FAQs

What is the sentence for drug possession in California?

Possession of a controlled substance is typically a misdemeanor offense in California.  Under the law, if you possess a controlled substance (such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines) without a valid prescription, then you can be charged with a crime.  This is...

What Does “Statute of Limitations” Mean?

A statute of limitations provides a timeframe during which prosecutors can accuse a person of wrongdoing. If they file a charge after the statute of limitation, the accused can request a dismissal of charges. There are statutes of limitations for civil cases and...

Do I have to take a field sobriety test?

No, there is no legal penalty for refusing to take a field sobriety test. You should definitely not take the test if you think you might fail, as this would only serve to create more evidence against you.  

How can a DUI defense attorney help?

A DUI defense attorney in southern California can help you defend your rights in a DUI case. Unlike a general attorney, a DUI defense attorney like Dan E. Chambers has specific experience in the technical aspects of DUI cases and knows how to successfully challenge...

Can the police officer take my license?

State law in California gives police the authority to take your drivers license and issue you a notice of suspension if you fail a chemical test. Many people find this surprising because in effect a penalty is being assessed before you are proven guilty in court....

What factors are considered possible indications of DUI?

In addition to suspicious driving patterns, a smell of alcohol, slurred speech, red, bloodshot, or watery eyes, difficulty understanding questions, fumbling with your license and registration, and the presence of any alcohol containers, drugs, or drug paraphernalia...

Who can be stopped for DUI?

Anyone can be arrested for DUI, regardless of the original reason that the police officer stopped the car. In general, a police officer has to have probable cause to stop a vehicle, meaning the officer must identify a traffic violation, vehicle equipment safety...

How do I expunge my criminal record in California?

In California, expungement is a process available for many people who have been convicted of misdemeanor or felony offenses.  An expungement — also known as a dismissal — releases a person from the negative consequences of a criminal conviction for most purposes....

What are the Different Degrees of Murder in California?

If you face a homicide charge, you must act with a sense of urgency by contacting a Southern California criminal defense lawyer. An experienced attorney not only can present a powerful defense, but a highly skilled lawyer knows how to plead down a homicide charge to a...

How do I fight a DUI in California?

There are a number of potential strategies for fighting a California DUI.  The best strategy will depend on the facts of each individual case. California prosecutors may charge a driving under the influence (DUI) case in one of two ways.  First, if your blood alcohol...

How do I get a failure to appear dismissed?

Failure to appear is a California crime that is charged whenever a person is charged with or convicted of a California crime, released from custody, and then willfully fails to appear from court when required to do so, in order to evade the process of the court. ...

How Does a Criminal Record Hurt Your Future?

If you face a criminal charge, you have to fight the charge by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney who has compiled an impressive record of successfully litigating criminal cases. The stakes are too high for you to settle for a lesser criminal defense...

How does a judge participate in a murder trial?

In a California murder trial, a judge has five main duties.  First, he or she will preside over the proceedings and ensure that order is maintained in the courtroom.  Second, the judge will determine the admissibility of evidence that the parties seek to introduce. ...

What should I do if I’m stopped for DUI?

Be polite and courteous to the police, but know that the law protects you from incriminating yourself. So if the police officer asks whether you’ve been drinking, you don’t have to admit it. You don’t want to lie either—your best bet is to say you want to speak to an...

What is DUI?

DUI, or driving under the influence, is defined as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, or while under the influence of legal or illegal drugs that impair your driving ability.  

Who can be charged with elder abuse?

Anyone can be charged, but the statute specifically targets “caretakers” of elders. A caretaker is defined under the statute as anyone who “has the care, custody, or control of, or who stands in a position of trust with, an elder or a dependent adult.  

Isn’t marijuana legal in California?

It is legal for a person over the age of 21 to possess not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana. Although in some respects California drug law has been relaxed with respect to marijuana, you may still end up facing drug charges if you grow too many plants or have more...

