Answers from Our Knowledgeable Attorneys
At The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson, our attorneys have extensive experience handling criminal defense, DUI, juvenile delinquency, and juvenile dependency matters. We know that these are complicated issues in which many questions can arise. As such, we have provided answers to common questions.
If your question is not answered here or you want to discuss your case further, call us at (925) 900-5330 or contact us online.
Common Criminal Defense Questions
What's the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
Generally, in California, crimes are charged as misdemeanors or felonies. The difference between the two levels is that felonies are considered more serious than misdemeanors. As such, felonies carry harsher conviction penalties than misdemeanors. For instance, depending on the nature of the offense, misdemeanors can be punished by up to 6 months or up to 1 year in jail. On the other hand, a felony can be penalized by anywhere from 1 year to life in prison. In the most severe felony cases, a court can impose the death penalty.
When Do Police Need to Read Me the Miranda Warning?
The Miranda Warning is a statement police give that inform suspects of their rights: the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney present. The warning must be given before a custodial interrogation begins. That means if the police have arrested someone they believe committed an offense and they plan on questioning them, they must ensure that the suspect knows that they do not have to answer questions, and if they do, whatever they say may be used against them in their case.
Can Police Conduct a Warrantless Search or Seizure?
Typically, before law enforcement officials can arrest an individual or look through their person or property, they need a valid warrant. However, in some circumstances, they can commence a warrantless search or seizure, such as when evidence of a crime is in plain view or when they see someone committing an offense.
How Long Does a Crime Stay on My Record?
If you’ve been arrested for or convicted of a crime, it can stay on your criminal record forever. This can adversely impact you because the information is a matter of public record, meaning anyone can access it, including potential employers and landlords. Thus, even after you’ve completed your sentence (paid all fines, completed your incarceration term, etc.), your criminal past can haunt you. However, in some cases, you can pursue legal vehicles, such as expungement, to have the information wiped from your record.
Can a Conviction Be Challenged?
In short, yes, a conviction can be challenged. The process for contesting a trial court’s judgment is called an appeal. However, not all cases may qualify for this option. To appeal your conviction, you must file a motion with an appellate court, stating that a legal error occurred in your case that affected the outcome. The appellate judges will review the original court record to determine whether your assertion is true. If the judges decide that some prejudice impacted your case, they may send it back to the trial court. If the appeal is not decided in your favor, the conviction will stand.
What Happens If I Can’t Adhere to a Probation Condition?
I have PTSD/mood disorders. As of June 1, 2015, a judge has said I need to find independent living by this date. My parents do not want me to leave because there are old, and I help them with everything around the house; otherwise, they will have to go into assisted living. The crime I was convicted of has nothing to do with the living arrangements. How can we avoid this from happening?
Were you represented by an attorney? Is the crime you are on probation for related to the care of your parents in any way? Is the judge aware of the need for you to care for your parents? A letter from their doctors would be helpful. You can generally ask the matter be put on calendar and request modification of your probation. You should, however, be prepared to present information to the Court showing that your parents need you. Separate from that, you can hire an attorney if you do not already have one and challenge the legality of the probation condition.
I Have a Misdemeanor Organized Retail Theft Charge, and I wasn’t the One Stealing. Will It Be Hard for It to Be Dropped?
I was with my sisters, and they told me to bring a bag in the store to them, but I didn't know it was a buzzer bag, and they were caught stealing, and I got in trouble too
Unless Texas has some strange law, you would have to be aware you are involved in illegal conduct to be guilty. However, you may easily be disbelieved. If you have not committed nor participated nor knowingly assisted any crime, you should not plead to any charge. A good idea would be to hire a lawyer if you can afford one and start to develop your defense immediately. You should be very detailed in putting together your case, including statements from your sister and anyone else actually involved.
In some cases, others involved may turn on you and try to cast blame. It is important to put the facts together right away, including surveillance video if it's available. If you can afford an attorney and investigator, you should get to it quickly if you are being charged.
Common DUI Questions
What is a DMV Hearing?
California DMV hearings are separate from court proceedings that may also be associated with your case. The DMV hearing is an administrative function done through the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The hearing determines what happens with your driver’s license privileges. A DMV hearing is different from a court case, which will be handled separately. In order to protect your driving privilege, you must request a DMV hearing as well as deal with the Court case.
What Can Happen to My Driver’s License?
