At The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman, we understand what is at risk for you. Whether this is your first criminal charge or your third, our attorneys work tirelessly to challenge the facts of the case. In some instances, our attorneys can have a client’s charges reduced or dismissed even before a trial begins. We investigate the steps of the legal process taken from the moment of arrest through the entire trial to be sure that your rights are upheld, evidence was properly collected, and you receive a fair trial. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to criminal defense. Because of that, we handle each case uniquely so that we can provide our clients with top representation. We put your needs first.
An arrest or even an accusation against you for a criminal offense can leave you feeling lost and filled with questions. You are immediately thrust into the criminal justice system without anyone by your side to help. You may be provided an attorney as guaranteed by your constitutional rights, but these public defenders may not be able to devote the necessary time and energy to your case.
While providing a great service, public defenders often are backlogged with an overwhelming number of cases that prevent them from giving your case the attention it deserves. A public defender can often be the easier route for many as deciding on a criminal defense attorney can be complicated, but easy does not always mean better. Selecting the right attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
When choosing a criminal defense attorney, you should consider the following questions:
- Do they have experience with the type of charge you are facing? There is no shortage of criminal defense attorneys, but not all can handle every type of criminal case. Many specialize in specific areas of criminal defense, such as DUI or drug possession. When considering the nature of your charges, you want to find an attorney with the knowledge and experience that can build a strong defense. When they have familiarity with your charges, they are able to put their experience to work right away. If your case is their first experience, there may be a learning curve that could cause steps to be missed.
- Are they going to be responsive to your needs? You are going to have many questions along the way about your case, the progress of investigations, and what you should be doing to prepare. While it is unreasonable to expect that you are an attorney’s only client, you should be able to rely on timely responses and thorough answers to your questions. An attorney with accessibility and responsiveness will help you feel at ease throughout the process and make you feel like you are a part of your defense. You are the one facing the charges, and the outcome will impact you.
- Are you comfortable with the attorney? You may not gain much from searching online for an attorney, but your initial conversation can show you a lot about the direction of your case. Just as you want to rely on the timeliness of their responses, you should also feel comfortable with speaking to them about your concerns and even about the facts of your case. Honesty is a strong part of any criminal defense, and if you feel the need to hide information or facts from your attorney, then they are not able to provide you with the thorough defense you need. Having a strong rapport with one another allows you to have open and honest communication.
- Do they exhibit characteristics such as compassion or empathy? Facing criminal charges may leave you feeling fearful, overwhelmed, confused, and a myriad of other feelings that may keep you up at night worrying. When your attorney understands how you feel, they are more likely to speak in a way that helps you stay calm and focused. Your emotions may steer your mind away from the facts of the case, causing you to say or do something detrimental to the progress of your defense. Understanding how you feel, helping you to process those feelings, and keeping you focused on the goal are the marks of a great attorney.
- Does the attorney show a track record of success? An attorney’s case log is a paper trail that speaks to their abilities. While you may feel comfortable with them, their approach, and their knowledge, if they are not successful in the courtroom or in negotiating with prosecutors, they may not be the right choice for you. Taking a look at online reviews and other public records data can help you decide if they can help you. A successful attorney is more likely to be able to provide what’s needed for your case. Additionally, search for a strong litigator both in and out of the courtroom.
These questions certainly don’t encompass all you should look for, but they can help you determine which attorneys are experienced, compassionate, and honest.
While it may feel like much has been taken away from you since an accusation, you are still entitled to the rights and privileges provided by the U.S. Constitution and the state of California. There are specific rights designed to protect those who are facing the criminal justice system to ensure that charges filed against them are just and that the case is built on facts — not circumstance. These rights are granted to everyone who faces criminal charges regardless of their age, race, sex, gender identity, religion, or any other personal identifier. This, too, is a protected right.
If the accusation against you comes with a formal arrest by a police officer, it is important that you understand the rights afforded to you. Both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments will be your first line of defense. The combination of both of these amendments forms what is more commonly known as the Miranda Rights, and law enforcement is required to them say to you upon your arrest:
- Under the Fifth Amendment, you are protected from self-incrimination. You are not under any legal obligation to speak with law enforcement at the time you are arrested. However, if you choose to speak with law enforcement, you need to understand that any information you provide may be used in your criminal trial against you. Whether you already have an attorney or are going to seek the assistance of one, most will tell you to exercise this right until you have the opportunity to speak to them.