What if I only have a little bit of marijuana?

For individuals who are over 21, there is no penalty for carrying not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana. For individuals under 18 or between the ages of 18-21, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana will be considered an infraction, rather than a misdemeanor....

What is California’s Three Strikes Law?

On March 7, 1994, California’s Three Strikes and You’re Out law went into effect. The purpose of the new law was to increase the legal penalties for defendants convicted of a felony that also have a prior felony conviction for one or more crimes. The Three Strikes and...

What Is First Degree Murder?

First-degree murder is generally considered one of the most heinous crimes anywhere in the world. Conviction involves proving that the individual meant to kill the victim and spent time planning the final act. However, there is more to first-degree murder than just...

What Is Reckless Burning in California?

California has experienced an unprecedented number of fires over the past decade and, along with them, great loss. The reduce the number of wildfires and minimize destruction, the state has implemented strict arson laws. In fact, the laws are so harsh that...

What is a DRE?

DRE stands for Drug Recognition Expert. It generally refers to a police officer who has received special training concerning investigations involving drug use and being under the influence of controlled substances. The designation is the subject of much controversy...

What is a Pretrial Conference?

Also referred to as a pretrial hearing, a pretrial conference is a meeting between the parties participating in a legal dispute. Although most people associated a pretrial conference with a civil case, the meetings are also part of the criminal defense process. The...

Do I have to take a PAS test?

No, you do not have to take a PAS (handheld breathalyzer) test unless you are under 21 or on probation for a previous DUI. However, if you refuse the test you can still be arrested and taken to the police station, where you will have to take a blood or breath test.

What happens when you get three strikes in California?

If you are convicted of three strike offenses in California, then you will face an enhanced sentence. The length of the sentence will depend on whether the third strike is a serious or violent felony. A person convicted of three strikes will be sentenced to 25 years...

Which is better, Prop 36 or PC 1000?

While Prop 36 is very beneficial because it opens the alternative sentencing options up to more offenders, in general if you have a choice between Prop 36 and PC 1000 you should choose PC 1000. While PC 1000 will result in an automatic dismissal after completing the...

What is Prop 36?

Prop 36 is a sentencing scheme that went into effect in 2001 and is contained in Penal Code sections 1210 and 1210.1. Prop 36 applies to persons convicted of “nonviolent drug possession offenses” as that term is defined in the Penal Code. If eligible, a Prop 36...

What are the Defenses for a Kidnapping Charge?

Kidnapping is one of the most serious criminal charges made against suspects in California. Simple kidnapping can carry a prison sentence of up to eight years, while aggravated kidnapping can lead to a sentence of life in state prison. If you face the serious criminal...

What are the California Arson Laws?

Because the crime is highly destructive and frequently deadly, arson is considered one of the most serious of crimes. In California, arson is defined as the “willful and malicious burning of property.” The devastation caused by California wildfires over the past...

What are Alternative Sentencing Options?

Alternative sentencing is when a person completes his/her criminal sentencing within the community (from their home) rather than in the custody of a state prison or county jail. Alternative sentencing options in California are carried out through a community or state...

Pleading the Fifth: What Does It Mean?

You probably have watched at least one law or police drama that included a scene where a law enforcement officer explained to a suspect that “You have the right to remain silent.” The “right to remain silent” comes from the Fifth Amendment to the United States...

How can a drug crimes defense attorney help?

An experienced attorney can help make sure you take advantage of any drug diversion programs you are eligible for. They can also help to seek a reduced sentence, the dropping of charges, or a not guilty verdict by undermining the prosecution’s evidence against you....

Can you go to jail after an arraignment?

Yes. If you are in custody at the time of arraignment, you may return to custody after you are arraigned unless bail is modified or exonerated. While it is unusual, there is a possibility that you could be taken into custody after an arraignment even if you were not...

What are Miranda rights?

