Orange County Criminal Attorney
Here at Orange County Criminal Attorneys Law Firm, we believe the tried-and-true axiom: “none of us are as strong as all of us”
A successful defense requires many, many parts. Skill, experience, dedication, passion, zeal... just to name a few. Here at Orange County Criminal Attorneys, we understand the multifaceted nature of a good defense, and we strive to offer you the very best.
We are an experienced law firm; Mr. Vincent Ross, chief trial attorney of counsel, has over 29 years of experience practicing solely in criminal defense. With over 4,000 cases under his belt, Mr. Ross supplies the necessary skill and experience to ensure that NOTHING goes unaddressed.
That is not all. Aside from our wealth of experience, we also understand the importance of personalized attention, which produces dedication, passion, and in turn, favorable results. We give every one of our clients the personal email and cellphone numbers of our attorneys. We are available to answer questions at night, during weekends, or even during the holidays. This is because we appreciate the importance of client care.
Our dedication to our clients, in turn, help our clients to be absolutely prepared for their day in court. We will know your needs. We will know your concerns. We will know what YOU want.
In short, we want to combine experience and skill with dedication and zeal; this way, we can secure the best possible outcome in every case. A great defense is a the fruit of many parts, and our goal is to give our clients all the necessary parts for a successful day in court.
Personal Appearances; not just an “appearance attorney”
Knowing our clients is great and all, but it means nothing if the attorney is not in court and putting the information to good use. Here at Orange County Criminal Attorneys, unlike other firms, we promise that we will make the appearances ourselves. The attorney will go to court prepared, and armed with all the information necessary to zealously defend your rights. You will KNOW the attorney who appeared on your case, always.
Unlike other firms, we are not a “mill.” We don’t just hire some random “appearance attorney.” We are in court personally, ready to defend our clients.
Don’t settle; the difference between an appearance attorney who knows nothing about you, and a dedicated attorney who has personally reviewed your file is enormous. Let the attorneys here at Orange County Criminal Attorneys show you the difference.
The 2 Prongs of Criminal Defense
There is a tremendous amount of literature in popular media about the field of criminal defense. Sadly, much of the literature is filled with misinformation.
As attorney Thomas Wang explains, “there is 2 general prongs of criminal defense: quality control and damage control.”
As defense attorneys, we are, first and foremost, the quality control of the criminal justice system. In other words, we hold actors within the criminal justice system accountable. A biased judge? We must push hard to preserve our clients’ right to a fair trial. Overzealous or overcharging prosecutor? We have a duty to litigate tirelessly to ensure our clients are treated fairly. Lying cops? It is our duty to point out any inconsistencies, and separate facts from fiction.
Here at Orange County Criminal Attorneys, our attorneys appreciate our duty as the quality control of the criminal justice system. We will research, investigate, and litigate any unfairness against our clients. We will not get pushed around. We will not just take what the prosecutor says at face value. We will do everything we can to ensure that our clients receive the highest quality of justice they deserve.
Even assuming that all of the government’s actions are proper, there is still another important aspect of criminal defense: damage control. This prong of criminal defense does not focus on guilt or innocence; instead, we ask “what is the fair outcome given the circumstances?”
Custody in jail or prison is always an option for the judge, but often not the best option. For example, a person may merely need a rehab program, or an anger management class. Perhaps the defendant has already learned his lesson, and doing some community service would be sufficient punishment. There exists a wide range of sentencing options for a judge in any given case.
But how would a judge decide? That is where damage control comes into play. Here at Orange County Criminal Attorneys, we understand that every client will have different needs and concerns, and we will do everything in our power to help our clients address them. We will argue, passionately and skillfully, that our clients deserve leniency. We believe that no one should be defined by their worst moment; a lapse in judgment DOES NOT mean that you are a “criminal.”
How does a criminal prosecution actually work?
A common misconception is that the victims or witnesses to a crime are the ones who “press charges.” That is NOT how a criminal prosecution works. Here in California, the only people vested with the power to initiate a criminal prosecution are duly deputized prosecutors; generally, attorneys from the District Attorney’s Office.
Likewise, it is a common misconception that the victims or witnesses have the ability to “dismiss the case.” The underlying premise of a criminal prosecution is that the defendant has committed a “public offense,” and the prosecutor is initiating the prosecution as a representative of “the people.” That is why criminal cases are named “the people of California v. [defendant’s name].”
As such, criminal cases must be adjudicated in a court of law. The prosecutor may motion to dismiss a case, or the judge may order a case dismissed given some legal infirmities. But the victim or witness to a crime does not have the power to dismiss.
The different stages of a criminal case
In the vast majority of criminal cases, the first stage of the case comes in the form of an arrest. This can be a DUI arrest after a traffic stop, or a domestic violence arrest after a complaining spouse called the police. At this stage, the police officers will investigate the alleged crime, gather the evidence, and attempt to record any statements.
