Los Angeles Felonies Attorney
If you have been arrested for any criminal charge in Los Angeles, CA, this can be a frightening and isolating experience. Whether you broke the law and need help mitigating your impending sentence or you have been wrongfully accused of a crime, it is essential to know the value of reliable legal representation in any Los Angeles criminal case. This is especially true if you face felony charges.
Representing Los Angeles Clients Charged With Felony Offenses
The Law Office of Stein & Markus understands the distress and uncertainty anyone can experience after an arrest. Our team has decades of professional experience on both sides of the California criminal justice system. Attorney Andrew Stein has more than 20 years of experience as a California criminal defense attorney. Attorney Joseph Markus spent more than 30 years as a Los Angeles prosecutor before moving to criminal defense. This wide breadth of experience on both sides of the criminal justice system means that our firm is uniquely equipped to handle the most challenging criminal cases.
The right legal representation can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of any criminal case. Your Los Angeles felonies attorney must be able to assess the severity of the charges against you quickly and accurately and review the details of your case meticulously to identify your best opportunities for defending yourself from conviction. After an arrest for any Los Angeles felony, it is essential to exercise your constitutional rights and secure the legal counsel you need to approach your case with confidence.
Why Do I Need a Los Angeles Felonies Attorney?
Every American citizen has constitutional rights that come into play when the police arrest them for any criminal charges, no matter their severity. When the police conduct a lawful arrest, they must read the suspect their Miranda rights, a statement that outlines their two most critical constitutional protections: the Fifth Amendment right to protection from self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel.
When the police arrest you, they will inform you that “you have the right to remain silent, and anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.” Police must create extensive reports of every arrest they conduct, including recording statements from the suspect and anyone else involved with the arrest. Some suspects, especially those who are wrongfully accused, feel compelled to explain their situations to avoid arrest. This can backfire very easily, so it is always best to say nothing until you have secured defense counsel. Cooperate with the police through the arrest and booking processes and exercise your right to a phone call to reach out to a criminal defense attorney at your earliest opportunity.
The police will also inform a suspect that they have the right to an attorney. If the suspect cannot afford to hire a criminal defense lawyer or does not wish to hire one, the court can appoint a public defender to handle their defense representation. Many people believe that simply relying on public defenders is suitable for their situations, and they can avoid the expense of private defense representation in this way. However, it is crucial to understand the differences between what a public defender can offer and what a seasoned private Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can provide in handling your defense.
Public Defenders Versus Private Defense Lawyers
A public defender is a court-appointed lawyer representing a defendant who is unable or unwilling to pay for a private defense attorney. Most public defenders are experienced, capable, and hardworking lawyers who do their best for every client they represent. However, public defenders typically manage multiple cases at a time. This gives them very little room to provide much individual attention to any given client. Even the best public defenders may only be able to offer an hour or two each day to any particular case.
Public defenders may only have the time and flexibility to provide the most basic levels of criminal defense representation to their clients. By comparison, a private criminal defense firm like the Law Office of Stein & Markus can provide more robust and focused defense representation, helping their client explore every available defense and investing as much time as is necessary to cultivate a strong defense on their client’s behalf. But, ultimately, even the best public defenders cannot match the level of comprehensive, individualized legal representation an experienced Los Angeles felonies lawyer can provide.
How Much Do Criminal Attorneys Cost in California?
The anticipated high cost of private criminal defense assume they cannot afford to hire private defense attorneys or that investing in private defense counsel is not necessary for their situations. While legal fees for a private criminal defense lawyer will be more expensive than a public defender who represents a client free of charge, the difference in the quality of representation is unmistakable.
The Law Office of Stein & Markus understands that the cost of private defense counsel may seem prohibitively expensive to some defendants in Los Angeles. Our team believes in making criminal defense representation accessible and affordable to those who need it most. When you choose our firm to represent you in a Los Angeles felony case, we’ll carefully review our billing policies with you so you know exactly what to expect when it comes to your legal fees. In addition, we’ll provide complete and accurate breakdowns of every hour we spend working on your case so you can have peace of mind about your defense representation through every stage of your case.
Misdemeanor VS Felony in Los Angeles County
There are many types of criminal offenses in California. Infractions are the least serious, often result in penalties including fines and community service, and may ultimately pose a minimal impact on the defendant’s future. The next level of criminal offenses is misdemeanors, which are more serious than infractions and entail harsher penalties. Some misdemeanor convictions can lead to several months or even a year or longer in county jail, significant fines, and other penalties. Finally, felonies are the most severe criminal offenses prosecuted in California. Even the least severe felonies in Los Angeles can lead to years in state prison, costly fines, a loss of the defendant’s constitutional rights, and other long-term consequences.
