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Frequently Asked Questions in a Criminal Case

Posted by Vitaly Sigal | Jul 12, 2010 | 0 Comments

As a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney I find that people who are charged with a crime generally have common concerns. While each criminal case is unique and only a criminal defense lawyer who knows the facts of your case can completely answer your questions, I have compiled a list of common questions that many people charged with a crime ask that I feel is helpful.

If you have a specific question regarding your criminal case, feel free to contact SIGAL LAW GROUP and we will be happy to give you a free consultation. CALL 818 325-0570

Q: I have been charged with a crime. Do I need to hire a lawyer?

A: Yes. If you have been charged with a crime, whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is the most important thing that you can do. A criminal lawyer will be able to examine the government's case against and take the proper steps to ensure that your case is resolved favorably.

Q: I was told that I can have a free lawyer appointed for me if I am charged with a crime, isn't this better than paying money to a private criminal defense attorney?

A: No. A public defender is appointed to represent people who are not able to afford a criminal defense attorney. While at first this service is free, later the court can examine your financial records and decide that you owe money for the public defender's services. Further most public defenders, while capable attorneys, will not take the time needed to properly work on a case. This will end up costing you more in fines, possible jail time and missed work. In the end, most people end up saving money by paying for a private criminal defense attorney.

Q: How does bail work?

A: Bail is a deposit of money made with the court to assure that a person charged with a crime comes to court. Usually the bail is posted by a bail bond company and a person pays a premium (usually between 8 and 10%) for this service. Many times, a criminal defense attorney can negotiate a lower premium for a client by calling the bail bondsman on the client's behalf. Further, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to get the court to lower the amount of bail or waive it altogether thereby saving his client and their family thousands of dollars.

Q: Do I have to come to court if I have been charged with a misdemeanor?

A: The answer is generally yes. However, with some exceptions, if a person hires a criminal defense attorney, their attorney can make court appearances for them without a need for the client to be there. This is another benefit of hiring a qualified criminal defense attorney if you are charged with a crime. Rather than spending time in court, which may take all day in some criminal cases, you can go to work and have your criminal lawyer take care of everything for you.

Q: What are the costs of hiring a criminal lawyer?

A: It depends from attorney to attorney. At Sigal Law Group we generally charge a flat fee retainer which covers the work we will do on your case. The amount of the retainer is based on the amount of work that we feel needs to be done to properly handle your case. If we underestimate we will never ask you for more money. Our prices are reasonable and competitive. We also offer payment plans on most cases. Be wary of attorneys who charge too little as generally they will either not do the work required on your case or end up asking for more money later. No matter who you retain, always carefully review the retainer agreement and make sure there are no hidden fees associated with the work. At Sigal Law Group we will never charge you a hidden fee and we honor all of our agreements.

Q: How long can a criminal case take?

A: Depending on the complexity of the case most criminal cases take anywhere from a couple of months to much longer if they are complex in facts and issues. A criminal defense attorney will need to conduct the proper investigation on a case before being able to bring it to conclusion.

Thus, while we understand that most people want to get their case resolved as soon as possible and move on with their lives, it is better to resolve criminal case right than to resolve it for the sake of resolving it. Obviously our client's needs and requests come first. So every case is handled on a case by case basis. We don't stop working on your case until we reach the best result possible!

Q: Should I speak to the police and explain myself?

A: No! One of the worst things a person can do is speak to the police. As a general rule of thumb, if the police have enough evidence to arrest you, they will. If they are asking you questions, that means they would like to make a statement that is incriminating. The only answer that you should ever give the police who are questioning you is “I would like to speak to my attorney”.

It may be beneficial to have a criminal defense attorney speak to the police on your behalf to explain certain facts or other aspect of the case but it is never a good idea to do it yourself. As you hear so often on police shows on TV, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”. Statements made by your lawyer however, are not admissible in court.

The best thing you can do for yourself if the police contact you is to contact and retain an experienced criminal lawyer to work on your behalf.

Q: What is a preliminary hearing?

A: In felony criminal cases, a preliminary hearing is a stage in the proceedings where the government has to show that there is enough evidence against a criminal defendant to proceed further. While the standard of proof is rather low, a preliminary hearing is a great opportunity for a criminal defense attorney to examine the government's case against a person. If a criminal lawyer properly handles a preliminary hearing, it may lead to a positive resolution towards a plea bargain or provide tools to use during trial.

Q: When is it beneficial to me to go to trial on my criminal case?

A: Each criminal case has its own specific facts and circumstances and while some cases are ripe for trial others are not. Only a qualified criminal defense attorney who has done the proper case preparation can advise you as to what is in your best interest. The sooner you can contact a criminal lawyer to assist you, the better your chances will be to win at a jury trial. Thus, calling a lawyer as soon as possible is the best thing you can do on a criminal case.

As a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, these are some of the most common questions that I get from clients. Obviously every criminal case is unique and every person charged with a crime will have their own questions. If you have questions that you want answered from an experienced Los Angeles criminal attorney with extensive experience. Contact a criminal defense lawyer at SIGAL LAW GROUP for a free consultation today. CALL 818 325-0570

About the Author

Vitaly Sigal

Vitaly Sigal Sigal Law Group Owner 355 S. Grand Ave, Suite 2450 Los Angeles, CA 90071 (213) 620-0212 Vitaly Sigal has extensive trial experience and is not afraid to take your case to trial if necessary. From straightforward to complex litigation, Mr. Sigal handles every case with the same i...


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