs

Q: What Should I Plead at My Arraignment?

A: Your arraignment is a court appearance where you are formally read your charges and will enter your plea. This initial plea should almost always be not guilty. This provides time for an attorney to take your case and examine the evidence against you, then potentially have the charges lowered or dismissed. They may also be able to negotiate a plea agreement.

Q: What Should I Tell the Police If I Am Arrested?

A: If you are arrested, you are legally obligated to identify yourself to law enforcement. However, that is where your obligation to speak ends. You do not have to answer any of their questions and, as soon as you ask for an attorney, their questions should cease. In other words, you should not say anything beyond identifying yourself.

Q: How Long Can the Police Detain Me in California?

A: Although many other states have a 72-hour time limit to release or charge a suspect once they have been arrested, California gives police a 48-hour time limit. California Penal Code § 825 states that a defendant must be brought before a judge within 48 hours of arrest or be released.

Q: When Should I Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney?

A: The most ideal time to speak with a defense attorney is before an arrest. If the police begin asking questions, and you believe that they are searching for evidence to arrest you for a crime, that is the time to contact an attorney. If you are unable to reach out before you are arrested, you should contact an attorney as soon as you are able.

Lomita Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges in California, Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, is ready to defend your rights throughout the process. Our skilled and dedicated team has decades of experience in the criminal law field, translating to knowledge that can help you reach the most favorable outcome for your case. If you believe that you are going to be arrested, or have been arrested, reach out to Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, for an invaluable legal resource that can help find a positive resolution to your case.