Criminal Defense Attorney in San Francisco, CA
Seek Legal Assistance for Your Criminal Case
If you are facing criminal charges due to being accused of a crime, consider turning to an experienced criminal defense attorney San Francisco, CA clients trust from The Morales Law Firm for legal assistance. Regardless of what you are being charged with, we will work tirelessly for your protection. Seeking a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco CA may help prevent you from serving an unnecessary length of jail time, immense fines, and an unjust verdict.
We started our business protecting those who are wrongly accused in our community more than 25 years ago. Within that time we have proudly established a respected reputation for professional yet compassionate legal services. We do not suggest going through a criminal defense trial without proper legal representation. Doing so may result in catastrophic damage to your finances, freedom and future. We can offer advice and emotional support for the challenges you may face during the litigation.
In our eyes, a client is innocent unless proven guilty within the court system. We acknowledge that our clients are likely going through a turbulent time and will do what we can do take the weight off your shoulders. When you hire a criminal defense attorney from The Morales Law Firm, we can speak up in your defense and answer any questions or concerns you may have along the way.
Common Types of Criminal Defense Cases
- Drug offenses
- Violent crimes
- Domestic violence
- Drunk driving
- White collar crimes
- Theft crimes
- Sex offenses
We understand the immense stress you may be under and the impact this criminal charge against you may have on your future. At The Morales Law Firm, we may defend your rights, work for your fair trial, and build a solid foundation in support of your innocence in front of the jury.
After performing a thorough investigation of your case, we may uncover inconsistencies that can result in evidence being thrown out and no longer held against you. It is important you go over every detail with your attorney, so they can potentially find flaws in the prosecution evidence of what happened. Even the smallest of details may change the case outcome.
If immigration issues are a component of your case, we can still offer you legal assistance. We can use tactics to aid in preventing you from deportation and can work around the clock to help you stay in this country. The last thing you need during this process is to be removed from your home and family.
What To Expect From Your Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are the subject of a criminal case, you are likely stressed and anxious. The last thing you need is to guess what comes next, whether from the court system, from the people charging you with a crime, or from your legal team.
Criminal defense attorneys at The Morales Law Firm are invested in their clients’ rights to a fair trial. In other words, you have nothing to fear in regards to your lawyer. Your criminal defense attorney in San Francisco CA is in your corner. Read on to learn what you can expect from them.
Your Attorney Will Visit You
Whether you are being held in jail in relation to your crime or you are free and available to meet anywhere, your attorney will make the effort to visit with you. He or she will make it his business to put your best interests first.
If you are jailed, your criminal defense attorney in San Francisco CA will meet with you and advocate for your needs ranging from any accommodations you need in jail to your defense during the trial.
You Can Be Honest With Your Lawyer
When you meet with your attorney, don’t feel intimidated or guarded. It is your lawyer’s job to hold your confidence and discretion.
Don’t be afraid to tell your lawyer your entire story. Your attorney-client privilege protects you and your word from any legal implications. The more honest you are with your lawyer, the better they can represent you.
Your Attorney Will Craft Your Defense
Once you speak to your criminal defense attorney in San Francisco CA, they will get to work crafting your defense. He or she will look for legal loopholes, evidence or lack there of, and technical strategies that will work in your best interest.
Your lawyer’s ultimate duty is to defend you and clear your good name. Before they can do this, your team at The Morales Law Firm have to create a narrative and strategy to present to the court.
Your Lawyer Will Speak for You
Remember that once you tell your lawyer everything relevant to your case, you don’t have to say a word. You do not have to speak in court. In fact, if you do break your silence, anything you say can be used against you during your ruling and sentencing, as outlined in The Miranda Rights.
The best plan is to allow your lawyer to speak for you. Anything you want to say to the judge, jury, or even law enforcement should be said through your legal representative. He or she can frame your position in the best legal light without implicating you further.
Three Things You Need to Know if You Are Facing Criminal Charges
Being charged with a crime can be an overwhelming experience, particularly if it is your first time facing criminal charges. The best decision you can make after being charged, or if you think you may be charged in the future, is to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Francisco CA who can help you understand your rights and obligations. Although you might be eligible for court-appointed legal counsel, you may still wish to seek affordable representation from a local law firm like The Morales Law Firm. In the meantime, consider these three things:
- You have guaranteed rights.
Criminal charges are brought against you by the government. Typically, these will be brought by a prosecutor on behalf of your state. When you are accused of a crime by the government, you have several important Constitutional rights that provide you some protection. For example, you are guaranteed access to an attorney, even if you cannot afford to pay one out of your own pocket. You also have to right to remain silent, meaning that you are not required to give a statement to the prosecuting attorney, the judge, or any investigating police officer. You should take advantage of your rights and strongly consider requesting access to an attorney before making any statements regarding the incident leading to your arrest.
