Santa Ana Criminal Defense Lawyer
Facing criminal charges is a life-changing experience for most people. If you have recently been arrested in the Santa Ana area, it’s natural to fear the potential punishments you face if you are convicted. The average person is likely to feel quite lost when mounting a legal defense against any criminal charge.
Experienced Criminal Defense Representation in Santa Ana
The California Penal Code includes rigid definitions for some of the most commonly committed crimes in the state; the law also recommends penalties for specific offenses. Your situation likely feels desperate or even hopeless, but there are strict rules the prosecution must follow to secure a conviction. The right Santa Ana criminal defense attorney can assist you in countering the prosecution’s case in various ways.
When you have the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, handling your defense, you will be best equipped to confront the most difficult details of your case, and you will be more likely to emerge from the situation with the most favorable outcome. Of course, no defense attorney can ever promise their client a specific result, but when you choose the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, to represent your defense, you will have full access to the entire scope of our professional resources and extensive experience with California criminal law.
Know Your Rights in an Arrest in Santa Ana
Every American has two very important constitutional rights when they are arrested. First is the right to remain silent, protected by the Fifth Amendment. A defendant charged with a crime is under no obligation to answer any questions from the police or act as a witness against themselves. This Amendment aims to protect against self-incrimination. Second is the right to legal counsel, upheld by the Sixth Amendment. You have the right to defense representation even if you cannot afford an attorney. If you simply do not wish to pay a private defense lawyer’s fees, you still retain the right to legal representation in this situation as well.
When a defendant cannot pay for a private criminal defense lawyer, the defendant can have a public defender assigned to represent them at no cost. For some defendants, public defenders are their only option due to the inability to hire private counsel. However, if you can afford to hire a private Santa Ana criminal defense attorney, they can likely provide a higher level of defense counsel than even the best public defenders can manage.
While most of the public defenders handling criminal defense representation in Santa Ana are experienced and hardworking, their job prevents them from providing any client with much individual attention. As a result, your public defender may only be able to devote an hour or so per day to handle your case, and while they may do their best on your behalf, they are unlikely to reach the same results you could expect from an experienced private Santa Ana criminal defense attorney.
Why You Should Hire a Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorney
Working with a private criminal defense team ensures you are fully prepared to meet the challenges your case presents. A good defense attorney will start working on your case immediately by carefully analyzing the police’s handling of your arrest and booking, reviewing the details of your police report, and determining whether you have any form of alibi you can present. In addition, you are likely to have many pressing legal questions throughout your case, and your attorney can provide the answers you need to help you feel more at ease about your proceedings.
The criminal justice system in the United States revolves around the concept of the presumption of innocence. This means that in every criminal case, the judge and jury must presume the defendant’s innocence, and the defendant can only be convicted if the prosecution presents evidence and testimony that clearly proves the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, the defendant may only be convicted by a unanimous jury verdict.
Your Santa Ana criminal defense attorney’s mission is to prevent the prosecution from meeting their burden of proof and helping their client avoid conviction if possible. If you were wrongfully accused of a crime you did not commit; your attorney can help you establish an alibi to prove you could not have committed the crime in question. If you are guilty, it is still worth having reliable defense counsel on your side. They may be able to highlight issues with the prosecution’s case that prevent them from meeting their burden of proof, or they can help you secure a lighter penalty if possible.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, strive to help every client avoid conviction whenever possible, and when a conviction is all but a certainty, we move to help our client avoid the worst penalties that could be assigned to their case. Therefore, when the police place you under arrest, say nothing and comply with their directions. Once you complete booking, you will be able to make phone calls, and you should reach out to a Santa Ana criminal defense lawyer you can trust to represent you.
Types of Criminal Cases Our Firm Handles
When you decide to hire a Santa Ana criminal defense attorney, you must verify that your chosen legal representative has adequate experience handling similar criminal cases. The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, has years of experience helping Santa Ana-area clients through a variety of criminal cases. As a result, we can provide the defense counsel you need when you have been charged with:
- Driving under the influence (DUI). Driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol is illegal in California and can easily lead to penalties. The penalties for conviction typically include fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension. In addition, these penalties increase dramatically when the defendant has injured or killed someone or if they have a record of multiple past DUI offenses. Therefore, it’s vital to understand your rights when it comes to preliminary alcohol screenings, the implied consent law for chemical testing in California DUI cases, and the scope of personal and professional consequences that your conviction may carry.