The DMV hearing results will determine the outcome of your driver’s license status. There are specific consequences based on the details of your case. If you do not request a hearing or if you lose your hearing, your license will be suspended for a certain period of time. The DMV is responsible for the administration of your driver’s license. License suspension is the action that is taken if you do not request or lose California DMV hearings. The length of the suspension will depend on many factors, including whether this is the first offense or you have priors.
What Can I Do If I Need to Drive to Work?
In some cases, and under certain conditions driving privileges can be given to allow you to drive related to your job. If this is the case, you will be provided with a provisional license. You must adhere to these provisions, or your driver’s license will be revoked. An attorney can help you secure a provisional license following a DMV hearing.
Is a DMV Hearing Automatic?
No. You must request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. Failure to request a DMV hearing will result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Your attorney can request the DMV hearing and will attend the hearing with you and/or on your behalf. The hearing takes place to determine whether any action is warranted to be taken against your driver’s license. Failure to request a DMV hearing will result in the immediate suspension of your license.
Do I Need An Attorney For A DMV Hearing?
Yes. An experienced attorney will present your case and fight for your driving rights at the DMV hearing. Our experienced attorneys understand the process and know the best way to assist in this important hearing in order to fight for a favorable outcome. DUI hearings are important; don’t face them alone.
What are the DUI Penalties in California?
First DUI Offense:
- Jail Sentence (up to 6 months)
- Fines beginning at $1,000
- Suspension of Driver’s License for 6 months
- Attend Driver’s Program
Second Offense (if within ten years of previous offense):
- Up to 1 Year Jail Sentence
- Fines beginning at $1,000
- Driver’s License Suspension for 2 years
- Attend Driver’s Program
Third and forth offenses include additional punishments and longer jail sentences. In the case of an accident with injury or death, other penalties may apply.
What Happens in the Criminal Court?
DUI charges are considered criminal charges and will be addressed through a criminal court case. During the case, you will have a chance to present your defense. It is essential to attain an experienced DUI attorney to provide the best possible defense to the criminal charges. Many things will be considered and addressed by your attorney during the pre-trial proceedings and, when appropriate, at trial. The case may result in either a dismissal, an acquittal, a conviction, or a reduction to a lesser offense. Your attorney will fully investigate the case, review all the details, and assist in making an informed decision in determining the best way to proceed.
Will I Get My Driver’s License Back If I’m Acquitted?
If the Criminal Court Case results in an acquittal, the administrative suspension of your driver’s license will be reversed, and your license will be reinstated. If, however, you have been found guilty of lesser charges, your driving privileges may still be affected. Under some circumstances, obtaining a reduced charge can lead to setting aside the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. The suspension of your driver’s license by the DMV’s administrative proceeding is separate from your court case and may still be in effect despite a reduction of charges against you or dismissal of your court case.
How Can I Learn More About California DUI and DMV Hearings?
The most important thing to do after being arrested for DUI is to meet with and retain an experienced DUI attorney. Your attorney will review your case and provide you with answers to your specific questions. Your lawyer will also explain the process, allowing you to understand what to expect throughout and make informed decisions along the way. Contact our law firm today for a consultation.
What Happens When a Person Is Cited for a DUI and the DA Has Lost the Blood Test Results?
This is my second DUI citation. It's been 3 months since my test results were missing. I appeared at every court date. Now I have been placed on probation without an arraignment. I have an alcohol ankle bracelet that is very painful. I am restricted from driving, must report to probation, and subject to warrantless searches and seizures. Further, I am subjected to random drug testing. Is this constitutional?
I'm wondering if you've confused being on "probation" with being on "supervised release". In Sonoma County the judges often like to add conditions to an O.R. Release. This sounds like your status based on the information you've provided. An O.R. Release is an alternative to posting bail. If you post bail, the Court cannot place additional conditions on your release. Your history and case facts will play a role in addressing your out of custody status going forward. You need to conduct an attorney regarding your custody status. Regarding the district attorney losing your blood. If that is actually what has happened, you may be able to get your case dismissed, but that will depend on the specific facts of your case and the circumstances leading to the loss of the blood. You should contact a competent DUI lawyer right away.
Common Juvenile Delinquency Questions
Does My Child Have to Talk to Police?
If your child is arrested, they have the right to remain silent. That means they don’t have to give statements to police when under custodial interrogation. Your child can waive this right. However, if they’re 15 years of age or under, they must consult with a lawyer before doing so. There are only limited circumstances in which an officer can question a child 15 or younger without the minor first speaking with an attorney.
