Our Constitution guarantees the right to the presumption of innocence. That idea is essential to our liberty, our system of law, and to people accused of crimes. If you are being investigated or have been accused of a crime, you need excellent representation at the earliest possible stage.
This is where the Law office of Shep Zebberman can help. As a highly qualified and experienced California criminal defense attorney with over 26 years of experience dealing with and winning numerous criminal defense cases in all areas, he and his team know the ins and outs of the courtroom. Our firm will help you explore the maze of options from a negotiated plea bargain to a trial by jury and everything in between. It is important to remember that not every case goes to trial, and the decision to do so is the clients.
Sometimes a serious criminal charge may be resolved through alternatives such as treatment /rehabilitation options, community service, deferred entry of judgment, or plea bargain. It is important for you to know that a conviction could not only lead to harsh penalties — such as jail, prison, fines, and probation — but would also force you to live with a criminal record, potentially destroying your future career. That is why it is essential to retain an experienced, top-notch criminal defense lawyer by your side as soon as possible. Immediately after you learn you may be the target of an investigation by law enforcement, even before charges are brought, The Law Office of Shep Zebberman can direct you towards the right course of action to suit your individual case. Be assured that you will receive a powerful advocate on your side and a strong criminal defense on your behalf.
Shep Zebberman has no time to waste! The investigation phase of your case is the most critical for a criminal defense lawyer since being proactive can help us get an advantage towards fighting the charges. With over two decades of experience, Mr. Zebberman understands how to coordinate a tactical defense for his clients against prosecution. As a client of The Law Office of Shep Zebberman you can expect:
Moreover, Mr. Zebberman has developed trusting relationships with prosecutors, judges, court staff, and even probation officers. Mr. Zebberman is remarkably familiar with all the local courts and the rules of court where your case is pending. He is also familiar with the programs that are available in every court. Mr. Zebberman will work hard to achieve the best result possible in your case.
In general, criminal cases have the following steps:
Usually, the police cite or arrest someone and write a report. The report summarizes the events leading up to the arrest or citation and provides witnesses’ names and other relevant information. Defendants generally do NOT have a right to get a copy of the arrest report, but their lawyers do. The reason for this is to protect the identity of the witnesses. This is another reason why it is important that you have criminal defense attorney Shep Zebberman represent you.
The prosecutor then decides whether to file charges and, if so, what charges to file. The prosecutor decides whether to charge the crime as a felony or a misdemeanor. The prosecutor can file charges on all of the crimes for which the police arrested the defendant or can decide to file fewer charges or more charges than were included in the arrest report.
Defendants have a right to a speedy trial, the prosecutor must generally file charges within 48 hours of the arrest when the defendant is in custody. Weekends, court holidays, and mandatory court closure days do not count against the 48 hours.
When law enforcement makes an arrest, the arrestee (the defendant) is taken to jail.
Then, 1 of 3 things happen:
1. The defendant is released if the prosecutor (usually the district attorney or the city attorney) decides not to file charges; or
2. The defendant posts bail or is released based on a promise to appear in court at a later date for arraignment. If either of these steps happens, the district attorney or police tell the defendant when to come to court for arraignment; or
3. The defendant stays in jail. Law enforcement officers transport the defendant to the court for an arraignment.
An individual accused of a public offense has the right under the U.S Constitution to be informed of the “nature and cause of the accusations.” US Const Amend VI. See also Cal Const Art I, Sect 14 (arraignment for a felony). The arraignment is the first time the defendant appears in court.
At the arraignment, the judge tells the defendant:
The defendant may then respond to the charges by entering a plea. Common pleas include guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere (also known as “nolo contendere”).
Not Guilty: means the defendant says he or she did not commit the crime. Sometimes, defendants enter a plea of not guilty as a strategic decision during plea bargaining or because they want to go to trial and force the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Guilty: means the defendant admits he or she committed the crime. The judge finds the defendant guilty and enters a conviction in the court record.