At the end of the arrest, 2 things can happen: 1) the officers can leave without taking anyone into custody, or 2) the officers can decide to take one or more person into custody. If you are taken to custody, you will undergo a “booking” procedure in jail, after which you will be given the option to post bail.
Regardless of whether custody occurs, the arresting officers will send their police reports to the prosecutor (generally the District Attorneys). Then, attorneys at the District Attorney’s Office will determine if charges will be filed.
If charges are filed, you will be required to appear for what is known as the arraignment. At arraignment, you will be admonished of the charges against you, informed of your rights, and the judge will review your bail status. In many cases, the best time to resolve your case would be at your arraignment!!! For example, some prosecutorial offices will offer a better plea deal at the arraignment, because that saves the state the time and cost of prosecuting the case further. This is why it is extremely important that you go to your arraignment with a dedicated attorney, so we can take full advantage of this opportunity.
At the end of your arraignment hearing, the judge will generally set a few future hearings. One of these hearings is the pretrial hearing. Pretrial hearings is where your attorney and the prosecutor meets face-to-face to discuss the particulars of each case. In most cases, this is the MOST IMPORTANT stage of the case! Imagine 2 DUI defendants, the first goes to the pretrial having done nothing, and the second is accompanied by an attorney who has proof that the defendant attended AA’s, rehab, and actively volunteers in the community. Of course the outcome will be more favorable for the latter person.
In felony cases, a preliminary examination hearing will be scheduled. The preliminary examination, as the name suggests, involves the prosecutor introducing some of their evidence. Not the entirety of their case, but enough of it to convince the judge that the case has merit, and should not be dismissed for lack of evidence. If you are charged with a felony, this is also your first opportunity to cross examine the prosecutor’s witnesses, and to attempt to get your case dismissed out of court.
In some cases, it may be necessary to set a hearing for various motions. These includes motions that challenge the legality of the arrest, the statute of limitations, the sufficiency of the probable cause, etc. A favorable motion ruling can significantly improve the outlook of a case. In many cases, a successful motion can even get a case tossed out of court altogether!
At some point, a defendant must make a difficult decision: should we settle the case or take the case to trial? If the defendant decides to settle the case –that is, accept the plea bargain- the case will proceed to sentencing. At this stage, the judge will sentence you based on your agreement with the prosecution. In some cases, if the prosecutor is being unreasonable with their stance, a judge may step in and offer a lenient sentence in exchange for what is known as a “plea to the court.” It takes a persuasive attorney armed with knowledge of the client’s specific facts to convince a judge to exercise this discretion. This is yet another reason why a dedicated and skillful attorney is so instrumental to a successful defense.
If a case does not settle or get dismissed, the case will eventually proceed to jury trial. In a jury trial, 12 randomly selected jurors will determine guilt or innocence. The jury must unanimously vote for “guilty” or “not guilty,” otherwise the result is a “hung jury.” In many cases, a “hung jury” can result in a dismissal because the court determines that it is in the best interest of justice to discontinue prosecution. Again, you will want a skilled and experienced attorney to advocate for this position should you get to this point.
Common criminal cases and possible consequences
Some of the most common criminal cases are:
- Theft crimes.
- Narcotics/drugs offenses.
- Domestic violence.
- Gang violence.
- Child abuse.
- Assault and battery.
Here at Orange County Criminal Attorneys, we have a wealth of experience dealing with all of the above cases. When you come in for an in-person consultation, we will walk you through the various scenarios and answer any questions you may have about your specific case.
Some of the potential consequences of a criminal conviction are:
- Custody in jail and/or prison.
- Registration as a narcotics offender, sex offender, or habitual traffic offender.
- Loss of voting privileges.
- Loss of driving privileges.
- Loss of right to possess firearms.
- Loss of educational and/or occupational opportunities.
- Deportation and/or loss of immigration status.
- Probation – formal or summary.
The above is merely a small list of possible consequences of a criminal conviction. It cannot be stressed enough that the stakes in a criminal conviction are extremely high; do not take any case lightly!
A “one-size-fits-all” approach to criminal defense is really a “one-size-fits-none” approach
Look back to the above list of potential consequences in a criminal case, the range is wide and different people will understandably have different concerns. As such, how can any attorney ever take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to their clients’ cases?
Unfortunately, in many situations, criminal defense attorneys are simply too busy to explore all of their clients’ individual needs. The end result can be tragic. For example, while a prospective medical student may be more concerned about going to jail and less about traveling to Canada, a businessman who travels to Canada weekly for business may prioritize avoiding a DUI conviction over jail time. Likewise, a green card holder will likely accept custody if it means preserving his or her legal resident status, whereas a tourist will much prefer fines and classes in lieu of custody.