Do Police Need My Consent to Question My Child?
If the police arrested your child, they do not need your consent to begin a custodial interrogation. However, your child can politely refuse to provide answers to protect themselves from giving self-incriminating statements that may later be used against them in court. They may also request to speak with you before being interrogated.
Will My Child Go to Jail?
If your child has been accused of a juvenile crime, whether they go to jail depends on the facts of the case and if your child is tried as an adult. Generally, crimes involving minors are handled in juvenile court, which focuses on the minor's rehabilitation. Possible outcomes may include probation, community service, placement in a foster home or with a relative other than the parent, or confinement in a juvenile detention facility. However, if your child is accused of committing a serious offense, such as robbery or kidnapping, they can be tried as an adult. In that case, they could be sentenced to jail or prison.
Is My Child’s Juvenile Record Permanent?
If your child was involved in a juvenile delinquency matter, the information about the arrest and/or the sustained petition will be placed on their criminal record. In some cases, the court automatically seals the record, such as when your child completes the term of probation and they weren’t found to have committed a serious offense. In other cases, your child must ask the court to seal their record. They must qualify for this relief. When a record is sealed, the information about the offense is no longer publicly accessible.
Common Juvenile Dependency Questions
Why Is a CPS Social Worker Investigating Me?
A social worker from Child Protective Services will investigate you if they have received a report that you have or are abusing or neglecting your child. They are trying to determine whether or not the allegations are substantiated. Depending on what they find, the social worker may close the case without taking action, refer you to parental services, file a petition with the court for further action, or remove your child from your home.
Can a Social Worker Question My Child Without Me Present?
When a social worker investigates a claim of abuse or neglect, they will question all members of the family unit, including your child. Your social worker can go to your child’s school and question them without your being present and without your consent. However, if they talk to your child when you’re not present, they must tell you that they did so.
What Happens If My Child’s Been Removed?
If a social worker determines that allegations of abuse or neglect are substantiated, they will remove your child from your home. The social worker may place your child in foster care or with another relative. This is why it’s crucial that you provide them with your family members’ information; otherwise, your child may be placed with someone they don’t know. If your child has been removed, you must attend various court hearings and may be required to complete a range of services to seek to have your child returned to you.
When Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for a Juvenile Dependency Case?
The moment you learn you’re being investigated for child abuse or neglect is when it’s necessary to retain an attorney. Anything you say or do at the beginning of your case can impact how the matter progresses and is resolved. It’s crucial that you consult with a lawyer who practices juvenile dependency, as this is a very special and unique area of the law.
I Am 16 Years Old and I Want to Leave Home Because I’m Being Mentally and Physically Abused? What Can I Do?
She talks down on me, calls me all types of bad names. She punches on me, hits me in my face, and now she is trying to send me away before Christmas. I work, go to school. She doesn’t want me to do well in life. She takes everything from me. I’m tired. What can I do?
Get a job and a place to live, file for emancipation with the court (forms online). Or find someone you want to live with and have them apply for guardianship. These are alternatives if CPS contact is not what you plan to do.
Can I File a Civil Suit Against the Man Who Was Convicted of Molesting My Daughter?
He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison on may 24th.
Yes, you can file a civil suit.
What Should My Son Do?
My son, who is 25 years of age, has been accused of child abuse. Our family has never experienced anything like this so this is even tough to talk about. This occurred when our grandson was 3 months old. My wife and I have temp custody of our grandson, who is now 22 months old. He is fine now. He suffered a skull fracture. He had other healing fractures. Now fully recovered. My son, who is 25, was indicted on 1st degree assault, interrogated, and confused by detectives as he had never been through anything like this before. His wife at the time completely blamed our son.
Our son was arrested and spent 3 weeks in jail. Set out on bond. Now meeting with his public defender who states he has no defense and wants him to take a deal of 2nd degree assault. Can you make any suggestion?
Were studies conducted re medical? Vitamin D? Age of healing bones? Has a qualified radiologist examined the x-rays? How did they decide it was him and not the wife? What about another caregiver? Those cases take careful work and second opinions from qualified doctors/experts. Has his lawyer seen all of the medical records? Is his lawyer qualified and up to date on the possible differential diagnosis for such fractures? There are a lot of questions to ask.
The answers provided above merely touch the surface of the nuances of criminal and juvenile law. We invite you to contact our attorneys at (925) 900-5330 to have a more in-depth conversation about your specific case.
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