- Drug offenses. California may have some of the most relaxed drug laws in the country, but drug-related offenses continue to be some of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in the United States each year. Simple possession, possession with intent to sell, illegal drug manufacturing (such as operating a methamphetamine lab or “pill mill” to produce counterfeit prescription narcotics, and drug trafficking are the most commonly prosecuted drug crimes in Santa Ana. You could have more defenses available than you initially realize, especially if you struggle with a substance abuse disorder or were coerced into participating in an illegal drug ring against your will.
- Sex crimes. Sex-related criminal offenses typically incur severe penalties upon conviction, including fines, restitution to the victims harmed by the defendant’s actions, incarceration, and registration as a sex offender. The penalties for a sex offense typically depend on the severity of the act, the age and condition of the victim, and whether the defendant caused permanent harm.
- Theft and property crimes. The California Penal Code acknowledges various types of theft based on the value stolen. Shoplifting, petty theft, and grand theft all carry unique penalties. In addition, it’s possible to face prosecution for the theft of another party’s property or the intentional destruction of another party’s property. Penalties for theft can increase dramatically if the defendant used force or completed the theft with the use of a weapon.
- Traffic offenses. Speeding and moving violations typically do not qualify as crimes in the state per se, but these offenses can still carry severe penalties. For example, if you do not fight a speeding ticket and pay the fine, this is equivalent to admitting fault for the incident, and you could face a host of penalties in response. In addition, too many points on your license could lead to an automatic suspension, and you may also face mandatory driver safety training and other penalties based on the severity of your offense and past traffic offense convictions on your record.
- Violent offenses. State lawmakers have recently approved controversial laws that reduce many violent crimes to misdemeanors, but any violent crime that results in harm to a victim is likely eligible for felony prosecution. Few defenses are viable in this type of case, namely self-defense or defense of another. In addition, penalties could escalate significantly if a defendant used a weapon, caused severe bodily injury, or killed the victim.
- Firearms-related crimes. The state upholds some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Illegal possession of a firearm, a felon in possession of a firearm, or using a firearm while committing a crime can lead to felony-level prosecution. Defendants convicted of breaking California gun laws often face fines, incarceration, and loss of their right to purchase and own firearms in the future.
- Domestic violence. Every year, thousands of people experience various forms of domestic violence. Any defendant convicted of domestic violence faces severe penalties and a host of additional consequences, such as loss of any custody rights they may have had. The victim can also have a restraining order that will prohibit their attacker from contacting them or coming near them in the future. Penalties for domestic violence typically mirror those assigned to similar offenses outside the purview of domestic violence, but the penalties assigned for domestic violence typically exceed those assigned to standard criminal offenses.
- White-collar crime, such as all types of fraud. “White-collar crime” is a term used to describe many criminal offenses that unfold in the business world, such as various forms of fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering. While these offenses are not violent in nature, they are still incredibly damaging, and the penalties for conviction typically entail restitution to any victims harmed by the defendant, along with heavy fines, incarceration, and more.
- Criminal court petitions, such as petitions for expungement, early termination of probation, and other client-focused requests. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, can guide our client through any court proceedings related to another case. For example, if you believe you qualify to have your probation terminated early due to good behavior and fulfilling the other terms of your sentence, we can help you file a strong petition. We also have experience helping Santa Ana clients secure criminal record expungement.
We are fully prepared to provide the robust defense counsel you need for whatever type of criminal charges you currently face. In addition, we take time to develop an individualized defense strategy for each client we represent, ensuring we address their unique needs and concerns through all of the proceedings they must endure.
Building Your Defense Against Criminal Charges in Santa Ana
Remember that no matter how hopeless your situation may seem, the prosecution is faced with the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There are strict rules pertaining to the types of evidence they may submit and various procedural steps the prosecution must fulfill for the case to proceed in their desired direction. Time is a crucial factor for any defendant facing prosecution in Santa Ana. It’s vital to seek legal counsel you can trust as soon as possible after you have been arrested for any criminal offense.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, can help our client secure physical evidence, witness statements, and even expert witnesses to help them establish an alibi and/or disprove a prosecutor’s case. Our team knows how to uncover the truth behind your charges and identify the best defenses available to you. We’ll seek a case dismissal if possible and a lighter sentence if necessary.
Understanding Plea Deals and Sentencing in California Criminal Court
When a defendant attends their preliminary hearing or arraignment, this is a formal reading of the charges the state has filed against the defendant and an opportunity for the defendant to enter their plea. Pleading guilty will move the case to sentencing. Pleading “no contest” has a similar result, but this indicates that while the defendant has no intention of fighting the charges, they are not admitting guilt. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case moves to a trial.