The point is this: no two cases -no two clients- are the same. Every client deserves individualized attention and dedication.
Here at Orange County Criminal Attorneys, we reject the “one-size-fits-all” approach to criminal defense. We believe that our clients’ needs always come first. We will interview our clients, determine the client’s specific needs, and tailor our defense strategy to address those needs. Our promise to you is that we will treat you as a person, not merely another case file.
The importance of a good criminal defense lawyer
Navigating through the DMV, the court, and the prosecutor requires a lawyer with skill, experience, and zeal. The lawyer must understand the client’s individual needs, the unique aspects of the client’s case, and craft a plan of attack accordingly.
For example, an active-duty military client will need special attention in areas different from another client who is applying for college. Likewise, someone who travels to Canada for work will have different immigration concerns than another who is applying for his or her U.S. green card.
Here, at Orange County Criminal Attorneys, we reject the idea that there is a “one-size-fits-all” approach to DUI cases. Despite popular misconception, no two DUI’s are identical. Even factually similar cases will differ based on the client’s individual needs and concerns.
A good lawyer will listen to your specific concerns, devise the best plan of attack, and execute that plan skillfully and zealously. This way, you achieve the best possible outcome FOR YOU.
Fortune befalls the vigilant and the prepared in a DUI case
Defending a DUI is not just about what happens in court. A good defense strategy must also include getting information from the DMV, comparing the information with discovery through the District Attorney, and making sure that the client is actively working to mitigate the damage. This is before more legal-oriented issues such as whether the search/seizure was lawful, whether all the evidence are admissible under the law, etc. Going to court unprepared is a surefire path to disaster.
The vast majority of DUI defense is done in confidence; meaning off the record. For example, going to AA meeting to show that you are actively rehabilitating yourself. Or subpoenaing the chemical test logs to ensure that the collected samples are accurate. These actions are not done in court, but form the foundation for a successful court argument. Wasting the precious time between the time of your arrest and your court date can severely impair your ability to secure a positive disposition.
That is why it is extremely important for you to call us as soon as possible after your arrest. This way, we can immediately contact the DMV to contest your license suspension. And we can request that the police report and related documents be disclosed to us. From there, we know what we are dealing with and can craft a plan. Going to court not even knowing what the police officers and the prosecutor have against you is, simply put, “life malpractice.”
Handling your own DUI is basically “life malpractice”
If I tell you something can cause you to lose your job, lose your immigration status, cause you to be expelled from school, or send you to jail, your response should never be “I think I can learn on the fly how to handle this.” It would be medical malpractice for a doctor to think this way in a similar situation; just as it would be legal malpractice for a lawyer to behave this way.
Everyday, anywhere between 20 to 50 people charged with DUI will appear in a particular courtroom. All of them will have different concerns, and different facts. But, to the court and the prosecutor, they are merely their case numbers. The key in every defense should be to become WHO YOU ARE, and not case number 29 on the calendar. This way, the DUI becomes “a stupid one time mistake I made because I was hanging out with my friend who returned from deployment in Afghanistan,” and not just “the 29th DUI on calendar today.”
To separate yourself from the crowd, you need a dedicated lawyer working for you. Of the 50 or so people in court, most of them will have gone in with no preparation. Now imagine your lawyer going into court, with documents showing that you have a stable job, a good family, and proof of your efforts to rehabilitate. Your lawyer knows what is acceptable to you, and what you absolutely must avoid. You can see how the judge and the prosecutor will treat your case more seriously, and begin to view you as WHO YOU ARE, and not “just another DUI.”
Do not commit life malpractice. Let a dedicated, skilled, experienced attorney help you. We will investigate your case zealously, and listen to your concerns patiently. This is the only way to achieve the best possible outcome for YOU.
In California, driving under the influence offenses are treated very seriously. A conviction can result in:
- loss of driving privileges.
- court-mandated classes.
- custody in jail.
- loss of educational or occupational opportunities.
- adverse immigration consequences.
Imagine if tomorrow, you cannot drive anywhere. How will you get to work? Or if you are applying for medical school, and the application requires you to disclose convictions. Can you still compete with a DUI conviction on your record? Say you work for the Department of Defense, and your clearance level is dependent upon your clean record. What should you do to save your job?
The above are just a few examples of how a DUI conviction can ruin your life. And this is not even an exhaustive list!
Even before a conviction, the DMV can suspend your license, and make life extremely difficult for you. This power is given to the DMV through the California Vehicle Code, which comprises of an extremely complex set of statutes.
The point is this: a DUI is no small matter, and no one should take it lightly. If handled improperly, a DUI can seriously disturb your life.