Frequently Asked Questions
Is my case civil or criminal? How do I know?
The easiest explanation is the answer to the questions, "Is the Government involved?" If the answer is yes, then it is highly likely, but not always a criminal matter. If the opposing party is an individual or company, then it is likely a civil matter.
Sometimes the Government will bring a "Civil Asset Forfeiture case against an indiviual - that is an example of a civil case. It is also possible that your civil case will have a criminal component, as is often the case in business fraud, employee issues, and neighborhood conflicts.
How much jail time am I facing?
This is a difficult question to answer because the answer depends significantly on your parole status and criminal history. Check our California criminal law defense library for punishments for crimes for first offenders, but keep in mind that this is the maximum punishment prescribed by law, and it is likely that a skilled criminal defense lawyer can negotiate a significantly reduced penalty, or even get your case dismissed outright without going to trial. If you want an aggressive criminal defense attorney in San Diego, call us today for a free consultation.
I recieved a summons (SUM-100) what do I do?
First YOU MUST attend court on the date and time listed in your summons or subpoena. There are serious consequences for missing this appointment. It is strongly suggested that you call a lawyer to assist you on the matter.
It is difficult to find a lawyer who will represent you at your initial summons for free. This is because we are ethically bound to research your issue and determine your exposure, and so that we can give you a fair estimate of what you can expect from the Court in terms of time and money.
How much is a lawyer going to cost me?
There is no single formula for determining the cost of a lawyer. Our free consultation will provide you with an analysis of your legal situation. Many attorneys offer flat fees, but it depends on the unique facts of your case, and can often result in hidden charges. We will give you information on your possible next steps - including how to find and retain the best attorney for your case.
If you are concerned about cost, we can help you budget for your defense, and explore your free legal services options in San Diego. Just because you cannot afford an attorney, that does not mean you will not be represented by some of the best attorneys in San Diego through our cities fine public and private legal services offices.
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My friend or relative has been arrested. What do I do?
Call an attorney immediately. Most criminal charges are brought because a suspect made incriminating statements to the police. The police will not give you advice, nor will they "help you out" - an attorney is the only person that a person should trust if they have been arrested.
Call us today and we will help you determine what your immediate next steps should be if a friend or family member has been arrested.
Where can I find a free lawyer in San Diego?
The answer to this question depends on your particular case. Even if you cannot afford an attorney, you will be able to work with some of the best lawyers in San Diego through some very reputable public and private agencies that provide pro bono service. Click on the links below for a full list of free and discounted legal services available to you in the San Diego area.
What are my rights? What should I do Before I Hire a San Diego Criminal Lawyer?
There are a few general principals that make it easier for a client to prevail in the criminal process:
1.) Don't talk to the police.
If you have been arrested, a police officer will act like he's your friend and tell you, "help me clear this up and we can get you out of here," or "look, I'm on your side, I just need to hear what happened so I can write it up and help you out." These are lies and your statements will be used to incriminate you.
You are under no obligation to speak to the police without an attorney present. It's one of the most important rights given to an American citizen.
2.) Don't represent yourself.
Sometimes people believe they can be their own attorney, just as effectively, if not more effectively than their assigned counsel. This is simply not true. You have the right to an attorney to advocate your case, use this right. If you need help finding an attorney, I am happy to recommend top-rated San Diego lawyers for your legal issue.
3.) Don't give consent.
The police will ask you to search your vehicle. They will say things like, "just let me look around and make sure there are no weapons," or "if you let me search your car you can get home faster, otherwise we have to wait for a warrant." MAKE THEM WAIT. A warrant requires probable cause - and often times they are bluffing - they don't have probable cause for a warrant.
4.) Speak to a lawyer first.
If you are worried that you will be arrested, call an attorney before you speak to anyone else. An experienced San Diego criminal lawyer will know how to best protect your rights, and your future. Sometimes a San Diego criminal lawyer can stop your case from even being filed.
5.) Don't Panic.
The legal process is long. If you have been arrested but can't afford an attorney, or you cannot reach your attorney until arraingment, don't not worry. The only words you need to say are "Not guilty."
Top Rated San Diego Attorneys and Free Legal Services
Just because you can't pay top dollar for a top-rated attorney, does not mean that you won't be able to hire some of the best lawyers in San Diego. These are some of the free attorneys and legal services available to you. Top quality attorneys, for free.
If you cannot afford an attorney for your criminal matter, do not worry. The San Diego Public Defenders are among the top criminal attorneys in the nation. The officer is nationally recognized as one of the best Public Defender officers in the nation. The San Diego criminal lawyers are some of the best in town.
You may not even need to hire the best attorney in San Diego to win your case. The San Diego Superior Court provides all the forms you need to participate in the legal process, for free! These are forms that San Diego criminal lawyers use on a daily basis.
Top San Diego lawyers know how important it is to give back to the community. The San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program is composed of top-rated San Diego attorneys who volunteer their time to provide access to top quality legal services.
The State Bar of California provides free referrals to top San Diego criminal lawyers. If you are looking for the place to start looking for the best criminal attorney in San Diego, we suggest you give us a call, but the State Bar Referral service is a good alternative.
The Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc. provides free legal services to persons with low income. The staff of the Legal Aid Society is comprised of some of San Diego's highest rated lawyers and paralegals.
The San Diego Family Justice Center provides a centralized location for victims of domestic violence and abuse. The Center is staffed by professional attorneys, health care practitioners, and law enforcement officials so that you don't have to worry for your safety, or money.
San Diego Civil and Criminal Self-Help Options
You may not need the best San Diego criminal lawyer, and you may not need a top-rated San Diego attorney. You may be able to resolve your legal issues by yourself. Many times a client will call with a particular legal issue, and I will advise them that they don't need to pay me to resolve their issue... because I am interested in earning my clients' trust, so that when they really need an attorney, they have one that they trust will work with their best interests in mind. A good San Diego criminal lawyer knows how to save their clients time and money.
If you need help filing or responding to an evicition, these free packets explain the process and the forms