You Need An Experienced Criminal Attorney
Defense Lawyer Since 1976
Attorney Eugene E. Kinsey has been a criminal
defense lawyer since 1976. Our offices
provide criminal defense from an experience criminal attorney
in a wide variety of criminal matters including:
- Felonies & Misdemeanors
- White Collar Crimes
- Drug Offenses
- Property Crimes
- Assault & Battery
- Domestic Violence
- Probation Violations
The California Penal Code divides
offenses into three major categories: felonies, misdemeanors,
and infractions. Felonies are crimes for which a person
may be sentenced to imprisonment in the state prison or
to death. Misdemeanors are lesser crimes for which a person
may be sentenced to imprisonment in a jail. Infractions
are not punished by imprisonment at all, and include such
offenses as trespassing on land with a vehicle, being under
21 years of age and possessing alcohol, and disturbing the
peace. Children under the age of 14 are not capable of committing
crimes according to California law, unless the prosecutor
presents clear proof that the child had knowledge of the
wrongfulness of his or her action.
Under the Penal Code, misdemeanors
range from driving on private land without the owner's consent
to fraudulently avoiding the payment of a railroad fare
to paying birth parents to adopt their child. Under the
law, many crimes are misdemeanors on the first offense,
but become felonies on the second offense. This means that,
for example, the crime of indecent exposure is a misdemeanor
the first time a person is convicted. The second or subsequent
offense of indecent exposure is charged as a felony. Similarly,
using a telecommunication device to avoid payment of telecommunication
charges is a misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony
for subsequent offenses.
As mentioned, misdemeanors usually
carry a maximum punishment of a fine and less than one year
of incarceration. Crimes for which a person may be punished
by more than one year in jail or in prison are categorized
in California as felonies.
Criminal procedures vary depending
on whether the crime involved is a felony or a misdemeanor.
This is the defendant's first court hearing. The defendant
is given the opportunity at this hearing to plead "guilty"
or "not guilty". It is raraly advisable to plead
guilty at this stage of the proceedings. The second hearing
- the "pretrial conference" is the time for the
defendant to negotiate for a disposition of the case if
one is going to be possible.
This is a conference set usually 2 to 3 weeks after the
arraignment to allow the defendant and his/her attorney
to negotiate a settlement of the case with the district
attorney. If a negotiated disposition can be reached at
this stage of the proceedings, the defendant will enter
a plea or the matter will be dismissed. If there is no disposition,
the court will set a trial date (if one was not already
set at the arraignment).
If no disposition of the case is reached at the Pre-Trial
conference stage, your case will be set for jury trial.
The defendant may opt to have the matter heard before a
judge without a jury. Procedures at the trial stage vary
greatly depending on the nature and complexity of the case.
After a conviction or a gulty plea the court will sentence
the defendant. If the defendant waives time for sentencing,
the court may do so immediately. The court may also set
a later date for sentencing and order a report from the
probation department to aid the court.
The first appearance in felonly matters is an arraignment
in a lower court - what used to be called the municipal
court before the courts in California were consolidated
into a single superior court. At this hearing the judge
will set a date for a "Preliminary Hearing" to
determine whether the defendant will be bound over to the
higher court. If the defendant is in custody, the court
will determine whether he/she will be allowed to post bail.
At the preliminary hearing the district must put on enough
evidence to establish that there is probable cause to believe
that a felony has been committed and that the defendant
should be bound over for trial in the higher court - what
used to be called the Superior Court. The standards for
evidence necessary to show probable cause are very low at
this hearing. Most defendants are bound over for trial.
Arraignment In The Higher
If the defendant is boud over for felony trial, the court
will set another arraignment in the higher court and the
defendant will again be given an opportunity to plead
guilty or not guilty.
The court will generally set a pre-trial conference about
2 or 3 weeks after the arraignment. At this hearing, you
and your attorney will have an opportunity to try to negotiate
a settlement of the case.
If the case does not settle at the pre-trial conference
stage, the matter will be set for jury trial. Procedures
at the trial will vary depending on the nature and complexity
of the case.
After a felony conviction the court will generally set a later
date for sentencing and order a report from the probation
department to aid the court.
$300 per hour against
a $3,000 minimum fee to be paid in advance