Miranda rights are a set of rights that must be given to individuals who are in custody and being interrogating by police or other law enforcement agents. These rights arise under the privilege against self-incrimination that is contained in the Fifth Amendment of the...

Can you smoke marijuana in a parked car in California?

While the recreational use of marijuana is legal in California, there are still restrictions on where it can be used.  For example, the consumption of cannabis products, whether through smoking, ingesting, drinking, or vaping, is not legal in public places. When it...

Computer Hacking FAQs

What Is Hacking? Hacking, which is more formally known as "unauthorized computer access," is defined in California law under Penal Code 502 (c) as intentionally accessing any computer, computer system or network without permission. Examples of hacking include an...

Is your license suspended immediately after a DUI?

After being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) in California, your driver’s license will be subject to an automatic suspension from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  This suspension does not take place immediately.  You have...

Can you refuse to give ID to police?

In California, you can refuse to provide your identification to the police.  California does not have a “Stop and Identify” or “Papers Please” statute that would require you to provide ID to the police upon request.  The police cannot force you to show ID without just...

Can you be charged with a crime without knowing?

It is possible for you to be charged with a crime without knowing about it. While there are many situations where you could be arrested on the spot for allegedly committing a crime, there are other times where the police investigate crimes after the fact. A prosecutor...

When do I need to be given my Miranda rights?

Contrary to popular belief, Miranda rights are not required just because a police officer questions an individual.  Three things are required before you are entitled to have Miranda rights given: The person must be in “custody” as that term has been defined by the...

How do I know if I’m at risk for DUI of drugs?

While there is a legal limit for the amount of alcohol you can have in your system while driving, there is no specific limit for legal or illegal drugs. If a blood or urine test establishes you have drugs in your system, you could be charged with DUI of drugs,...

Can the defense call a prosecution witness?

Yes.  The defense may call a prosecution witness during their case-in-chief.  Although unusual, there may be several important reasons for calling a prosecution witness on behalf of the defense. First, the prosecution witness may simply be an eyewitness or someone who...

Can Prior Strikes Be Removed By a Court?

There are two ways that a strike can be removed by a court. First, the prosecutor in a case may choose to strike allegations related to a serious or violent felony. This may be done because they don’t think that the defendant deserves a strike sentence. A prosector...

What are the penalties for DUI?

The penalties for a DUI conviction will vary according to the particulars of your case. At minimum, you can expect: DMV license suspension A fine of approximately $2,000 3, 6, 9 or months of DUI class 3 to 5 years of probation Jail time depending on the specifics of...

What drug crimes are covered by Prop 47?

Health and Safety Code sections 11350 (possession of certain controlled substances, usually cocaine), 11357 (possession of concentrated cannabis) and 11377 (possession of certain controlled substances, most commonly methamphetamine).  

How does bail work?

When a person is arrested, he or she might be released on his or her  “own recognizance.”  This generally only happens for minor offenses, and means that the individual is released as soon as the booking process and paperwork are completed. However, in most instances,...

Will my conviction lead to jail time?

Not necessarily. Drug court and drug diversion programs like Prop 36 and PC 1000 provide the option of alternative sentencing to offenders who are convicted of certain nonviolent drug related crimes. In many cases the conviction can actually be dismissed in exchange...

Is it legal to drive on CBD?

CBD — the abbreviation for cannabidiol — is a non-psychoactive substance found in marijuana. It has become increasingly popular as a way to obtain the health benefits of marijuana without getting high.  CBD products typically have a low amount of the psychoactive...

Is CBD oil legal for truckers?

Under both federal and state law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.  While truck drivers can legally use CBD oil in California when they are not working, doing so may put their livelihood in jeopardy. The federal...

Is It Possible to Appeal a Three Strikes Sentence?

If you have been convicted and sentenced under the Three Strikes Law, you can file an appeal of that sentence with the assistance of a seasoned Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. These appeals can be made under Proposition 36 or on a constitutional basis. Prop 36...