- Under the Sixth Amendment, you have the right to seek the counsel of an attorney regardless of your financial status. If you choose to have an attorney provided to you by the state, you will be assigned a public defender who will handle your case. While public defenders are the most cost-effective way to have representation in your criminal case, as discussed, they may not be able to provide you with the attention or time your case deserves. Still, having their protection is better than having none at all. If you are arrested, you should request the presence of an attorney before any questioning. From the moment you request this service, law enforcement must cease all questioning.
For over 20 years, The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman has been gaining experience with all types of criminal defense cases. Each case is unique, but the experience gained over the years allows our office to put together a defense that can improve the chances your case has of success. Our experience has allowed us to practice with cases in the following areas:
- Violent crimes. Charges that are considered violent crimes range from assault to armed robbery to homicide. These types of crimes are often met with the harshest penalties that could result in a number of heavy fines or extensive prison sentences if you are convicted.
- Drug offenses. While California has become less strict on many of its drug charges, there are still a number of criminal offenses you could face, both at the state and federal levels.
- White-collar crimes. Many white-collar crimes involve fraud or deception and leave the greatest impact on the victims. In these types of cases, there are often businesses or corporations involved, so charges could extend beyond just one person. When the crime is financial, not only could you and your business be held responsible for compensation and prison terms, but it could cost you personally, which lays a heavy burden on your family’s financial future.
- Sexual offenses. These are often considered the most heinous of crimes causing prosecutors to more aggressively seek full convictions. Whether the crime is against an adult or a minor, convictions for these types of crimes extend beyond fines and prison terms. These crimes can follow you for a lifetime as you will likely have to register on the sex offender database. This can severely impact your ability to get employment and housing in the future.
- Driving under the influence (DUI). One of the most common offenses, these crimes extend beyond driving under the influence of alcohol. California may have a progressive leniency on drugs, but you can also face DUI charges for operating a vehicle under these influences as well. DUI charges are serious because it indicates that in addition to operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner to yourself, you also put others at risk for injury or death. DUI charges are progressive in nature, so each charge carries with it added penalties. You could encounter fines, jail, or prison time, and you could also eventually lose your privileges to operate a motor vehicle.
This list certainly does not encompass all that our team handles. Our offices can defend most misdemeanor and felony charges. No matter how big or small you feel your charges are, the reality is your charges will impact your future, so we put our clients first in every case.
When considering the charges against you, there needs to be an evaluation of the evidence to support the charges. Without proper evidence, your charges could be reduced or dismissed. The burden of proving you did or did not commit the crime is not up to your defense. Rather, it is up to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty.
Defense teams work to poke holes in the prosecution by introducing evidence that contradicts what they present. Before evaluating the evidence, your attorney will review the details from your side and compare that with what the prosecutor will bring forward. Common evidence includes:
- Police reports. These reports are often the first stop for prosecution and defense teams. These reports are supposed to be objective and leave the perspective of the officer out of it. They are supposed to report only the direct observations and facts of the complete interaction with you prior to arrest, during the scene investigation, and through processing. If the report extends beyond these parameters, is inaccurate, or is misleading in any way, then it could be challenged and create doubt in the prosecution’s case.
- The arresting officer’s testimony. This may seem redundant because the arresting officer filed the police report, so it is logical to conclude that they should be the same. However, if what the officer says does not match the police report, these inconsistencies could provide an opportunity to cast further doubt on the case against you.
- The testimony of witnesses. Witnesses can be strong evidence for both the prosecution and the defense. When it comes to challenging a witness in a criminal case, their reliability is generally the focus. While the defense seeks to challenge the prosecution’s witnesses, they will try to do the same for any that are presented in your defense, such as an alibi.
- Physical evidence. Physical evidence can range in type. This could be presented as fingerprints, DNA, blood tests, or physical items that attempt to link you to the crime or the location of the crime. However, physical evidence can also prove you were not present or did not commit the crime in question. Both sides will attempt to challenge the validity of physical evidence.
- Any available photos or videos. Memory recall is a wonderful tool. Though proving the credibility or trustworthiness of a witness is significant, it is certainly hard to argue with photos or videos that corroborate one’s story. Most challenges to photos and videos will come from both sides and discuss what the picture or video doesn’t show rather than what it does. Still, these can be powerful tools.
Both the prosecution and defense teams will use the same types of evidence to try and prove their case. That is why attorneys with experience litigating cases in the courtroom could be a strong addition to your team. They can look for what can help your case, and they also have the knowledge to find what can disprove the evidence presented against you.
