Criminal Defense FAQ

Whether you’ve just been arrested or have already been formally charged with a crime, you probably have a lot of questions about what you’re about to experience. The more answers you have, the better equipped you’ll be to build and argue a successful defense. 

Our San Diego criminal defense attorney has the answers to your most important questions. If you still have questions or need assistance with your defense, don’t hesitate to contact our San Diego law office at (619) 357-4977 for immediate counseling and guidance. Your first consultation is free, and we are available to meet at a time and location that’s convenient for you.

Can I Get Arrested If the Police Don’t Have a Warrant?

Yes. Law enforcement officers aren’t required to have an arrest warrant to take you into custody and charge you with a crime. But, they must have probable cause to believe that you’ve committed a crime. Warrantless arrests are usually made after an officer witnesses a crime in progress.

After charges are filed, the validity of a warrantless arrest can be challenged in court. So, if you are arrested and the officer does not have a warrant, be sure to make a note of everything that happens. A police officer’s mistake or error in judgment can be used to your advantage. There’s a chance that the arrest – and related criminal charges – can be invalidated.

How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me? What Will They Do to Investigate and Build My Defense?

Hiring a team with the best criminal defense attorneys in San Diego is an important first step when facing criminal charges. 

A defense attorney will put you on a level playing field with the district attorney and state government (and/or federal government if you’re facing federal criminal charges). You’ll benefit from your attorney’s expertise, experience, and resources.

Additionally, attorneys construct a customized defense just for you, based mainly on the investigation they conduct and the research they do.

As part of this process, your San Diego criminal attorney will:

  • Search for and obtain exculpatory evidence that (a) proves your innocence, (b) establishes an alibi, and/or (c) offers doubt as to your guilt
  • Consider the state’s evidence and determine if and how it can be challenged or discounted
  • Interview witnesses and relevant parties to gather information and facts about your case
  • Cross-examine witnesses or experts offered by the state to discredit them or poke holes in their stories or offerings
  • Analyze existing case law for precedent that may help create your specific defense strategy
  • Hire experts to analyze evidence and offer testimony to support your defense
  • Determine if your rights have been violated, and if so, use that information to challenge the prosecution’s case and/or evidence.

Investigating an alleged crime, analyzing the state’s case, and building a defense is a complicated and detailed process. This isn’t something you’ll want to handle on your own when your future is on the line.

Can’t I Hire a Public Defender? Do I Need to Hire a Private Defense Attorney?

San Diego Public Defenders are hard-working attorneys who dedicate their careers to helping their clients fight serious criminal charges. But, they’re typically overworked and juggling multiple cases at once. It’s possible that your defense won’t get the dedicated time and attention that you’ll want and need. 

Private defense attorneys have more control over their respective caseloads. Many, like Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers, limit the number of cases we handle at once. This way, we’re able to ensure that each client benefits from the full scope of our experience, knowledge, and attention.

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer If I’m Innocent?

Absolutely. You can still be arrested and charged with a crime if you’re innocent. Innocent people are convicted every day, too. Even if you’re not convicted, the district attorney might try to convince you that a plea bargain is your only option.

As a result, you could accept a punishment (even a minor one) for a crime that you didn’t commit. And, to make matters worse, that crime will end up on your criminal record and wreak havoc for years to come.

Prosecutors are out to convict. They will do everything they can to tell a story where it seems plausible that you’re guilty. Hiring a defense attorney helps ensure that your rights are protected and that you aren’t pressured into accepting a “deal” because the government tells you it’s your best option.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer in San Diego will know these tactics well and have their own strategies to protect you.

What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony in California?

Most crimes in California are charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors are crimes that are generally punishable by less than one year in county jail. Felonies are crimes that carry one year or more in county jail or California state prison.

Misdemeanors tend to be less serious than felonies. However, don’t assume that you shouldn’t hire an attorney because you’re charged with a misdemeanor. The consequences of a misdemeanor – in addition to time behind bars – can be harsh. You can be subject to expensive fines, required to complete probation, ordered to do community service, and more. 

Plus, having a conviction on your criminal history, regardless of what it is, can have serious repercussions in your civil and social lives. You could lose your professional license, have difficulty finding a job, or even face challenges in child custody and other family law disputes.

Should I Accept a Plea Agreement?

A plea agreement generally involves pleading guilty to a crime or pleading “no contest.” You generally accept a plea agreement in exchange for reduced charges and/or penalties.

However, the only time you should accept a plea agreement is if you’ve conferred with an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney. Don’t just take a deal because prosecutors tell you it’s a good one. Your attorney will help you understand the deal terms and explain the impact it will have. 

Plea bargains can be a good thing, especially if the government is willing to offer reduced charges and relatively moderate penalties. However, it’s always best to ensure that an attorney is reviewing (and/or negotiating) anything that will have such a permanent impact on your future.

You could still be facing years in prison and other consequences that can be life-altering, so it’s important to have all of the facts before making a deal.

Will My Criminal Case Go to Trial?

It’s possible but unlikely. The United States government estimates that 90% of criminal cases are resolved through plea bargains or alternatives to sentencing. If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, there’s about a 1 in 10 chance that you’ll end up going to trial. 

Ultimately, however, whether or not your case goes to trial is really up to you. If you accept a plea, then you won’t go to trial. If you and your attorney think that you’re not getting a fair deal – or if you need to prove that you’re innocent – moving forward to trial might be the best option.

Every case (and every defendant) is different. Your attorney will be there to guide you and help you make the tough decisions, like whether you should accept a deal or push forward to trial.

What Experts Can Be Used to Help the Defense in a Criminal Case?

Attorneys, especially experienced defense attorneys, will know quite a bit more than the average person about things like ballistics, drug tests, DNA, and other aspects of criminal cases. However, they won’t be an expert on these matters. But they can hire experts to offer important insight into complicated aspects of your criminal case.

There are a wide variety of experts that might be helpful, including:

  • Medical professionals
  • Certified appraisers
  • Forensic accountants
  • Breathalyzer Test experts
  • Ballistics specialists
  • Psychologists
  • Crime scene reconstructionists
  • Computer and Information Technology specialists
  • Forensic scientists and DNA experts
  • Toxicologists
  • Domestic violence specialists
  • Former law enforcement officials, and more.

These professionals can be hired to rebut experts presented by the state, challenge the validity of arguments or evidence raised by the prosecution, or offer support to your defense.

Benefit From More Than a Decade of Criminal Defense Experience

San Diego criminal defense lawyer Peter Blair advocates for clients facing serious misdemeanor and felony charges throughout Southern California. If you’ve been accused of a crime and have any questions about your criminal case, or if you want to learn more about how we can help you fight back and defend your future, don’t hesitate to call.

The legal team at Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers can arrange to speak on the phone or meet in person at a time and place that’s convenient for you. Give us a call or contact us online today to learn more.