California has some of the most complicated criminal statutes and policies in the United States due to several factors. For years, California has had one of the highest overall crime rates of all the states in the US. However, recent years have seen a slew of new criminal law reforms streamlining the California criminal justice system. Many offenses that previously qualified as felonies now qualify as misdemeanors, allowing the court system to quickly process these cases. Navigating these recent reforms requires competent and experienced defense counsel who keeps track of the latest changes in criminal law from the California state legislature.
The Law Office of Stein & Markus can provide the robust defense counsel you need when faced with felony charges of any kind in Los Angeles. Due to the nature of most of the recent criminal law reforms in California, offenses that now qualify as felonies are severe and generally entail extreme penalties. Without the right attorney handling your case, you could face years in prison, tens of thousands of dollars in fines, and long-term personal and professional consequences that negatively impact your life for years to come.
State and Federal Felonies in Los Angeles
It’s important to understand that it is possible to face felony charges at state and federal levels. For example, suppose you were arrested by the LAPD, the California Highway Patrol, or another state-level law enforcement agency. In that case, your case is likely to unfold at the state level, and you face California’s sentencing standards. However, suppose you were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In that case, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), or any other federal law enforcement agency, your felony case will unfold at the federal level.
Facing federal felony charges generally entails more severe penalties than state-level felony charges, and the legal proceedings for your federal felony case will be much more challenging to navigate without the right defense attorney managing your case. Therefore, if you are arrested for federal crimes, securing defense representation from a Los Angeles felonies attorney who has substantial experience in the federal criminal justice system is vital.
At the state level, many felonies are closely tied to misdemeanor offenses. However, California’s penal code also includes many “wobbler” offenses that may qualify as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the aggravating and mitigating factors present in a particular case. Aggravating factors work against the defendant and increase the chance of conviction while mitigating factors work in the defendant’s favor and decrease the chance of maximum sentencing.
The Law Office of Stein & Markus can help our clients secure the evidence and testimony they may need to secure lighter sentencing or avoid conviction altogether, depending on the nature of the charges against them. In California, various offenses can qualify as misdemeanors or felonies, and it is essential to know what the felony-level offenses entail in terms of punishment.
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is illegal and highly dangerous in every state. Each state upholds unique DUI laws that outline the penalties for various forms of DUI offenses. For example, in California, a DUI is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor except in specific circumstances:
- If the defendant is being charged with their fourth DUI offense within 10 years, the charge automatically escalates to felony status.
- If the defendant has any prior conviction for felony DUI, a subsequent DUI offense automatically qualifies as a felony.
- If the defendant caused an accident while under the influence that resulted in bodily injury or death to another person, the offense automatically qualifies as a felony.
California defines DUI as operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher or obvious intoxication with illicit drugs. The BAC limit is .04% for commercial drivers, and California enforces a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21 because they are not legally allowed to purchase or consume alcohol. After the police conduct a lawful arrest for DUI, the suspect must submit to a chemical test, or they face an automatic administrative suspension of their driver’s license, and if they are later found guilty, harsher sentencing.
The penalties for felony DUI in California are substantial. The defendant could face from 16 months up to four years in state prison, fines up to $10,000 plus penalty assessments, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to one year, and a suspension of their driver’s license. The judge handling sentencing will also likely sentence them to restitution to any victims harmed by their actions. In addition, the defendant may be vulnerable to civil claims from the victim or the victim’s family. Additional possible penalties for felony DUI can include mandatory drug and alcohol treatment, mandatory DUI school at the defendant’s expense, community service, and participation in victim impact panels.
Felony Drug Crimes
California legislators recently enacted sweeping changes to the drug laws of California in response to the passing of Proposition 47, which reduced the penalty for most drug possession offenses in California to misdemeanor status. As a result, if you were arrested for possession of any Schedule drug in Los Angeles, you will likely be prosecuted at the misdemeanor level. However, aggravating factors and drug offenses beyond the scope of simple possession may still qualify for felony prosecution.
The aggravating factors that can change a drug possession offense from misdemeanor to felony status typically include the type of drug in question and the quantity of the drug in the defendant’s possession. For example, if you were arrested for possessing a small amount of cocaine in a single baggy that logically indicated you intended it for personal use, this would likely qualify as simple possession at the misdemeanor level. However, if you were arrested in possession of several kilograms of cocaine, many baggies, and measuring devices that indicated you planned to divide it into individual doses, this evidence would indicate you planned to sell or distribute the cocaine and would likely qualify for felony prosecution.
