HOW YOUR ATTORNEY WORKS FOR YOU IN A MISDEMEANOR CRIMINAL CASE:
A key benefit of hiring our firm to protect your interests in court is convenience and ease of mind. We take care of the management of your case so that you don’t have to. We understand that being arrested can be a traumatic and disruptive event. We handle the details and administration of your case so that you can focus on moving on with your life.
We respect that placing your case in our hands requires a great deal of trust. To give you an idea of what to expect we’ve created this document to explain the stages of a criminal case.
PRE-FILING AND INVESTIGATION:
The earliest stage in the life of a criminal case is the “Pre-filing and Investigation” stage. In this stage the police work to collect evidence. After reviewing this evidence, the prosecutor decides whether to file criminal charges or not.
The earlier you hire an attorney, the more time that attorney has to work on getting you results.
In the pre-filing and investigation stage our firm takes the lead in dealing with law enforcement. We stand between you and a criminal investigation. In this stage our firm may write a “Letter of Representation” to the Police, directing them not to speak with you unless we are present.
A key advantage of retaining our firm early comes from the reputation our name carries. Many of our relationships with police and prosecutors are older than the courthouses we appear in. In instances where good cause for a non-criminal filing exists, our firm is able to draw upon our established status in the local community. We contact law enforcement, tell your side of the story - or put up a roadblock -and can at times obtain non-criminal filings in your case. In other words, this stops the filing of your case with the court before it even starts, minimizing the stain of a criminal record on your name.
If the prosecutor decides to file a criminal complaint you will receive a notice to appear in court for the arraignment. The purpose of this appearance is to get the complaint, a list of formal charges pending against you. The police report is also provided at this appearance. Lastly, the judge may address the issue of bond or release at the first appearance.
If you plan to be represented by a public defender or choose to represent yourself you must appear personally in court for this appearance.
We believe that the less the government intrudes into your daily life, the better it is for you. In the majority of misdemeanor cases we are authorized by law to appear in court on your behalf. We go to court so you don’t have to. As your lawyers it’s our job to make sure this case doesn’t disrupt your job, obligations, and family life any more than it already has.
If retained before your arraignment, our firm will appear on your behalf at the first court date. We will enter a plea of not guilty, pick up the court paperwork for your case, and set follow up court dates. We handle the administration of your case so you don't have to worry about the details.
The pretrial stage of a misdemeanor case covers the filing of the criminal complaint through the resolution of the case. While all cases are different, but most cases last between 90 - 120 days. We call this part of the process “the negotiation stage”. This is the time of the proceedings where we do the most of our work. It’s also the most frustrating part of the process for many clients because of how drawn out and time consuming it can be. Allow this section to explain to you what to expect during this time.
OBTAINING ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE
Over the course of these court appearances your attorney will work your case. Your attorney may request supplemental police reports, scientific records, and other evidence. This other evidence can be things like CCTV footage, recorded statements, or 911 calls. This process is to flesh out the facts of your case for your defense. This is a time where your attorney will probe for weaknesses in the facts of the prosecutor's case.
If applicable, your attorney will file legal documents with the court called "motions". Motions are documents that cite legal procedures, statutes, and case law to request certain action from the judge. Examples of motions include requests to dismiss a case, requests to exclude evidence, or requests to force the prosecutor to drop certain charges. Through motions, your attorney may argue that the government violated your constitutional rights. Motions are critical to legal defense. Through them your attorney combines attacks based on the facts of the case and established legal procedure to defend you in court.
If the prosecutor has a strong case then your attorney may pivot and change strategy. This pretrial stage may also be the part of the process where your attorney may negotiate a deal for you. This negotiation process is known as "plea bargaining". In plea bargaining your attorney works out a compromise with the prosecutor. Your attorney works out a deal where you accept responsibility for limited wrongdoing in exchange for better terms. This is beneficial for the prosecutor because it saves them the trouble of having to prove your case at trial. This may be beneficial for you because it can be a guaranteed settlement for more favorable terms than you would otherwise get if you lost at trial.
ADVICE AND COUNSEL
If there are any important developments in your case our office will contact you immediately. Once we have obtained the materials for your case, your attorney will contact you for a meeting. In this meeting your attorney will discuss the status of your case and counsel you on the strength of the evidence. He will also explain any potential defenses you have, factual or legal. After advising you on the status of the case he will hear what your concerns are and work together with you on a plan to move forward. This plan may be to fight the case at trial or settle the case through negotiations. After your attorney has counseled you, your case will either proceed to the plea-bargaining phase or the trial phase.
SETTLING YOUR CASE
It's time to make a decision.
OPTION A: PLEA BARGAINING
It is a fact in the criminal justice system that the vast majority of cases are resolved before a trial ever occurs. Plea bargaining brings certainty and avoids the costly and emotionally draining trial experience.
There are many programs available to misdemeanor clients to reduce the impact of a criminal case on your record. Many of the plea deals that our firm secures are specially tailored to the facts of the case and the needs of the client. For instance, if your case has immigration considerations we work to protect your citizenship status. If your job relies on your ability to drive, our firm works to make a deal that impacts your ability to drive as little as possible.
Ethically we can't guarantee a specific outcome in your case. Every case is different, especially in criminal law. That said, we have a strong track record for success in plea bargaining. We excel at obtaining diversion, deferred entry of judgement, informal probation, and in some cases dismissals for our clients. Our goal is to reduce the stain a criminal conviction has on your record and to secure the best possible outcome available to you.
OPTION B: TRIAL
As common as plea bargaining is, sometimes a trial is your best option. Trial is obviously best suited for situations where you are innocent, though this is by no means the only time a trial is appropriate. Cases where the evidence is shaky or the prosecutor refuses to offer terms you can accept are also strong candidates for trial. Whatever road brings us to the decision, we are prepared to stand by you and shepherd you through a trial.
Bruce has over three decades of misdemeanor and felony trial background. You will be hard pressed to find a more experienced criminal defense litigator. In addition to Bruce's experience, we have a tried and true network of experts and investigators at our disposal. If your case requires a trial, we're well prepared to fight for you.
Post-Conviction and Beyond
If your case results in a conviction we will support you in understanding and completing your legal obligations. We provide you with a clear and organized list of directions, dates, and program referrals. While fulfilling your legal obligations is your own responsibility, it’s our firm’s job is to make those obligations easy to understand. We advise and empower you to complete your court obligations and put your case behind you. Lastly, once your court obligations are complete, we are available to discuss expunging the case from your criminal record.
If anything important occurs on your case, we will absolutely contact you. Hence, it’s very important to make sure that we have the most up to date contact information for you. Similarly, you’re welcome to contact the firm at any time to request information about your case. That’s why we’re here, to use our expertise and strength to guide you through this frightening and unfamiliar process.
This process takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your case will likely last for several months. This is normal and it doesn’t mean that anything is going wrong. It means that your attorneys are working hard in negotiations or legal motions to get the best outcome for your case. That is our job and we take it very seriously.