How much does it cost for murder defense?

The cost of hiring an attorney for a murder defense charge in California will depend on a number of factors.  Murder cases are the most serious charge in California, and will generally cost more than more simple, straightforward cases, such as a misdemeanor assault...

Who is covered by the elder abuse statute?

An elder is defined as anyone who is 65 years of age or older. The statute also protects “dependent adults” between the ages of 18 and 64 who have physical or mental limitations that restrict their ability to carry out normal activities or to protect their rights....

What types of conduct can be charged as elder abuse?

Penal Code section 368 is the main statute that discusses elder abuse. It contains several types of conduct that can serve as the basis of a charge of elder abuse: Willful neglect Inflicting physical harm or suffering on an elder Placing an elder in a situation that...

Does California still have the three strikes law?

California’s three strikes law is still in effect, although it has changed since it was initially enacted in the 1990’s. It was passed as a way to reduce the number of violent recidivist offenders in the state. Under the three strikes law, if a person is repeatedly...

Do I need a lawyer for an arraignment?

At your arraignment, the judge will advice you of your Constitutional rights, including the right to be represented by an attorney. While you do not necessarily need to have an attorney present at your arraignment, having one can be important in several ways. First,...

Do you go to jail right after trial?

If you are found guilty of a criminal offense in California, then you will not necessarily go to jail immediately after trial.  The judge has three options: (1) keeping you in custody if you were already in jail; (2) ordering you into custody even if you were not in...

How long does an arraignment hearing take?

There is no set length of time for an arraignment hearing. As an initial matter, it is important to understand that even if your hearing is scheduled for a specific time, court calendars are often incredibly busy. It isn’t unusual for a hearing that is set for 9:15...

What is SB 1437?

SB 1437 is California’s new felony murder rule.  Signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018, it effectively limits who can be prosecuted for felony murder.  Under the previous law, any person could be convicted of felony murder if a person died during...

What are the punishments for elder abuse?

They vary widely depending on whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony, and whether certain aggravating factors are present. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor charge is one year in county jail. If the charge is filed as a felony, the maximum penalty can be...

Do I have to consent to a breathalyzer test?

In California, drivers must consent to breathalyzer tests in certain situations.  At other times, drivers have the right to refuse to take a breathalyzer test.  The determination of whether to consent to a breathalyzer test is based on the facts of the specific case....

What are the Robbery Laws in California?

According to California law, taking another person’s property by force or by using intimidating tactics constitutes robbery. The crime always carries a felony conviction, with penalties reaching as high as nine years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000....

What crimes fall under the three strikes law?

In California, a “strike” offense is any conviction that is defined as a serious or violent felony under the California Penal Code. Serious felonies are listed in California Penal Code Section 1192.7(c). They include, but are not limited to: Murder or voluntary...

What Are Your Miranda Rights?

Named after a monumental United States Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona, the term Mirada Rights requires law enforcement personnel to inform criminal suspects of three important legal rights before the start of the first interrogation session. The answer...

What are the Drug Possession Laws in California?

The well-known saying “How California goes, so goes the nation” typically is linked to the state’s leadership in developing innovative technologies and introducing revolutionary political reforms. However, the saying has relevance for drug possession laws, as many...

What is Trade Secret Theft?

Have you ever wondered how Coca-Cola continues to dominate the soda industry? It comes down to one thing: The recipe the company uses to produce its iconic Classic Coca-Cola. The recipe is considered a trade secret in that only a few of the good folks at the company...

What is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

One of the most confusing elements of criminal law concerns knowing the difference between assault and battery. Many people believe the two crimes are the same, with defendants receiving a charge for assault and battery for the same crime. However, like most states,...

What is APS?

APS stands for Adult Protective Services. APS is a government agency created by statute that functions much like the Department of Children Services does for cases involving minors. APS receives and investigates allegations of elder abuse and often works in...

How long does a DUI stay on your record in California?

