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Q: My loved one was just arrested, what should I do?

A: The first thing you should do is remain calm. Having a loved one imprisoned is very stressful. You are usually able to get your loved one out of custody as soon as they are booked into jail by calling a Bail Bond provider. Bonds are set in every jurisdiction by a schedule that is usually posted on the court website. The Bonds provider usually requires 7-10% of the total bond payable on a down payment.

Q: What if I can not afford the bond to have my loved one released before court?

A: Having a lawyer appear with your loved one in court can help to get the Judge to lower or eliminate the bond completely. The court must look at other ways of securing the defendants presence at court while still protecting the community. Often this can be achieved with an ankle bracelet for home detention and GPS monitoring or a treatment program that is case specific. Many counties in the Bay area have pre-trial release departments to assist in this process. The Judge may consider the seriousness of the offense, the prior criminal history, ties to the community, flight risks and other factors when determining whether or not to lower or eliminate bail.

Q: Are there cases where bail is denied?

A: Yes, bail will generally be denied on felony probation violations. Most other cases will have a bail amount.

Q: How is a private lawyer different then a public defender?

A: The Public Defender will be appointed to individuals who are declared indigent by the court or unable to hire their own attorney. While many public defenders are fantastic lawyers, you do not get to choose which public defender will work on your case. In some counties, different public defenders will work on your case every time you go to court. Some counties do not even have a unified public defenders office, they may outsource to individual attorneys to make up a private defender panel. Most public defenders have 100-300 cases at a time while a private attorney will have less then half the amount of cases. A private attorney can be selective in taking cases to ensure that the clients that they are working with receive the attention they deserve. Every Attorney works differently but I strive to have excellent personal communication with my clients. My personal cell phone number is on my business card and every one of my clients is able to reach me at anytime. This may not be the case at the Public Defender’s Office.

Q: Can you guarantee the outcome of my case?

A: I can not guarantee any outcomes. I can guarantee that I will provide zealous advocacy for you and get the best possible outcome given the particular facts and evidence in each case.

rebecca feigelson at her desk

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Q: Will you still be able to defend me if I am “guilty”?

A: Yes! Many cases have procedural defenses and you need an experienced attorney to review your case to ensure all possible options for defenses are exhausted. If there is an overwhelming amount of evidence weighted against you, I can still build a mitigation defense in order to secure you a favorable plea deal.

Q: What is a plea deal?

A: A plea deal is when the Prosecution and the Defense work together in order to resolve the case through a negotiated outcome. The charge and the sentence can all be negotiated. However, some charges have a statutory minimum sentence associated with the charge.

Q: If I am arrested, do I automatically have a criminal record?

A: No. Arrest records alone do not appear on standard background checks. Arrest records will appear on background checks to become a Peace Officer or to work for the Government. You must be convicted in Court in order for your criminal record to be impacted generally. A conviction occurs after a Judge or Jury finds you guilty of a charge or after you take a plea deal and admit guilt by changing your plea to “no contest” to a charge. A plea of “no contest” is the same as a finding of guilt.

Q: Can my criminal record be cleared?

A: Yes!  A criminal conviction where probation was imposed can be cleared through an expungement process once probation is complete. A charge that is a felony wobbler can be reduced to a misdemeanor at this same time and then cleared from your record simultaneously. An arrest record where no conviction occurred can be cleared through a motion in court called a CARE ACT petition or a Petition for Factual Innocence.

Q: Will expunging my record after a criminal conviction restore my gun rights if I was convicted of a felony.

A. No. An expungement alone will clear your criminal record but it will not restore your gun rights. If your conviction is a felony wobbler you can reduce the charge to a misdemeanor and this will restore your gun rights.

Q: What is a Wobbler?

A: A wobbler is a charge that can either a misdemeanor or a felony or a misdemeanor or an infarction. The district attorney has the discretion to charge it either way. The Judge can also reduce it down pursuant to Penal code 17[b]. An infraction is a crime like a parking citation that is not punishable by jail time. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in county jail. A felony is punishable by state prison if probation is denied.

Q: Do I need to appear in court at my court date if I hire an Attorney?

A: It depends. You must appear in a felony case for the initial court appearance. The judge may allow you to sign a Penal Code 977 waiver that will allow your lawyer to appear for you at future court dates. For misdemeanor cases an attorney can usually appear for you for most court dates. You may need to appear in court in domestic violence cases if a protective order is anticipated. Each case is different so be sure to check with your attorney before every court date to determine if your presence is required or not.

Q: I was arrested for a DUI, will I lose my drivers license?

A: As of January 1, 2019 a new law SB 1046 was enacted. SB 1046 allows individuals who suffered a DUI to drive without any interruption to their driving privileges with installation of an interlock device. SEE our page on DUI and SB 1046

Q: How long with the court process take?

A: It depends. Some cases can be resolved quickly with 1-3 court dates and others may take years to fight with many court dates. This is one of the many reasons that I charge flat rate fees.

Q: What happens at the Court Date?

A. The first court date is called an arraignment. This is usually a very fast court appearance and mostly procedural. It is a formal reading of your charges, receipt of charging documents [the complaint or information] and initial discovery [the police report], identification of counsel [who is your attorney?], entry of plea [NOT GUILTY] and setting of a new date. You have a constitutional right to a speedy trial and a speedy preliminary hearing. A Preliminary hearing only occurs in felony cases. If a defendant is in jail we may want to have a preliminary hearing or a trial as fast as possible. If you are out of jail, we may want to waive our right to a speedy process in order to have an opportunity to mount a defense and further investigate. The next hearing is pre-trial conference where the prosecutor and the defense will discuss the case in order to potentially reach a resolution. It is also a time where you can bring motions or further discovery requests. Eventually if the case cannot be resolved through a negotiation the case may be set for a preliminary hearing or a jury trial.

Q: How do you bill? Do you have a payment plan?

A: In criminal cases a flat rate fee is charged. Most cases can be paid on a monthly interest free payment plan. Asset forfeiture matters can be taken on contingency and some cases, such as restraining order or contract review is billed hourly.

Q: If I am convicted will I have to go to jail?

A: Most cases can be resolved for probation and little to no actual jail time, especially if you are a first-time offender. If you have to serve a jail sentence, most counties allow for a custody alternative such as the Sheriffs Work Program, Electronic Home Detention, Community Service, or Residential Treatment Programs.

Don’t take risks by not having the right ally!

Have Rebecca on your side.