Police questioning can occurr throughout an investigation. It is almost always preferable to have an attorney present before answering any questions or making a statement if you are a suspect or were involved in the commission of a crime. You have the right to remain silent, saying you want an attorney should terminate questioning and cannot be held against you. If you are simply a witness and will not be incriminating yourself, then you may not need an attorney, but every case is different. Many people think they can "talk" their way out of an arrest, but unfortunately that does not occurr. Even worse, people incriminate themselves, give information that will incriminate them or ruin their future credibility as a witness by not being completely honest.
California (Penal Code) PC 1170.18 (Prop 47) not only reduces many pending drug and theft cases to misdemeanors, but also allows the reduction of prior convictions for these offenses to be to misdemeanors. Before this new code section passed, many drug charges were non-reducible to misdemeanors, particularly H&S 11350 (possession for personal use of heroin, crack, cocaine etc) now you can have them reduced to misdemeanors. Also other theft related charges, under $950 in value, including burglary (non-residential), receiving stolen property, NSF checks, forgery, and petty theft with priors are all reducible to misdemeanors.
Petty theft and shoplifting charges are one of the main areas addressed by Prop 47, now known as California Penal Code 1170.18. However, it will not change much for the vast majority of people arrested for a first offense petty theft. Prop 47 prevents the filing of felonies for individuals with theft priors. Before this law change, individuals with certain theft related priors or 3 or more petty thefts, could have been and usually were charged with a felony "petty with a prior" which was punishable by up to 3 years in prison.
There are lobster laws pertaining to the taking of lobster from California waters which make violations criminal and usually enforced by Fish and Game Officers. These laws are designed to maintain a healthy marine environment and protect local lobster resources. They are enumerated in the Ocean Fishing Regulations published by Fish and Game and available everywhere you can get a fishing license and on line. These laws make many lobster regulation violations misdemeanors or offenses that can be punished by local jail up to 6 months or more and significant fines.
A Criminal Defense Lawyer can do alot, even if you are guilty. Just because you think you may be guilty of the charges, a criminal defense lawyer can review the case and defenses to see whether or not you can be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if you can be proved guilty, the lawyer knows what factors are important in trying to negotiate the charges with the District Attorney to get them reduced or dismissed. There may be alternatives to prosecution and different ways the case can be handled.
A 4th amendment waiver is short for giving up your right to be searched with or without probable cause. It is often used in North San Diego County and throughout California and refers to waiving the protections of the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution which gives us the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The "4th" waiver is commonly imposed as a term of probation or parole in most criminal cases, especially those relating to theft, drugs and weapons. It allows you to be searched by law enforcement, probation officers or parole officers whether they have a reason or not. It is helpful from a law enforcement point of view not only for the access it gives to probationers and parolees, but also as a deterrent to being involved in criminal conduct knowing you could be searched at any time.
There is a way to avoid convictions on drug charges in Vista Courts depending on a number of factors. If the person charged with drug charges in Vista Courts is charged only with possession of a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use or under the influence of drugs, they may be eligible for "diversion". This alternative to conviction requires generally no prior diversions or drug record. The rules are a little more complicated and are outlined in California Penal Code 1000.
Police Officers, in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, Escondido, San Marcos, Encinitas and throughout California, use resisting arrest, California Penal Code (P.C.) 148, to arrest people who are delaying, interferring or resisting a peace officer in the performance of his duties. There are legitimate arrests and prosections for this violation, however, too often it is used an an excuse to take into custody someone who is bothering the officer in some way even though there may be a more appropriate way to handle the situation.
The vast majority of criminal cases are settled through negotiated plea bargains, well over 90%. Plea bargaining is an important tool for all parties, Judges, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys. There are not near enough resources to try all the cases, so it has become an essential part of the criminal justice system out of necessity. There are cases which get dismissed becuse of insufficient evidence, or further investigation indicating a valid defense, but the rest of the cases may be able to be resolved in such a way that the Defendant is willing to resolve the matter with an acceptable plea bargain rather than take the risk of going to trial and getting a significant sentence if convicted.
Treatment in Drug cases in Vista Courts may be available as an alternative to prosecution under certain circumstances, or included in the sentencing for drug charges. There are several ways to handle a drug case which depend on a number of factors like the charges, the facts of the case, prior record, individual, medical condition and other factors specific to a certain case. Treatment can be available and ordered as part of a sentence or as an alternative to a sentence. Whether or not treatment will be successful depends on the individual.