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San Diego Criminal Justice Attorney

If you’ve never needed a criminal defense attorney before today, relax. San Diego criminal defense attorney Elliott Kanter can help you. With more than thirty years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer, his philosophy is a simple one. Elliott Kanter takes the time to understand every client’s situation and to represent fully and diligently every client’s best interests. The fact is that most criminal cases are decided – before a trial can even take place – through your defense attorney’s negotiations with the prosecutor. Elliott Kanter is dedicated to working for your best interests when you face criminal law charges in the state of California. If that means going to court, he’s ready to do that. With three decades of criminal defense experience, criminal defense attorney Elliott Kanter has built a reputation for legal excellence and an impressive record of success on behalf of his clients.

Some of Elliott Kanter’s practice areas include DUI, domestic violence, theft, sex crimes, drug crimes, and white collar crimes. If you are facing criminal charges in San Diego County, contact the winning attorneys at the Law Offices of Elliott Kanter. A San Diego criminal defense lawyer can give you legal advice and handle every aspect of your case including defending your rights after you have been arrested and negotiating with prosecutors. Contact the top lawyers at our law firm as soon as possible after an arrest to begin work on your case.

California Criminal Court process

If you have been charged with a crime in California, it is important that you understand California’s criminal court process. There are several stages and different times when you will be required to appear in court, and it is essential you have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side when you do. Here is what you can expect if you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in California:

Arraignment: This is when you will first appear in court. You will be formally notified of the charges and your rights. Your attorney will enter a plea on your behalf of either not guilty, guilty, or no contest. By entering a plea of not guilty, you are telling the court that you deny the allegations and are requiring the prosecution to prove that you committed a crime. A guilty plea means that you admit to committing the crime, and the prosecution does not need to prove in a trial that you broke the law. No contest means that you do not admit that you are guilty, but admit that the facts of the criminal complaint are true. Bail may be set at this time, or there may be a separate bail hearing.

Bail Hearing: Bail is an amount of money that you pay as a security to the court that you will return for future court proceedings. Sometimes the court will accept your promise to return without requiring that you pay money. At the bail hearing, you are asking the court to release you from custody while you await trial.

What happens next depends on whether you are being charged with a misdemeanor or felony. If you are charged with a felony, there will be a preliminary hearing, followed by a felony arraignment, and then the pretrial conference. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, the next step will be the pretrial conference.

Preliminary Hearing: At this court hearing, the prosecution is required to show that there is probable cause to proceed with a trial. Probable cause means there is enough evidence that a jury could find you guilty. The prosecution does not have to present all of the evidence that it has against you. If they cannot show probable cause that you committed the crime, the case may be dismissed.

Felony Arraignment: If the prosecution has shown probable cause to proceed to trial, there will be a second arraignment. You will be notified of the charges against you and of your rights. You will be given the chance to enter a plea.

Pretrial Conference: This is a meeting between your lawyer, the prosecution, and the judge. They will discuss if it is possible to resolve the case without going to trial; for example, making a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an agreement that you will enter a guilty plea, typically in exchange for a lighter sentence or the admission will be for a lesser crime than the one you were charged with committing.

Pretrial Motions Hearings: Motions hearings can occur at any stage of the case. A motion is a request that the court rule on a particular issue before trial. For example, there may be a motion to prevent the prosecution from using evidence against you that may have been illegally obtained.

Trial: If no plea bargain is entered or if the case is not dismissed, you will go to trial. You have the right to a jury, but may choose to have your case heard only by a judge. If there is a jury, the first part of the trial is jury selection. In both jury and judge trials, there will be opening statements, the presentation of evidence, and closing arguments. If there is a jury, then there will be jury deliberations. The trial ends with the verdict. The verdict is the decision about whether you are guilty.

Sentencing Hearing: If you are found guilty, there will be a sentencing hearing. This is when the judge informs you of your penalty. You will have the opportunity to present information to try to convince the judge to set a low penalty.

Appeal: If you have been found guilty, you have a right to appeal the decision. An appeal is a request for a higher court to review your trial for errors. It is not a new trial in which you get to argue that you are not guilty. Instead, you are trying to show that the trial court made a mistake in finding you guilty.

What Our Clients Say

My husband & I hired Mr. Kanter to help us obtain a restraining order against John N's constant harassment. With Mr. Kanter's excellent representation & an enormous amount of visual documentation taken to court, we were able to secure a restraining order. Mr. Kanter has prevailed multiple times,on our behalf, as John N. continues to return to court to try & get the restraining order modified. Disgruntled from several court rulings that were not in his favor, John N. found it necessary to write a negative review of Attorney Elliott Kanter. We have been very pleased with all Mr. Kanter has accomplished for us and with the professional manner in which our case has been handled. He is well educated, highly experienced, and very professional.