Your Los Angeles felonies lawyer will help you determine your best available defenses if you face felony drug charges in California. Depending on the factors of your case, it may be possible to avoid the worst elements of sentencing by proving the police mishandled your arrest or compromised the evidence in some way. It’s also possible to plea bargain for alternative or diversionary sentencing, such as mandatory rehab instead of prison time.
Felony Sex Crimes
Sex crimes are criminal offenses of a sexual nature. Due to the severe nature of most of these offenses, the majority of sex crimes prosecuted in Los Angeles are felonies. While some more innocuous sex crimes like lewd acts in public or solicitation of prostitution often qualify as misdemeanors, more serious sex crimes such as sexual assault, sexual battery, rape, and sexual abuse of minors are felonies and carry lifelong consequences for most defendants.
When a sex crime involves a victim, such as sexual battery or rape, the offender will very likely face felony charges, and the harshness of the penalty depends on the nature of the offense and the age of the victim. Sexual crimes against children are always felonies that typically lead to many years in state prison, heavy fines, and various other penalties. Additionally, a conviction for a sex crime will typically require the offender to register as a sex offender. They may need to register for several years at the misdemeanor level, whereas a felony conviction of a sex offense will likely lead to lifelong sex offender status.
Defending Your Rights Against Criminal Charges
“Assault” is a commonly misunderstood term in the California criminal justice system. The term “assault” refers to advancing upon an individual or threatening an individual with bodily harm with clearly harmful intent and the ability to carry out a threat. This is commonly conflated with “assault and battery,” which are two separate offenses. “Battery” refers to the completion of a threat. For example, if an individual raises their fist and threatens to punch another person in the face, this qualifies as assault. However, if they punched the other person, they commit assault and battery.
Simple assault in California is a misdemeanor, but an assault case can quickly escalate to felony status if any aggravating factors are present. Some of the ways in which assault escalates to a felony include:
- Completion of a threat, constituting assault and battery, which results in bodily harm to the victim.
- Use of a deadly weapon, even if the weapon is not actively used in the situation. Brandishing a deadly weapon like a firearm can be enough to qualify for felony prosecution.
- Assault with a caustic chemical, such as bleach or acid, qualifies as a felony.
- Assault of a public official.
Many assault offenses in Los Angeles are wobblers, so it’s vital to have reliable legal counsel you can trust if you want to avoid felony conviction in your assault case.
Killing another person is one of the most serious criminal offenses in California and throughout the US. In most cases, homicide of any kind qualifies for felony prosecution. Various aggravating factors can lead to very harsh penalties for the defendant. For example, intentional killing of another person qualifies for first-degree murder charges. However, the accidental killing of another person may qualify as involuntary manslaughter and lead to lighter sentencing.
It’s vital to explore all possible avenues of defense if you face felony homicide charges. For example, California law acknowledges self-defense as an affirmative defense against homicide charges as long as there was a clear and obvious threat of death or extreme bodily harm from the deceased. At the Law Office of Stein & Markus, we take felony homicide cases very seriously and help our clients determine their best approaches to these matters.
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Felony Theft Offenses
Theft is the illegal taking of another person’s property or willingly depriving another person of their property. California’s penal code defines theft in two main categories: petty theft, which applies to theft of goods valued at less than $950, and grand theft, which applies when more than $950 in goods or property is stolen. Grand theft is a wobbler offense in California, meaning it is possible to face misdemeanor or felony conviction for this offense. Felony grand theft carries a potential sentence of 16 months to up to three years in prison, but it’s possible to face a more severe sentence based on the unique details of the case.
Felony White-Collar Crimes
The term “white-collar crime” typically refers to criminal offenses that are financial. This may include theft, but unlike simple theft, such as stealing items from a store or a person’s home, theft as a white-collar crime generally includes fraud, deceptive business practices, or stealing from business assets. Some white-collar crimes qualify as misdemeanors. Defendants in these cases can face several months up to one year in county jail, fines, and restitution to victims of their illegal activities. However, white-collar crimes prosecuted at the felony level are more severe and carry harsher penalties. Some examples of white-collar crimes that can qualify for felony prosecution include:
- Defrauding a government agency or programs, such as Medi-Cal or Medicaid fraud.
- Embezzlement from an employer.
- Insurance fraud.
- Identity theft, which describes the unlawful possession and use of another person’s identifying information.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the types of white-collar crimes that may constitute felonies. Additionally, various aggravating factors can come into play that increase the defendant’s sentence. For example, a white-collar felony could lead to several years in state prison, but if the defendant caused a victim to lose more than $10,000, their sentence could increase by one to two years. If the alleged victim lost more than $500,000 due to the defendant’s actions, the defendant could face up to five additional years in prison.
