FAQ

The criminal justice system is complex. We have compiled questions many of our clients frequently ask us during the course of their representation. If you do not see your question, please call as at 415-906-3423.

DO I HAVE TO ALLOW THE POLICE SEARCH MY RESIDENCE OR VEHICLE?

No. In most cases, police need your consent or a search warrant to enter your home. If there is a search warrant, the validity of this warrant can be tested in court.

Your car provides less protection than your home, but officers typically cannot search your car for minor traffic violations, including speeding. However, if you are arrested, it is likely your car can be searched either incident to your arrest or for towing inventory purposes. If you are stopped and police request to search your car, you should always respectfully tell the officer "No." The car may be searched regardless, but this allows for future litigation in court if the search was illegal. If you consent to the search, you may have waived your rights, even if the search was determined illegal.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM ARRESTED?

Every criminal defendant needs an attorney. If you are arrested, immediately assert your right to an attorney and do not give a statement to the police. Even if you are innocent, wait for an attorney to be present before giving any statements.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE POLICE WANT TO SPEAK TO ME ABOUT THEIR INVESTIGATION?

You should not speak to police unless you are accompanied by a lawyer. An attorney can ensure that your constitutional rights will be protected. Police are trained to interrogate potential suspects and obtain incriminating statements that can later be used against you in a criminal case.

If you are contacted by police, please call our office for a free consultation. Our office can be retained to advise and represent you during any investigation and prior to the filing of any charges.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FELONY AND MISDEMEANOR?

A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine, up to one year in county jail, or both fine and jail. A felony carries a state prison sentence. Some crimes are termed "wobblers" because they can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors.

HOW IS BAIL OR CUSTODY STATUS DETERMINED?

If you are arrested and booked, bail is initially set by the Sheriff's Department based on the charges they determine have occurred. These charges may or may not ultimately be filed by the district attorney. You can bail out of custody prior to being brought to court based on the bail set by the jail.

At your first court appearance, bail may be discussed and determined. Based on the criminal charges and the defendant's personal history, courts look to whether the defendant is a flight risk and/or a danger to the community. Factors the court will use in it's determination include, but are not limited to, employment/school history, number of years the defendant has resided in the area (or additional familial ties to the community), prior criminal history, and the facts of the charged case.

Depending on the facts of the case and the personal history of the defendant, the court may release the defendant on his own recognizance (no bail needs to be posted). If there is a dispute about what is the appropriate bail, a bail hearing may be set.

HOW MUCH DOES A PRIVATE ATTORNEY COST?

The cost of a criminal lawyer can vary depending on the type of charges and the jurisdiction where the charges are filed.

Please call our office at 415-906-3423 for a free consultation. After speaking with you, we can assess your case and provide answers to your financial questions.

WHAT HAPPENS AT MY FIRST COURT APPEARANCE?

At your first court appearance, you will have an arraignment. At an arraignment, the district attorney presents the charges filed against you and pleas are entered. A defendant also decides whether to assert his right to a speedy preliminary hearing (felony cases) or trial (misdemeanor cases). This is also generally when bail is set.

At the Law Office of Hanlon & Rief, we will discuss with you what will happen at each stage of your case and will be there in court to guide you through the process.

HOW LONG WILL MY CASE BE PENDING?

The length of a case varies depending on several factors including whether the defendant is in custody or out of custody; whether the case can resolve or goes to jury trial; and the type of charges and evidence that needs to be examined.

CAN YOU GUARANTEE A RESULT?

No lawyer can ever guarantee a client results. At the Law Offices of Hanlon & Rief, we will provide you with our realistic assessment of your case based on the years of experience our office has in handing criminal cases in California and federal courts.

WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE MY CURRENT ATTORNEY/PUBLIC DEFENDER?

In most circumstances, a criminal defendant has the right to counsel of his choice. It is important that you can trust and depend on your attorney.

If you are currently represented and would like to discuss your case, please call us at 415-906-3423.

HOW DO I GET MY RECORD EXPUNGED?

Expungement is the legal process of clearing a criminal record. This process can make it easier for you to apply for jobs and obtain certain professional licenses.

Our office can help you to withdraw your pleas of guilty or no contest to criminal charges and get your case dismissed. In some cases, we can also petition the court to reduce felony convictions to misdemeanors or seek early termination of your probation.

Please call us at 415-906-3423 and we can help you with this process.