No Contest: means the defendant does not contest (disagree with) the charge. This plea has the same effect as a guilty plea, except the conviction generally cannot be used against the defendant in a civil lawsuit.
If the defendant is in custody at the time of arraignment, after the defendant enters a plea (responds to the charges), the judge will:
“Bail” is money or property that a defendant puts up as a promise to return for future court dates. When setting the amount of bail, the judge takes into account the seriousness of the crime, whether the defendant is a risk to the community, and whether he or she is a “flight risk” and likely to run away.
In misdemeanor cases, if the defendant enters a not guilty plea, after the arraignment and before the trial: See PC 1382.
When a crime is punishable, in the discretion of the court, either by impriosnment in the state prison or imprisonment in a county jail under the provisions of subdivision (h) of section 1170, or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail, it is a misdemeanor for all purposes under the following circumstances:
In felony cases, after the arraignment, if the case does not settle or get dismissed the judge holds a preliminary hearing. At this hearing, the judge will decide if there is enough evidence that the defendant committed the crime to make the defendant have to appear for a trial. If the judge decides that there is enough evidence, the prosecutor will file a document called “the Information.” Then, the defendant will be arraigned, a second time, on the Information. At that time, the defendant will enter a plea and proceed to trial. See PC 1382.
A felony is a crime that is punishable with death, by imprisonment in the state prison, or notwithstanding any other provision of law, by imprisonment in a county jail under the provisons of subdivision (h) of Section 1170. Every other crime or public offense is a misdemeanor except those offenses that classified as infractions.
Before the trial:
Defendants in criminal cases (other than infractions) have the right to have a jury of their peers decide their guilt or innocence. Therefore, before trial, defendants need to decide whether to have a jury trial (where the jury decides if the defendant is guilty or not) or a court trial (where the judge decides). Usually, defendants choose to have a jury trial because they want a jury of their peers to hear the evidence and decide their guilt. But sometimes there may be circumstances where a defense attorney will recommend a court trial without a jury. That is why it’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side.
Everyone accused of a crime is legally presumed to be innocent until they are convicted, either by being proved guilty at a trial or by pleading guilty before trial. This means that it is the prosecutor who has to convince the jury that the defendant is guilty and must provide proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant has the right to remain silent and that silence cannot be used against him or her.
For a jury trial for a misdemeanor case: The law says how soon a defendant charged with a misdemeanor must be brought to trial.
The defendant can “waive” (give up) the right to a speedy trial. This means the defendant agrees to have the trial after the required deadline (also known as “waiving time”). But even if the defendant waives time, the law says the trial must start within 10 days after the trial date is set. It is very important for defendants to get advice from attorney Shep Zebberman before they waive time.
For a jury trial for a felony case: The law says how soon a defendant charged with a felony must be brought to trial.
The defendant can “waive” (give up) the right to a speedy trial. This means he or she agrees to have the trial after the 60-day period (also known as “waiving time”). It is very important for defendants to get advice from attorney Shep Zebberman before they waive time.
If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, it is called an “acquittal” and the defendant will be released. The defendant can never be tried again for the same crime. This is called “double jeopardy.” A finding of not guilty is not the same as a finding of innocence. It simply means that the jury was not convinced that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The arrest will still show on the defendant’s record, along with the acquittal. If a defendant was wrongfully arrested and charged, and he or she wants to get the arrest removed from her or his record, a hearing to determine the factual innocence of the defendant must be held in front of a judge. It is often much harder to prove factual innocence than to raise a reasonable doubt about guilt.
If the defendant is found guilty, the defendant will be sentenced.
If you are found guilty after a trial, you have the right to an appeal process. There are many reasons for an appeal of a criminal case, but appeals are also very difficult. Click here to learn more about the appeal process.
The Law Office of Shep Zebberman is committed to defending your rights and your freedom. If you need help in any of these areas and you are looking to hire a criminal defense attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us. We can provide a free consultation. We have local offices in Los Angeles County and in Orange County. Contact our offices at (855) 770-1836 for a free consultation.