Many white-collar crimes involve months or years of illegal activity and deliberate exploitative, deceptive, and unethical actions. As a result, it is very easy for a white-collar crime case to involve several aggravating factors, and the defendant could face not only several years in prison but also loss of their professional licenses, restitution to victims, asset seizure, and a loss of their constitutional rights for many years.
How to Choose the Right Lawyer for a Los Angeles Felony
Finding the right Los Angeles felonies lawyer can seem like an incredible challenge, and your search for a defense attorney may seem to add more stress to an already stressful situation. However, there are a few things you should consider carefully before agreeing to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney’s representation:
- Experience. This is ultimately the most important consideration whenever you are evaluating a criminal defense attorney. Before agreeing to hire a Los Angeles felonies lawyer, make sure they have substantial experience with California criminal defense and more specific experience handling cases similar to yours.
- Accessibility. How many cases does the prospective attorney manage at once? For example, suppose you are going to hire a criminal defense lawyer. In that case, it’s essential to ensure they will be available to answer your questions, address your concerns, and devote the time necessary to create an effective defense on your behalf.
- Responsiveness. How easy will it be for you to contact the defense attorney? A good defense lawyer should maintain consistent contact with their client, providing them with multiple options for reaching out to them and offering timely updates as the case unfolds.
- Defense philosophy. Will the defense attorney attempt to fight your charges and help you secure a not guilty verdict? Will they examine the actions of the police and prosecution and aim for an acquittal or mistrial? Or will they focus on mitigating your sentence through a plea bargain? It’s vital to know how the defense attorney intends to handle your case and their initial interpretation of your legal options before agreeing to their representation.
What Can a Los Angeles Felonies Attorney Do for Me?
The Law Office of Stein & Markus has decades of experience working within the California criminal justice system. Our team knows that every case is unique, and every defendant deserves comprehensive, personalized defense representation for them to have the best chance of avoiding the worst penalties they face. Therefore, when you choose our firm as your Los Angeles felonies attorneys, we will carefully examine every detail of your case to explore every possible avenue of defense that might be available to you.
It’s important to note that even for the worst felonies, the burden of proof in a criminal case rests on the prosecution. This means the prosecutors filing a felony case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, and the jury handling the case must deliver a unanimous verdict that they believe the defendant to be guilty. Your Los Angeles felonies attorney must not only gather any exculpatory or mitigating evidence that might work in your favor but also attack the prosecution’s case at the foundational level.
An excellent criminal defense lawyer will carefully examine the circumstances of their client’s arrest and booking to ensure the police or arresting agency followed the laws of due process and respected the defendant’s civil and constitutional rights. If any missteps are identified, the defense attorney can leverage these facts in their client’s favor, potentially proving that the prosecution has failed to make a case due to mishandling the evidence or failure to uphold due process.
If you know you made a mistake and broke the law, it is still possible to avoid conviction if the prosecution cannot prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if the prosecution has a solid case against you, your best option may be to move to plea bargaining. A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the defense. In exchange for a guilty plea from the defendant, the prosecution may be willing to agree to reduced charges or a lighter sentence. This may be the best some defendants can hope for, depending on the severity of their charges. The Law Office of Stein & Markus can help you determine whether plea bargaining or fighting your charges in court would be the best option for your situation.
Secure Your Defense Counsel Today
Time is a critical factor in any criminal case. While it’s natural to feel isolated and uncertain about your situation after an arrest, it is crucial to remember your constitutional rights and exercise them to the fullest possible extent. After the police place you under arrest, do not say anything until you secure legal counsel. Once the police finish their booking process, you should have the opportunity to make three phone calls under California state law. Make sure one of those calls is to the Law Office of Stein & Markus.
As soon as you retain our firm’s services, we will move quickly to help you determine your best approach to the situation. We can assist you in preparing for your arraignment and bail hearing, determine which defenses are likely to work best for your felony case, and provide ongoing support and guidance through every phase of your case. Your situation is not as hopeless as it may seem at first when you have the right attorneys representing you. If you have been arrested for any felony in Los Angeles, CA, contact the Law Office of Stein & Markus to schedule a consultation with an experienced Los Angeles felonies lawyer.
Call Us for a Free Consultation With a Los Angeles Felonies Attorney
If you or someone you love was convicted of felony murder in the past, now is the time to speak with an attorney about possible sentence reduction. The team at The Law Office of Stein & Markus in Bellflower is ready to help. Call us at (562) 512-7030 or contact us online to get the process started.
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