The defense and the prosecution must share the evidence and testimony they intend to present in the case. The discovery process can be lengthy and stressful, but the purpose is to avoid surprises and identify admissibility issues with either side’s evidence. Once discovery is complete, the two parties can file pretrial motions, and the case begins in earnest. The defendant can only be convicted if the jury finds them guilty by unanimous verdict. However, if the defendant’s guilt is clear and the prosecutor believes they have more than enough evidence to ensure the defendant’s conviction, they may offer a plea deal to conserve court resources.
A plea deal can be the best option a defendant has to avoid the worst possible penalties in their case if they know they committed the offense in question. In exchange for entering an immediate guilty plea and allowing the court to conserve resources, the prosecution may offer to reduce or even drop some charges and/or lighten the defendant’s penalty. Plea deals are often extended to first-time offenders, but there is never a guarantee this will be an option for every defendant. Your Santa Ana criminal defense attorney will help you determine whether a plea bargain or fighting your charges in court would better suit your interests.
Benefits of Hiring Defense Representation You Can Trust in Santa Ana
Facing any criminal charge in Santa Ana can be distressing for many reasons, and the penalties you could face if you are convicted are likely to extend far beyond what the judge orders. You could face not only fines, incarceration, and various other penalties at the discretion of your sentencing judge but also a host of personal and professional consequences. For example, some defendants will be kicked out of professional organizations or have their professional licenses revoked. They will also lose standing in their communities, and some may face civil claims from the people they hurt.
When you have an experienced Santa Ana criminal defense attorney handling your case, you will be far better equipped to mount the most effective defense you possibly can. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, can help you identify the best available defenses in your case, prepare you for each stage of your proceedings, and assist you in reaching the best outcome possible. In addition, time is a crucial concern after an arrest for any crime in Santa Ana, so it is vital that you connect with defense counsel you can trust as quickly as possible.
Criminal Defense FAQs
Q: How Much Does a Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorney Cost?
A: Most private criminal defense attorneys charge their clients hourly for all the time spent working on their cases. Attorneys will track time spent on a case and bill their client intermittently throughout the case or tally a bill the defendant must pay at the conclusion of their case. It’s true that many criminal defense attorneys are expensive to hire, but if you are able to handle the investment, they can offer a higher caliber of legal representation than you could expect from a public defender.
Q: How Can I Avoid Going to Jail in Santa Ana for a Crime?
A: Incarceration is a recommended penalty for many criminal offenses. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you will go to the county jail, and if you are convicted of a felony, you will go to state prison. However, judges are sometimes willing to consider alternative sentencing for certain defendants. For example, if you are arrested for your first offense and did not cause extreme harm to anyone and demonstrate that you sincerely regret your actions, the judge may opt for conditional probation and other alternative penalties in lieu of jail time. Your Santa Ana criminal defense lawyer will help you make the strongest case for leniency possible.
Q: How Long Does a Criminal Case Take to Conclude?
A: The criminal court systems are overburdened by thousands of cases each year, and some cases can take a long time to resolve. A criminal case will move more swiftly when a defendant admits fault and does not fight their charges. However, if a defendant intends to fight their charges in any capacity, the case will take much longer to reach a conclusion.
Q: Is It Worth Hiring a Defense Attorney if I Know I’m Guilty?
A: If you know you broke the law, it is understandable to feel hopeless, but you should not simply throw yourself at the mercy of the court without mounting any type of defense. You could have more room to argue for leniency than you initially realize, and it is possible for additional factors you hadn’t considered to influence your case proceedings. It is always worth hiring legal representation for a criminal case, even if you are sure you will be convicted.
Q: Can I Have My Criminal Record Expunged or Sealed in Santa Ana?
A: State law enables certain individuals to have their criminal records expunged and/or sealed. However, eligibility for this depends on several factors. Only certain offenses can be expunged, and the process of expungement requires meeting various procedural steps and making a compelling case before a judge. Expungement and/or sealing of your record can prevent your conviction from interfering with your life any further than it already has, but you will need an experienced attorney to guide you through the steps of your expungement process.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, have years of experience in criminal defense, and our firm has successfully represented many clients from the Santa Ana area. We know the challenges you are likely to face in your upcoming criminal court proceedings and the many questions you have about what to expect in your case. Contact our team today to schedule a consultation with us and get the answers and support you need in this challenging situation.