Frequently Asked Questions
If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime, you probably have a number of questions. What should you do? Do you even need an attorney? Below, we have listed some frequently asked questions about criminal defense in Los Angeles, California. We welcome you to review this page, and to contact our office to speak with a Los Angeles criminal lawyer about your case and your charges.
I was arrested, but I was released from jail. I think I might be charged with a crime, but I'm not sure. What should I do?
It is still likely that you may face criminal charges. We recommend that you consult a defense attorney as soon as possible. If you hire an attorney, your attorney will conduct all communication with law enforcement in order to help you avoid having charges filed at all. If charges have already been filed, your attorney can begin negotiations and start to build an effective defense strategy.
Do I need a lawyer even for a minor offense?
While certain offenses, such as a minor traffic ticket, do not necessarily require a defense lawyer, any other criminal charge could result in jail or prison time as well as fines. Even misdemeanor offenses, which are less serious than felony offenses, are punishable by up to 12 months in county jail. By working with a lawyer, you have a chance to avoid maximum penalties or avoid a conviction altogether.
What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
Criminal offenses are classified in regards to the penalties they carry. A misdemeanor offense is a crime which is punishable by up to 12 months in county jail, and a felony is a crime which is punishable by at least 1 year in state prison.
I was arrested for DUI. Will I go to jail?
In California, most DUI (driving under the influence) charges are misdemeanor offenses and are punishable by jail time, license suspension, fines and alcohol classes or counseling. Typically, for a first offense with no enhancing factors (such as a high blood alcohol level, accident or injury) your attorney can help you avoid jail time. For a fourth offense or DUI manslaughter, this will be more difficult and your attorney will have to fight harder to protect your freedom.
What is a "strike"? How can I get one?
California observes a law referred to as "Three Strikes And You're Out". This law was enacted in order to discourage repeat offenders. A violent or serious felony offense may qualify as a "strike" on your record. A second violent or serious felony conviction will result in double the penalties, and a third conviction, even for a more minor offense, will result in a prison sentence of 25 years to life. This makes it all the more important to hire a competent defense lawyer to defend your charges. Click here for more information on three strike crimes.
Will I qualify for alternative sentencing?
Alternative sentencing is often an option for a first time offender, usually for misdemeanor offenses only. Particularly in the case of a drug crime or DUI, alternative sentencing - such as drug treatment, counseling or community service - may be an option.
At Hedding Law Firm, we handle criminal cases throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding areas in Southern California. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience and utilize this, along with our resources, to help our clients reach a positive outcome for their cases.