Criminal Defense FAQ

Frequently Asked California Criminal Defense Questions

Have you recently been arrested and find yourself facing criminal charges? You may be confused, stressed, or otherwise emotionally overwhelmed by what you may be facing in the future. You may also have a number of questions circling through your head as to what to expect in the immediate future. Here are some answers to some of the most common ones.

Do I need a lawyer if I’m going to plead guilty?
You should always contact an attorney before pleading anything when it comes to a criminal charge. Your case may look hopeless and like a sure-fire guilty conviction, but a legal professional can analyze all of the evidence in your case and may advise you that pleading guilty is not the best course of action. You do not have to suffer the consequences purely because you were arrested. Likewise, an attorney can also help you argue for a reduced sentence when facing your prosecution, which can significantly reduce the impact of your conviction.

DUI Expungement Eligibility
After a conviction, a DUI charge will go on both your driving and criminal record. While a DUI in California automatically falls off a person’s DMV record after 10 years, it can stay on their criminal record for life. As a result, it may be more difficult to find a job or apply for a school that requires a background check. You may be eligible for an expungement if you have completed probation for your DUI, paid all fines and restitution, and are not facing any other charges or serving another sentence. With the help of a lawyer, you can obtain all of the court documents regarding your case and begin your petition with the court to get your DUI expunged. A copy of the petition must be served to the prosecutor. Once you have properly filed your petition, the court will set a date where the judge will review your case. If the judge grants the request, you can withdraw your guilty plea or no contest with a not guilty plea and have the case dismissed. Depending on your circumstances, the expungement process can take anywhere from 90 to 120 days. If your case is less than 10 years ago, the process will most likely be quicker.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony charge?
The easiest distinction between a misdemeanor charge and a felony is the prison sentence associated with it. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in prison while a felony charge is punishable by a year or more. There are other differences as well; a felony conviction on your criminal record may not be eligible for expungement in the future, and you could lose some of your Constitutional rights, including your ability to own or possess a firearm.

Do I have to answer law enforcement’s questions?
You do not have to answer any questions from law enforcement without a lawyer present after you are arrested. This is one of your Constitutionally-granted Miranda rights. Giving a statement or answering any questions after being arrested is completely voluntary, and it is strongly advised you exercise your right to silence until you are able to contact and retain an attorney. Remember: police can and will use anything you say against you in court.

Will my case go to trial?
This largely depends on your case and your attorney. If a verdict cannot be reached prior to you going to trial, you will be forced to go to court. However, a skilled lawyer may be able to help you avoid going to court all together by convincing the prosecution your case is not worth pursuing or that your case was not filed on legal grounds. If either of these are true, your case may be dismissed outright.

What is the difference between probation and parole?
In short, probation is an alternative to prison, while parole is a shortened amount of time spent in prison. If you are placed on probation, you do not have to serve a jail sentence, but instead have to regularly check in with your probation officer, attend a rehab program, and keep your nose clean of any other criminal activity. Parole is what allows certain individuals to complete their criminal sentence outside of jail if they’ve already completed a portion of their prison sentence.

Experienced Modesto Criminal Defense Legal Counsel

If you need further advice as to your specific criminal charges, do not hesitate to contact a Modesto criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney Mark W. Girdner of the Law Offices of Mark W. Girdner is a former Deputy District Attorney, now fighting to protect those facing criminal charges.

Call the Law Offices of Mark. W Girdner today to schedule your free consultation! Dial 209.326.1533.