Have You Been Accused of a Crime in Orange County but No Charges Have Been Filed Yet?
Being charged with a crime can have serious adverse consequences that extend far beyond costly fines and time in jail, to affect your personal and professional life. Unfortunately, even allegations of a criminal offense can adversely affect your career, your professional reputation and your standing in the community, and if you are arrested for, charged with and convicted of the crime, the potential consequences are all the more severe. Fortunately, there are instances where prompt investigation and intervention by an experienced defense attorney can either lessen the severity of the criminal charges or possibly even result in the charges not being filed at all. If you have been accused of a crime but have not yet been charged, call our Orange County criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group as soon as possible. We may be able to prevent any criminal charges from being filed against you, but it is imperative that you act quickly to protect your rights.
Affordable Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
The state of California is notoriously tough on crime, and Orange County police, prosecutors and judges have a tendency to deal with criminal defendants harshly, even before they have been tried or found guilty of any wrongdoing. In many cases, prosecutors are reluctant to reduce criminal charges once they have been filed and judges have the prerogative to dole out severe sentences for criminal convictions that can have lasting personal and professional consequences. If you can avoid being charged with a crime altogether by hiring a criminal defense attorney to advocate for you and protect your rights, you can prevent the legal consequences and social stigma that typically accompany a conviction. At Seyb Law Group, our defense attorneys understand how devastating being accused of a crime can be for you and your loved ones, and we will do everything in our power to help you avoid being charged.
The Criminal Court Process
The Orange County criminal justice system is complex and multifaceted, and there are procedures that must be followed before criminal charges can be filed. After making an arrest or investigating suspected criminal activity, the police will typically present their evidence to the District Attorney, the chief prosecutor for Orange County criminal cases. The D.A. will examine the evidence and decide whether there is probable cause to file criminal charges and if there is, what charges should be filed. In most cases, the D.A.’s decision is based solely on the information obtained by the police. However, if you are arrested for a criminal offense or you learn that you are the target of a criminal investigation, and you hire a defense attorney right away, your attorney may also be able to meet with the D.A. during this time to present evidence, witness statements and other information in your defense. In many cases, having both sides of the story, rather than just the information provided by the police and the alleged victim, which claims that you committed a crime, can help the D.A. decide to file a reduced criminal charge – a misdemeanor charge rather than a felony, for example – or decide not to file criminal charges at all.
Immediate Benefits of Early Legal Intervention
Being convicted of a criminal offense is something that can follow you for the rest of your life, and generally speaking, the punishment you face upon conviction for an Orange County crime depends on the severity of the crime you are charged with. For instance, if you are arrested for a first DUI offense in Orange County, you could face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines, plus other potential penalties. If you are arrested for rape in Orange County, a much more serious crime than DUI, you could face felony charges, even for a first offense. As a felony, this crime is punishable by up to eight years in state prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines, plus other potential penalties. No matter what crime you are suspected of committing, if your defense attorney can intervene in the prosecution’s case at the earliest stages and get the charges dismissed or reduced, you could avoid facing criminal charges altogether or at least face reduced penalties for a lesser charge.
Long-Term Benefits of Early Legal Intervention
In addition to the immediate benefits of a dismissal or reduction of criminal charges, there are also a number of long-lasting advantages to hiring a defense attorney to argue your case on your behalf from the very beginning, before charges are even filed. Besides the direct criminal penalties associated with a conviction, having a criminal conviction on your record can also have a number of collateral consequences that can affect your employment prospects, professional licensing and immigration status, as well as your civil rights, child custody rights and other important rights. A prior conviction can also mean you may face increased penalties for any subsequent offenses, especially if the prior conviction is for a serious or violent felony. Under California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law, a defendant with one prior conviction for a serious or violent felony who is facing charges for a subsequent offense can face double the prison sentence otherwise required by law, and a defendant with two “strike” priors can face an automatic prison sentence of 25 years to life.
Orange County CA Criminal Defense
Being investigated or arrested for a crime can be stressful and confusing, especially if you have little to no experience with the Orange County criminal justice system, and that is where we come in. Most people incorrectly assume that hiring a defense attorney doesn’t become necessary until criminal charges are formally filed, and many defense lawyers retained by a defendant take a wait-and-see approach to criminal cases, waiting to see what charges are filed before taking action to fight the charges. On the contrary, our defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group understand that, no matter what crime you are being investigated for, there is simply no time to waste. Truth be told, some of the most crucial defense work is often done in the first few days following an arrest, or prior to criminal charges being filed, when it is still sometimes possible to avoid the charges altogether. We believe that by being proactive on behalf of our clients and getting to work immediately, we can get a head start on beating criminal charges and safeguarding our clients’ freedom.
