KINSEY LAW OFFICES
Criminal Defense
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When You Need An Experienced Criminal Attorney
Criminal Defense Lawyer Since 1976
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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

Procedural Overview:

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.

Misdemeanor Procedures

The Arraignment
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.

The Pre-Trial Conference
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).

The Trial
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.

Sentencing
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.

Felony Procedures

Initial Arraignment
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.

Preliminary Hearing
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 Court
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.

Pre-Trial Conference
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.

Trial
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.

Sentencing
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.

Attorney Fees:

 

$300 per hour against a $3,000 minimum fee to be paid in advance

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