WHY DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY?
If you have been accused of a crime, one of the first things that come to mind is “Do I need an attorney?”
The simple answer to that is “yes” of course. However, it’s not that simple. For most, this will be the first time they have ever been in trouble. And like most people, they will turn to their friends who have been in trouble in the past for advice. This is very common for people who are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI’s). The problem with this is that the laws could have changed since their friend got in trouble, could have happened in a different court or county, i.e. Los Angeles Superior Court, Metropolitan Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles vs. Orange County Superior Court, North Justice Center in Fullerton, and the circumstances surrounding the arrest may have been completely different with altogether different facts.
What ends up happening is that your friend, although trying to give you good advice has no legal training, and more often than not cannot tell you what you are up against and whether or not your case is fightable.
Then there are the people who think “well since I’m not going to jail I’ll just plead guilty.” This is fine but are you for sure. Again, individuals will talk to their friend(s) who will give them advice, i.e. “don’t worry, you are not going to go to jail” or “you do not need an attorney because you are not going to jail for something like this.” Attorney Jimmy Cha, has spoke to many individuals who has got taken into custody on their first court date because the judge put bail over the individual in order to ensure that he/she will appear in court, or calls from individuals who were facing jail time because the advice their friend gave them was flat out wrong or detrimental to the individuals future.
THE GUILTY PLEA AND HOW IT CAN POTENTIALLY RUIN YOUR FUTURE
Attorney Jimmy Cha and personal injury attorney Joe Stephens have heard many cases where individuals were told by their friends to NOT hire an attorney because they were not going to go to jail. So the individual goes to court by themselves, pleads guilty, pay the fines, do probation, etc. Then a few years down the line when they are trying to apply for their nursing license or real estate license they get rejected because of that guilty plea.
Only a qualified criminal defense attorney can fully assess your case, tell you the potential defenses you may have, the possible ramifications a guilty plea or no contest plea may have on your future, and potential ramifications it may have on your status here, in the United States.
GROUNDS FOR DEPORTATION, DENIAL OF ADMISSION INTO THE UNITED STATES OR DENIAL OF NATURALIZATION
In another example, there have been instances where an individual pleads guilty or no contest at the advice of their “good” friend because there is no jail time involved. Then later down the road, that individual tries to get their citizenship or renew their green card but cannot. If you are being accused of committing a crime, a guilty plea may be grounds for deportation, denial of admission into the United States, and may even be grounds for denial of naturalization or renewal of your green card.
Only a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney can thoroughly evaluate your case and tell you what you are up against. Asking a friend might give you an idea but it can be wrong. Moreover, a friend cannot go over the facts of the case with you and tell you what hurts you or helps you. There are many factors that go into evaluating a case, and unless your friend has the right training or experience, which I doubt unless they are an attorney, they cannot thoroughly tell you what you are up against.
Attorney Jimmy Cha has spent countless years studying and practicing criminal law. He was one of the few individuals who graduated from his law school with a certificate in criminal law studies, externed at the Orange County Public Defender’s Office and Juvenile Defender’s Office, and his practice is dedicated solely to criminal defense, defending those people who are accused of committing a crime.
DO YOU KNOW THE LAW
Do you know the law? This is very important when going to court. Knowing the law helps you understand what you are up against, and what options you may have other than going to court and pleading guilty. The law can be very complex and complicated at times. A qualified criminal defense attorney can explain this to you in plain language and break it down so you can understand exactly what you are up against.
THINGS AN ATTORNEY CAN DO PRIOR TO YOUR COURT DATE
Besides evaluating your case and going over your charges with you, hiring an attorney early on has many benefits.
DISMISSAL OF CHARGES – A qualified attorney may be able to have your charges dropped prior to your court date depending on the type and nature of the charges.
REDUCTION OF CHARGES – In certain cases, an attorney may be able to reduce your charges prior to going to court.
PREPARATION – Hiring an attorney early on not only ensures that your rights will be protected but allows an attorney to properly plan, go over, and strategize over what is the best method in dealing with your case. Whether your case is big or small, you want to make sure your attorney has enough time to properly prepare themselves for your case.
Once you are arrested, you will be given a date to go to court. The court you will need to appear at will depend on where you were arrested. For example, if you were arrested in the Fullerton area you will need to go to North Justice Center in Fullerton, while if you were arrested in Koreatown you will need to go to Metropolitan Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles. And just like the court you will need to appear at will differ based on where you were arrested at, the type of offers you will get will depend on which court you will need to appear at as well.
Because offers differ from court to court, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to maneuver through the different court houses. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to hire an attorney because he is cheap. Often times this means the attorney does not specialize in criminal defense and just wants to make a few extra bucks or the attorney is inexperienced. You wouldn’t go to a foot doctor if your tooth hurt, why hire a personal injury attorney when you are facing criminal allegations?
After careful review of your case, and appearances in court, if your attorney determines that it would be best for you to take an offer from the District Attorney or City Attorney, the next step is damage control. Damage control simply means trying to get you the best offer possible by negotiating the terms of your offer with the prosecutor so that there may be a resolution that is agreeable by both you and the prosecution. It is during this time that your attorney should present evidence that is favorable to you so that he may be able to get you the best deal possible.
If you are facing criminal allegations, a lot is at stake. Not only can it affect your criminal record but it can affect your future, job, reputation, and even your freedom. You owe it to yourself to get the best representation possible. Contact the Law Office of Jimmy Cha today for a free consultation.