While much of the defense is in challenging the evidence the prosecution puts forth, there are many other ways to build a strong defense against criminal charges. Your attorney should review the circumstances of your case to develop a defense that has the greatest chance of achieving the outcome you hope for. Common defenses for criminal charges include:
- There is an alibi. If you were not present in the location at the time of the crime, then an alibi is going to be the strongest defense. An alibi is a person, video, or photograph that can prove you were in a different place at the supposed time the crime occurred. Other forms of alibis include documents such as receipts. The most crucial part of this defense is being able to prove the time, so there must be ways to track the timing of your alibi.
- It was an act of self-defense. For some criminal charges, you may be able to prove that you needed to respond in a way that was potentially illegal because it was to protect yourself or others. This defense is strongest when you can prove another person put you or those close to you at risk for emotional or physical harm, bodily injury, or death. However, in this defense, the courts will often look to see if the act of self-defense was reasonable in terms of the threat.
- There was a mistaken identity. While an alibi can prove you weren’t present at the time of a crime, faulty witness statements or improper police reports could lead to mismatched details that lead law enforcement to accuse you. However, with the right evidence from your defense team, it could not only help you but also provide an opportunity for law enforcement to apprehend the right person.
- There were improper procedures by law enforcement. The rights that protect you throughout the criminal justice system work together with the procedures that must be followed during the course of investigations. The evidence must be free of tampering, witnesses must give their own accounts of events without influence, and the way you are questioned must be done in a particular manner. If there is a breach in these procedures that could call into question the validity of the evidence presented against you, there is a strong chance it will be inadmissible.
- You were suffering or are suffering from a mental illness. A temporary lapse in judgment can happen to many people, but if you are affected by long-term negative mental health, it could provide a defense for your case. If you were under or suffer from mental anguish, mental illness, or in some cases, even intoxication, you could use this as a defense in your case.
- Someone coerced you into committing the crime. This defense requires evidence that someone else provoked or forced you into committing the crime. This is often done with the threat of violence or blackmail.
These common types of defenses are useful in many criminal cases. However, they do not represent the entirety of the options available to a defense attorney. The circumstances of your case will determine the direction your attorney will go. The most important step in creating the defense that should be used in your case is the facts of the evidence against you and your honesty with your attorney. Without all the correct information, your attorney cannot effectively defend you.
To encourage open and honest communication, attorneys share an attorney-client privilege — they do not have to reveal information shared between both parties. If you are facing criminal charges, it is to your advantage to trust that your attorney has your back. This starts by selecting the one that is right for you.
Q: What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?
A: The job of a criminal defense attorney is to provide legal representation for those who face criminal charges. To do this, they are tasked with investigating the facts of a case and building a defense that can help their client. During the judicial process, they counsel their clients on the ideal course of action at different times and are authorized to speak on behalf of their clients.
Q: How Do I Know If I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?
A: If you find yourself charged with a crime, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony, you should consider seeking the help of an attorney. Not only do they serve as counsel to you and provide a defense in your case, but they can negotiate with the prosecution for a reduction or dismissal of your charges depending on the evidence and circumstances surrounding your case.
Q: What Makes a Good Criminal Lawyer?
A: There are many great criminal defense attorneys in the Los Angeles area, but you should look for an attorney who is experienced, qualified, recommended, honest, a great communicator, and persistent. They should also have integrity. These qualities can help to boost your confidence that your attorney is taking the needs of your case into your account and that they understand you are who is ultimately impacted by the outcome of your case.
Q: What Are the Three Major Categories of Defense Attorneys?
A: The three major categories of defense attorneys include assigned counsel, contract systems, and public defenders. An assigned counsel is privately assigned to defend a client. A contract attorney agrees to take on the case of a client who seeks out their services. A public defender is assigned to the defendant by the court system.
Q: How Much Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Cost in California?
A: The cost for an attorney in California is going to depend mostly on the circumstances of your case. The types of charges you face could entail more or less work for an attorney, and that can impact the overall costs you could incur. The average cost varies from one attorney to the next, so you should inquire about costs during your initial conversation.
No matter what type of criminal charges you may be facing, you have a lot on the line. Whether you are accused for the first time, or this is your second or third charge, you should have an attorney on your side you can trust and who has your interests in mind. At The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman, our attorneys do just that. For over 20 years, we have been putting the needs of our clients first while gaining experience in multiple different areas of criminal defense. Because of this, our attorneys are ready to answer the questions you have about the charges against you, the potential penalties you face, and what defense options might help your case the most.
If you have been charged with a crime, don’t feel like you are left to face it alone or that you need to rely on a public defender. Work with a team that is attentive to your needs and puts in the work your case deserves. Our team is aggressive and puts the requirements of your case first. Contact us today, and let our team start fighting for you.