Linda C.
Linda C.
San Diego, CA

Looking out for your interests

In any criminal case, whether the charge is a violent crime like assault or a lesser charge like marijuana possession, the truth is that having the right criminal defense lawyer can make all of the difference. In a courtroom, only one person is looking out for your best interests – your lawyer. When Elliott Kanter represents you on felony charges or on misdemeanor charges, you’ll know exactly what can happen and how you can help with your own defense. Elliot Kanter will aggressively defend and protect your legal and constitutional rights, and he will advocate tirelessly for justice on your behalf and for the best possible resolution to your case.


Schedule a free consultation

Elliott N. Kanter is also considerably experienced in the field of personal injury law
and he is available to represent you if you have been injured by the negligence of
another person – in an auto accident or any other kind of accident – in the San Diego area. When you need criminal defense representation or an experienced personal injury attorney in or near San Diego, call San Diego criminal defense attorney Elliott N. Kanter at 619-330-5881 as quickly as possible for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.attorney in or near San Diego, call aggressive San Diego criminal defense attorney Elliott N. Kanter at 619-330-5881 as quickly as possible for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Elliott Kanter Scholarship – $500


We are a blessed nation. We live in a land where advanced education is available to all. In America, there are no limits forced upon us. It does not matter where we come from, our future is in our own hands. Still, for thousands of college students, the funds needed to afford them the education they deserve are elusive and sometimes, financial aid is not enough.

The Law Offices of Elliott Kanter wants to help. We have established The 2016 Elliott Kanter Scholarship and any student with financial needs can apply for this $500 scholarship. This is a small way to give back to the community while ensuring bright minds and firm foundations for the future of our nation. The beauty of a scholarship is that the money never needs to be paid back and can be used for any educational need.

Eligibility Requirements

Students that meet the following criteria are encouraged to apply for the 2016 scholarship offer:

  • Applicants must be citizens of the United States, OR they must have a permanent and legal residence in the United States
  • Applicants must have earned an income in 2015 of less than $35,000
  • Applicants must have an active email address and Facebook page
  • Applicants must be currently enrolled (part-time or full-time) as an undergraduate or graduate student

Essay Topics & Submission Types

Applicants must submit a high-quality essay. The essay must be 100% original work, written by the applicant, in their own words.

Suggested essay topics:

  1. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced while pursuing your education and what made it so difficult?
  2. Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
  3. What is the best advice you ever received as a young adult?
  4. If you could ask any single question and get the answer, what would you ask?
  5. What was the hardest decision you made since you began college?

Video Options

A video submission of your request for the scholarship can be submitted instead of a written essay.  The video should be 3-10 minutes long. Submit the video entirely or submit the link to the video host site with your essay. This is optional and not a requirement to be considered.

Video format: (.MP4 OR .FLX OR .AVI OR .WMV OR .MOV)

Winner Selection & Recognition

The winner will be chosen one week after the deadline date. The winner will be notified via email. Check will be sent via United States Postal service.

Application Deadline

Please follow guidelines exactly and review your submission before sending it in.

  1. Complete your essay or video if you are using that option.
  2. Submit your essay or video via email to [email protected]
  3. Include your high school or college GPA.
  4. Type “Scholarship submission” as your subject line.
  5. Your submission must include your essay or video (can provide us with the URL to where the video is housed) name, age, address, and the URL of your Facebook page.
  6. The winner will be notified via email. You will be given specific instructions on how to claim your scholarship award. (Identification will be required).

Essay Directions

Essays must be 100% authentic and your own words.  It should be submitted in PDF or Microsoft Word format (.PDF, .DOC, .DOCX) and typewritten.

Essays are to be typed, single spaced using a 12-point font.

Deadline to enter, October 1, 2016.

Commonly Asked Questions

How many times can I apply?

Each applicant can only apply once.

Do I have to have a high GPA?

While there is no minimum GPA requirement, a GPA of 3.0 or higher is preferred.

How can I check on my application?

Please use email to inquire on the receipt of your application. Once it is received, you simply wait until the winner is announced. Please do not call our office with your inquiry.

What if I do not use email and Facebook?

In order to abide by the requirements outlined, please set up a free email and Facebook account.

Can I apply even if I do not have a strong financial need?

This scholarship is designed to help students that need financial help. The Law Offices of Elliott Kanter encourages all students to take advantage of the financial programs to help in their specific situation.

Can I re-submit my essay?

If you have revised or corrected your essay and would like to resubmit before the deadline, you may do so. Use the same submission instructions listed above, adding the word “edited” to the subject line.

Apply Today!