California Criminal Defense Attorneys for the LGBT Community

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LGBT Criminal Defense Attorneys

Crimes Listed A-Z

If you or someone you know has been charged or arrested for a criminal offense, it is absolutely imperative that you obtain professional, expert legal help immediately. This can be an incredibly confusing, frightening and stressful time, and it is critical that you have someone on your side protecting your rights every step of the way.

Mounting a defense for any charge should be started as soon as possible to ensure a successful outcome in your case. The member attorneys in our network are experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive California criminal defense lawyers who have experience with fighting criminal offenses, including the following:

Criminal Law is a complex area of practice that requires an experienced legal professional. Criminal charges can involve crimes against individuals, society or the state. Criminal offenses are governed by state and federal laws and also include the laws that pertain to the entire legal criminal process, which can begin with an investigation, leading to an arrest, arraignment, grand jury, pleas, discovery, evidence, pretrial hearings, trials, jury selection, motions, sentencing, and appeals. Criminal law also sets the standard for the punishment of a criminal offense.

The Criminal Process:

The Arrest

After the police arrest someone, that individual is now under the due process of law. Therefore, he is now considered to be the defendant. The arresting police officer writes a report of the incident, and the defendant is then taken to jail. In jail, 1 of 3 things will happen:

  • if the city or district attorney does not file charges against the defendant, he or she will promptly be released from police custody
  • if the city or district attorney files charges against the defendant but posts bail (also known as “bond”), he or she will be released from police custody on the grounds that the defendant must appear in court at a later date for arraignment. The date for arraignment is either decided by the police or the district attorney
  • if the city or district attorney files charges against the defendant but does not post bail, he or she will remain in police custody until the date of arraignment

How a Case Begins

Typically, the arresting officer writes a report at the time of arrest detailing the incident, witness accounts, and possible charges. The defendant does not have the right to view the arrest report, but their lawyers do. This is a crucial reason to always have a lawyer to represent you.

Within 48 hours, the prosecutor then decides whether to file more, fewer, or none of the charges specified in the report. Due to the defendant’s right to a speedy trial, prosecutors are obligated to file charges within 48 hours of the incident, excluding weekends, holidays, and court closure days. If the prosecutor files charges, the defendant will be notified of his or her date of arraignment.

The Arraignment

The arraignment is a court hearing in which the defendant is notified of the charges placed against him and his constitutional rights. If the defendant does not have the means of hiring a lawyer, the court will appoint the defendant one for free.

Generally, the defendant will respond to the charges by entering a plea. Plea choices include guilty, not guilty or no contest.

  • if the defendant responds not guilty, he or she is stating that he or she did not commit the crime. In many cases, lawyers suggest that defendants respond “not guilty” as a strategy.
  • if the defendant responds guilty, he or she is admitting to the crime. The judge will then convict the defendant.
  • if the defendant responds no contest, he or she is not disagreeing with the charges placed against him. The difference between a defendant responding guilty and no contest is that a no-contest plea generally cannot be used against the defendant in the court of law

If the defendant is in custody at the time of the plea, then the court will have the ability to release the defendant, set bail, or send the defendant back to jail.

After the Arraignment

In misdemeanor cases in which the defendant responds a not guilty plea,

  • the defendant can change his or her plea
  • the defense and prosecution share information. This process is known as “discovery”. Because lawyers are required by law to protect witnesses, usually lawyers have full access to case details but the defendants do not.
  • either side has the ability to file pretrial motions. Pretrial motions include canceling the complaint, choosing evidence to be presented during the trial, or dismissing the case
  • lawyers from both sides can attempt to settle the case before the trial hits court

In felony cases, the judge holds a preliminary hearing. In this preliminary hearing, the judge decides whether there is sufficient evidence to ask that the defendant attend the trial. The prosecutor will file a document called “the Information” if the judge decides that there is a sufficient amount of evidence to conduct the trial. The defendant will then be arraigned for a second time. After a plea is entered,

  • the defendant can change his or her plea
  • the defense and prosecution share information. This process is known as “discovery”. Because lawyers are required by law to protect witnesses, usually lawyers have full access to case details but the defendants do not.
  • either side has the ability to file pretrial motions. Pretrial motions include canceling the complaint, choosing evidence to be presented during the trial, or dismissing the case
  • lawyers from both sides can attempt to settle the case before the trial hits court

Setting a Trial Date

For a jury trial for a misdemeanor case:

  • If the defendant is in custody, the trial must start within 30 days of the date arraignment,
  • If the defendant is not in custody, the trial must start within 45 days of the date arraignment or plea, typically whichever comes sooner

What Happens at Trial

Before the trial, the lawyer goes through a process of choosing the jury, known as “voir dire”. During voir dire, the lawyers from both sides ask the jurors a series of questions to ensure that they are fair and unbiased. In addition, both sides have the ability to give an opening statement before any evidence is presented. During the trial, lawyers present various sources of evidence and often bring witnesses to the stand to testify. After all evidence from both sides is presented, the lawyers give their closing arguments.

The Verdict

After the lawyers give their closing arguments, the jury must reach a verdict. If the jury decides the defendant is not guilty, the defendant will be acquitted and released. Once released, the defendant can never be tried again for the same crime. This is known as double jeopardy. A finding of not guilty is not the same as a finding of innocence. Not guilty means that the jury was not convinced that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If the defendant is found guilty, he or she will be sentenced.

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Los Angeles

Pride Legal has a network of experienced, LGBT-friendly criminal defense attorneys on hand to help with any criminal case defense. We can help you find the right lawyer who will listen to you, review all the details of your case and advise you regarding your best legal options. Our member criminal defense attorneys serve the Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County areas, and are committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for their clients. We pride ourselves in our professional commitment to the gay community and the community at large. When you need caring and skilled legal help, look no further than Pride Legal.

If you have been charged with a crime and need an aggressive, talented, and understanding legal professional, contact California LGBT Criminal Defense Attorneys as soon as possible!

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