The state of California takes the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) seriously. That is why there are significant consequences for a DUI conviction, both criminally and in other ways. If you are convicted of a California DUI, then it will go on two separate...

What Should You Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Facing a criminal charge is one of the most stressful and potentially devastating events in life. The first thing a defendant has to do involves hiring the best criminal defense attorney. The problem is many defendants do not understand what makes a highly effective...

What do I do if I am accused of rape?

If you are accused of rape, you should be aware of the serious nature of this crime.  Under California law, rape is nonconsensual sexual intercourse accomplished through threats, force, or fraud OR with a victim who is unconscious or otherwise incapable of...

How long do you stay in jail if you can’t pay bail?

If you cannot pay bail, then you will remain in jail until your case is resolved. The amount of time that you stay in jail will depend on the type of case and how you choose to move forward. After you are arrested, the first court date will be within 3 business days...

Do felony charges ever go away?

A felony is the most serious criminal offenses under California law. Like other criminal convictions, a felony conviction will remain on your record — unless you take action to have it removed through a process known as expungement. Some people who have been convicted...

Do DUI checkpoints check everyone in the car?

As a general rule, no.  The purpose of DUI checkpoints is to stop the danger of individuals driving while under the influence.  That is why courts have made an exception to the rule that probable cause is needed to pull over motorists for probable cause — because of...

What does out on felony bond mean?

If you have been arrested for a California crime, the court will generally set an amount that must be paid in order to secure your release, known as “bail.” In some cases, you can be released on your own recognizance, which means that you do not have to post bail in...

When Should You Accept a Plea Bargain?

If you watch a television crime drama such as Law and Order, you might conclude that every criminal case ends up going to trial. The fact is more than 90 percent of criminal cases never go to trial. Instead of prosecutors and defense lawyers slugging it out in front...

What happens if you are arrested while out on bail?

If you are arrested while out on bail, it can have serious implications for your criminal case. First, if your criminal attorney Orange County, CA was attempting to negotiate a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you, it may cause the prosecutor to stop any...

What happens if you get caught with a dab pen?

With the passage of Prop 64 in California, the possession of marijuana for recreational purposes became legal for adults aged 21 and older as of January 1, 2018.  This includes up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis  — such as wax/dabs, commonly used in dab pens. If...

What happens if you get three felonies?

If you have three felony convictions in California, you may be sentenced under California’s three strikes law, as described above. This law is applied whenever a defendant is convicted of serious or violent felonies. However, if the convictions were not for serious or...

What Happens in a Criminal Court When You Plead Guilty?

The majority of criminal cases that do not go to trial resolve when the prosecutor and defense attorney agree to a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an arrangement involving a defendant issuing a guilty plea to at least one criminal charge in exchange for a reduced...

Will I go to jail for first offense shoplifting?

In California, shoplifting is defined as entering an open business with the intent to steal merchandise worth $950 or more.  For a first offense, shoplifting will typically be charged as a misdemeanor.  The punishment for a misdemeanor shoplifting conviction is up to...

What happens if you are accused of stalking?

In California, stalking may be charged if you follow, harass, and/or threaten another person to the point where they fear for their safety or the safety of their family.  Stalking is a wobbler offense, which means that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a...

What Happens If I Fail a Field Sobriety Test?

The state of California employs several different tests to determine if drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence should be arrested for DUI. California law does not require you to submit to any of these tests, and we recommend politely refusing them....

Can a case be dismissed if your rights aren’t read?

Depending on the facts, a case may be dismissed if the police fail to read your Miranda rights.  Under the law, law enforcement officers are required to give you these warnings before an in-custody interrogating.  If they fail to do so, any statement that you make...

Can a judge overrule the jury?

No.  Once a verdict has been rendered, either guilty or not guilty, the judge cannot overrule the jury. However, under California law, a defendant can make a motion for judgment of acquittal before the evidence is submitted to the jury.  If the prosecution has failed...

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