Criminal Defense FAQs

Below are questions that we are frequently by potential criminal defense clients. If you have questions about your case, call us at (619) 231-1883 to speak with an attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Defense

What should I do when I’m arrested?

When you are arrested, it’s important to exercise your right to remain silent. With the exception of providing your basic information, explain that you will not speak to law enforcement officers until your criminal defense attorney is present. When you are allowed to make a phone call, call a San Diego criminal defense lawyer or someone who will contact one for you.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

In California, crimes are categorized by how serious they are. Infractions are the least serious type of crime and include things like traffic tickets, jaywalking, and minor drug possession charges, which are punishable by fines. A misdemeanor is a step up from an infraction and is punishable by up to a year in jail. Examples of misdemeanors include petty theft, public intoxication, and reckless driving. A felony is the most serious type of crime and is punishable by more than a year in prison. Crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery, and arson are classified as felonies.

Do I need a criminal defense lawyer or can I represent myself?

Defending yourself in a criminal case is never recommended, as it’s nearly impossible to do so successfully. There’s a big difference between reading a law book and working with a criminal defense lawyer who has years of legal training and experience. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you need someone who will step up and aggressively fight for your rights and freedom.

How much does it cost to hire a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego?

The cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer depends on the complexity of the case. Generally, attorneys charge more for defending felonies than misdemeanors because they require more preparation and court appearances. Most criminal defense lawyers charge an hourly fee and request a retainer payment up front before they start working on the case. At the Law Office of Elliott Kanter, we review a client’s initial documentation about his or her criminal charges to determine what the appropriate legal fee should be.

What is a plea bargain?

A plea bargain is an agreement made between a defendant and a prosecutor. In a plea bargain, the defendant pleads guilty or “no contest” in exchange for the prosecutor to recommend a lighter sentence or reduce the charges to a less serious offense. It is the role of a criminal defense lawyer to negotiate with the prosecutor and present you with an objective view of your case so you can decide whether or not to accept a plea bargain.

What is the role of the prosecutor?

A prosecutor acts as the government’s attorney and seeks justice on behalf of the people of California. It’s the prosecutor’s job to meet the burden of proof in a criminal case. This means the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the crime for which he or she is charged with criminal intent. It’s also the role of the prosecutor to convince the jury or judge that the defendant is guilty by using evidence and testimony.

What should I look for in a criminal defense lawyer?

When looking for a San Diego criminal defense lawyer, the experience is critical. Narrow your search to attorneys who specialize in defending the accused. A lawyer who works on cases similar to yours will have developed the expertise needed to build a solid defense strategy, negotiate with prosecutors, and provide you with sound legal advice. Your criminal defense lawyer should be familiar with the local court system in San Diego and be respected by judges and prosecutors. Look for an attorney who has a solid track record of successfully defending clients faced with criminal charges. Above all, make sure your criminal defense lawyer is someone you can trust.

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