- Timing is important.
The San Francisco CA criminal justice system moves on a tight timeline and can be extremely rigid. This means that if you have a hearing scheduled, you must appear in court on that day, with your attorney if you choose to use one. If you are arriving at court from your own home, you should plan to arrive early and make sure that you allow yourself time to find your assigned courtroom. Failing to appear for a hearing or trial can result in harsh penalties, including additional charges.
- Preparation is key.
Make sure that you are well-prepared for any court appearance that you have. Know what you plan to say and practice it with your criminal defense attorney if you are going to give a statement. Make sure that you have given your attorney all of the facts regarding the incident. Be honest and thorough with your attorney. Being prepared for your hearing can ensure that the court is able to make a ruling, potentially shortening the amount of time that you will have to wait before your case is resolved. Also, consulting with an attorney well in advance of your assigned hearing date may ensure that he or she is able to consider your defense carefully.
The criminal justice system is just that: a system. There are many rules in place to keep the system moving efficiently. This may seem like a difficult burden at times, but there are also many rules that are meant to protect your rights and make sure that justice is served. Talking to a criminal defense attorney you trust will help you navigate this system and may ease the stress of facing a criminal charge.
Timeline of a Criminal Case
When you have been charged with a crime, it can be a very frightening situation. It often is even more intimidating when you don’t have the understanding of just how the criminal justice system works in California. Not knowing what to expect and how long the whole process will take can definitely make the whole situation even that more stressful.
A misdemeanor criminal defense attorney from The Morales Law Firm can evaluate your case and explain to you what to expect during this legal process.
The first step in the State criminal justice process is the arrest. In order to arrest a person suspected of a crime, law enforcement must have conducted a thorough investigation in order to document the suspect’s activities connected to the crime. In other words, an arrest must be made on more concrete evidence than a “hunch.” After arresting the individual, police are required by law to read them their Miranda rights. This law clearly states that the person has the right to remain silent as to not incriminate themselves and they have the right to a criminal defense attorney San Francisco, CA.
The arraignment is the court appearance where there is a formal reading of the charges against the individual who was arrested. This is the part of the process where they will enter a plea of not guilty or guilty. It is in the best interest of the charged individual to have a misdemeanor criminal defense attorney present during the arraignment to ensure their rights are protected against the prosecutor and police.
Although we are addressing misdemeanor charges in this post, it is also helpful to know that if the charges against the individual are felony charges, there would have been either a preliminary hearing or grand jury hearing where the prosecution is required to present the evidence against the individual and to ask that charges be issued against the suspect. In a preliminary hearing, it is the judge who makes that decision. In a grand jury hearing, it is the grand jury who decides.
A person who has been charged criminally may have the choice of pleading guilty in a plea bargain deal, which would avoid the need for a trial. It is the criminal defense attorney San Francisco, CA and the prosecution who enter into these negotiations. If a plea bargain cannot be reached, or if the defendant isn’t interested in one, then a trial date will be scheduled.
Before the trial actually takes place, your misdemeanor criminal defense attorney San Francisco, CA will spend the necessary time needed for trial preparation. This preparation may include contacting witnesses, reviewing all the evidence obtained from the prosecution during the discovery process, and coming up with the best strategy for a not guilty verdict.
During the trial, the prosecutor will present their evidence. Once they have rested their case, the misdemeanor defense attorney will present their case. Either a judge or jury will decide the verdict. In order to find a defendant guilty, the judge or jury must believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the he or she committed the crime.
When both sides have rested their case, the jury will deliberate to decide what the verdict should be. Once reached, that verdict will be read in the courtroom. If the defendant is found not guilty, they are free to go. If they are found guilty, there will be a sentencing hearing scheduled at a later date for the judge to determine what the sentence should be.
What Legal Rights Do You Have if You Are Arrested?
Whether it is because of a terrible mistake, willful disregard or a false accusation, getting arrested is never a pleasant experience. This situation can be embarrassing and damaging to your reputation and future outlook. Still, no matter what crime you’ve been accused of committing, you do have legal rights. These can protect you from unfair treatment and help assure that you’ll get a just trial.
The Right to Remain Silent
Anyone who knows anything about Miranda rights recognizes this protection. It is the first sentence the officer should say to you when you are formally placed under arrest. This means you don’t have to answer questions or say anything about yourself or the circumstances that led to your arrest until you have an attorney with you. Unfortunately, too many people waive this right or ignore it. Another part of the Miranda reading states that “anything you do or say can be used against you in a court of law.” Realize that your actions at this time could incriminate you or lead to further charges. Don’t say a word at this time.