What to Do After an Arrest
The most important thing to remember is that being accused of a crime is not the same thing as a conviction. Just because you are under investigation for or have been arrested for a crime, does not automatically mean you will be found guilty of any wrongdoing. For first-time offenders in particular, being accused of committing a crime may seem like the end of the world, but it is important to remember that you still have rights, including the right to legal counsel and a fair trial. Our defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group are committed to helping you get the best possible outcome in your case, and if we are able to help you avoid criminal charges from being filed altogether, you won’t have to worry about the criminal penalties or social stigma that typically accompany a conviction.
Don’t Talk to the Police or Investigators
Remember that the police are not on your side, no matter what they say to try to get you to talk. In fact, the main objective of the police is to aid the prosecution in gathering enough evidence to build a case against you, which is why you should never speak to the police without an attorney present. Far too often, we hear from clients who thought they could explain their way out of being charged with a crime, only to end up making incriminating statements that hurt their case later on. Your first course of action after being arrested or after finding out that you are the subject of a criminal investigation should be to contact a skilled and aggressive defense attorney who can ensure that you understand your rights and apprise you of the best course of action based on your specific situation.
Orange County Statute of Limitations
In Orange County, there is a criminal statute of limitations law in place that sets specific time limits for how long a prosecutor may wait to file formal charges against a suspect in a criminal investigation. In many cases, criminal charges are filed promptly. However, the prosecution may delay filing charges in an attempt to gather additional evidence, and the statute of limitations law prevents the prosecutor from delaying prosecution to the extent that it becomes unfair to the defendant. Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for most misdemeanor offenses in Orange County is one year, while the statute of limitations for a felony offense is three years for offenses punishable by imprisonment, and six years for offenses punishable by eight or more years in prison.
The statute of limitations law in the California Penal Code is complex and full of exceptions, which is why it helps to have a knowledgeable defense attorney on your side when determining how the law applies to your situation. For example, under California Penal Code § 799 PC, “Prosecution for an offense punishable by death or by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for life without the possibility of parole, or for the embezzlement of public money, may be commenced at any time.” In other words, for serious crimes like murder or the embezzlement of public funds, there is no statute of limitations.
How Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
The criminal justice system is designed to protect both crime victims, by arresting, charging and prosecuting criminal offenders, and those who are wrongfully accused, by requiring a high standard of proof in criminal cases. Unfortunately, the justice system is inherently flawed and just because you are innocent of a crime does not mean you can’t still be convicted and sent to jail. In fact, the majority of people assume that most defendants charged with crimes are, and will be found guilty, which is in direct opposition to the crucial legal principle known as the presumption of innocence. You may believe that your innocence is enough of a defense against criminal charges, but the truth is that wrongful convictions happen more often than you might think, which is why representing yourself in a criminal case is never a good idea.
A good criminal defense attorney has spent years studying and practicing criminal law and is familiar with the inner workings of the complex criminal justice system. The main objective of your criminal defense attorney will be to gather evidence in support of your case, and that typically means examining the facts of your case, identifying and interviewing witnesses, and developing a defense strategy that challenges the prosecution’s evidence against you. Some people think that hiring an attorney before even being charged is an unnecessary precaution or a needless cost, but the truth is, the cost of a criminal conviction is far higher. And unless you have the skill and experience necessary to defend yourself against the District Attorney, a conviction is what you could be facing.
Presumption of Innocence and Burden of Proof
Under Orange County law, all defendants in criminal cases are presumed innocent unless proven guilty, and the standard of evidence in these cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That means the prosecution bears the burden of proving its case to the extent that there can be no reasonable doubt in the mind of a reasonable person that the defendant is guilty of the crime, or else the defendant cannot lawfully be convicted. A skilled criminal defense attorney will use every resource at his or her disposal to challenge the allegations against you and hold the prosecution to its requisite burden of proof.
Contact Our Orange County Criminal Defense Attorneys
Being convicted of a criminal offense in Orange County can have long-lasting repercussions that can affect virtually every aspect of your life, possibly causing you to lose your job and destroying your relationships with friends and loved ones. If you believe you are the target of a criminal investigation, or you think you may be charged with a crime in Orange County or the surrounding counties, no matter how minor the crime may be, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights. Contact our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group right away to find out how you can avoid criminal charges. By acting early to defend your rights and prevent criminal charges from being filed, your defense attorney may be able to protect your freedom, your reputation and your future.