The Right to an Attorney
It is critical that you have a lawyer present with you at the time of questioning. Your lawyer will advise you what to say and what questions to answer or ignore. An experienced criminal justice lawyer understands the arrest process and how you should act during this time. The lawyer will also make sure that the investigators don’t ask inappropriate questions and that your rights and interests are upheld. If you don’t have an attorney or can’t afford to hire one, you have the right to ask for a public defender to represent you.
The Right to Decline Being Searched
Unless the arresting officers have the legal right to do so through a search warrant, they can’t search you or your home without your permission. You are at liberty to deny them this request. Make sure you are calm and polite about making this refusal. Getting emotional will only increase your chances of law enforcement officials detaining you.
The Right to Ask Officers to Let You Leave
If the interrogation following your arrest does not lead to a formal charge, you may ask the officers if you are free to go. If there are no criminal charges filed against you, there are no requirements for you to stay.
Of course, you never intend to be in a position where you are arrested. However, some preparation and foreknowledge can protect you.
Let a Criminal Defense Attorney Help Your Case
Please call us today to schedule an appointment with a San Francisco criminal defense attorney from The Morales Law Firm. Your first consultation is free, so do not hesitate to speak with a member of our legal team to go over the charges being held against you. The sooner you find the right criminal defense attorney San Francisco California can provide for you, the sooner you can receive legal guidance and support for your case.
If you are facing a criminal conviction that resulted in the victim suffering damages, we suggest contacting a criminal defense attorney San Francisco, California residents trust from The Morales Law Firm as soon as possible. You may have to deal with both a personal injury lawsuit and criminal trial. This can feel like an added consequence when you are already facing the repercussions of a criminal conviction. It’s important to obtain legal counsel from a qualified attorney to help you navigate between these two legal entanglements because there is a significant difference between criminal and civil court.
The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Cases
Following a criminal charge, the victim may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against you. It’s important to understand that there is a significant difference between these two types of cases because they take place in two very different ways.
Criminal cases are brought forth when the state or municipal prosecutor decides to press charges against the accused. Although the victim may play an active role during the process, they are not responsible for the charges.
In civil cases, such as personal injury lawsuits, the victim is the person who brings forth the claim. In order for a victim to bring forth a civil case against the defendant, there does not need to be a criminal conviction. In some cases, there may not even be a criminal charge at play.
Defense Strategies for Criminal Cases
Depending on the circumstances related to the crime, there are several defense strategies that we may implement when building your case. As we may discuss with you, there are two approaches to take. The first, is you did not commit the crime. The second would be that you did commit the crime, however, should not be held accountible for your actions. If we choose the latter, then it will be important to emphasize your good character, lack of criminal background, explain why you shouldn’t be held accountable, listing other factors that contributed to the incident, and more.
Here we have listed the various defense strategies commonly used in criminal defense cases:
Lack of Proof
Remember that you are technically innocent until proven guilty, regardless of what is said by others. The burden of proof rests with the prosecution, meaning they have to show why you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As your defense attorney, we do not have to necessarily prove that you were innocent, as the key is establishing a reasonable doubt that you did not partake in the crime. The prosecution will have to share evidence they are using against you, and then we will work to discount it.
If you were in a physical altercation because you were seriously worried for your safety, then you may have grounds for a self-defense strategy. Sometimes, law enforcement arrives at the scene of a physical altercation and only witnesses a brief moment that looks like you are the one to blame. To fight these charges, your lawyer will have to show why you acted with self-defense, and what the other party was doing to cause fear of imminent danger to you.
An alibi is proof that you were not present at the location and time that the supposed crime occurred. For instance, if the crime was committed on Lombard street in San Francisco at 10pm in front of a bar, and you have a receipt of a gas station purchase 40 minutes away in Oakland at that same time, then it is not possible that you were involved in the crime.
Using consent as a defense strategy may be appropriate based on the details of the incident, but it may not be the path to an acquittal. We can let you know whether the consent strategy can work in your favor after a consultation.
Under the Influence
If you were arrested for driving while under the influence, using this defense strategy won’t be helpful. But, if you committed another kind of crime while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and can prove you were not in your right state of mind because of it, you may face charges of a lesser severity or a shortened sentence.
Unfortunately, sometimes law enforcement are so desperate to make an arrest that they coerce or induce a person into committing a crime. For instance, if an officer approaches you on the street and forces you into buying drugs from them, then you may not receive a conviction on account of entrapment.
You may hear in news and in television shows about someone claiming insanity as their defense strategy. It isn’t actually used as often as you may imagine, and should only be utilized seriously and truthfully for a case, otherwise it may not result in the outcome you hope for. For those who are medically insane, evidence from a healthcare professional will be required to prove to the judge that the crime was driven by mental instability. You may also have to enter a rehabilitation program.
Questions To Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney
You’ve been arrested on suspicion of a crime, and you now need a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, CA, such as The Morales Law Firm. Here are four important questions to ask before hiring a lawyer to defend you.
What Is Your Success Rate in Cases Like Mine?
You want to know that your criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, CA, is up to the task of successfully trying your case and getting you exonerated of all charges. Simply asking how many similar cases the lawyer has tried is not enough — you want to know their success rate. How many cases like yours has the lawyer seen, how many times they have had charges dropped or reduced, how many have gone to trial, and how many have they won at trial?
What Would Your Strategy Be in My Case?
While you know every case is different, if the lawyer has seen enough cases similar to yours, they should be able to give you the broad strokes of how they would handle your case. They may call expert witnesses to refute the testimony of the state’s witnesses, file motions to have evidence suppressed, and recommend whether you testify on your own behalf or not.
How Do You Bill Clients?
This is a two-pronged question. The first part asks how they charge, and the second, how much they charge. It’s important to have an answer to both questions so you know what you’re getting into with a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, CA, such as The Morales Law Firm.
Lawyers may charge by the hour, on a retainer fee, or on a per-case basis. In other words, you may have to pay them as you go along, give them a lump sum up front based on how many hours they think they’ll spend on your case, or give them a lump sum based on the type of case you have. They may also have additional charges for going to trial, so make sure you ask about that as well.
Who Will Be Handling My Case?
Busy lawyers don’t always have the time to work on every case that comes into their office. They may have other attorneys, paralegals, or interns handling portions of your case. One huge benefit in this instance is cost. Paralegals, junior attorneys, and interns likely charge far less than the lawyer spearheading your case.
However, there are some drawbacks to this scenario. With multiple people working on your casee, there are more opportunities for miscommunication and the potential for matters to be overlooked or confused.
Criminal Cases that Result in Personal Injury
Sometimes, personal injury cases stem from a person engaging in illegal, criminal activity. As a result, a person convicted of a crime may also find himself or herself contending with a personal injury lawsuit as well. When the accused participated in illegal activity that resulted in bringing harm or even death to another person, they might be held liable. Examples of criminal cases that a CA criminal defense attorney in San Francisco may have represented in the past include:
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Sexual assault
- Assault and battery
Essentially, if a person’s negligence results in the injury or death of another person, a personal injury claim or lawsuit may be a viable option. It’s important to note that the claimant will have to prove that:
- There was a duty of care
- There was a breach in the duty of care
- The claimant was harmed as a result
- The claimant incurred damages from the accident
Personal injury and criminal cases are two separate cases. However, when a criminal conviction is present, it may be easier to prove a personal injury.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Arrested
When you’re accused of a crime, it can seem like your entire world is turned upside down. You’re worried about the possibility of serving jail time and how this may affect your future job prospects. However, it’s important to remain calm and avoid making mistakes that could potentially hurt your case. Here are some common mistakes you shouldn’t make.
Giving a Statement to the Police
If you are innocent of the crime you are charged with, you might think that it could not hurt to talk to the police. After all, you didn’t do anything wrong. However, it is important to remember that the police are not on your side and may try to twist your words. They may work very hard to find information to use against you. To avoid jeopardizing your case, politely tell the police that you don’t wish to speak to them without an attorney.
Not Telling Your Lawyer Important Information
The criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, CA you hire to represent you will want to know all the details about your case. If you leave out important information, your attorney will not be able to represent you to the best of his or her ability. While you might feel embarrassed about telling your attorney certain details, it is important to speak up. Your attorney will not judge you.
Discussing Your Case with Family and Friends
When you are facing something as stressful as a criminal charge, it is understandable that you may want to lean on a close family member or friend for support. However, it is actually not such a good idea to talk about intimate details about your case within anyone but your lawyer. If your family members and friends are subpoenaed, they will have to tell the court what you told them.
Attempting to Contact the Alleged Victim
If you did not commit the crime you are accused of, you may be tempted to contact the alleged victim. You might think that you can clear up a misunderstanding and all will be well. However, doing this can make things a lot worse. If the police find out that you tried to get in touch with the alleged victim, they might argue in court that you tried to intimidate the victim.
When You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have already endured the criminal courts for charges brought against you by the state, you may also be forced to face a civil trial as well. The victim’s attorney will be fighting for maximum compensation for their client. You will want to ensure that you are legally protected by an attorney who understands aspects of criminal defense in addition to civil matters such as personal injury lawsuits.
Facing criminal charges can be especially stressful when also facing a possible personal injury lawsuit it can only add to the burden. For more information regarding how a San Francisco criminal defense attorney in CA from the Morales Law Firm can be invaluable to the charges you are faced with, contact us now for immediate support.
“Christopher Morales is a highly , expert criminal defense attorney. He treats us with dignity and respect, understand and make informed decisions about our son case. I am highly – recommend Christopher to people.”