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California Criminal Court Process

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The California criminal court process can be nerve-racking for those accused of a crime. Criminal charges can cause incredible anxiety for you and your family. Even misdemeanor offenses will have a significant impact on your life, and being found guilty of one or multiple felony offenses can result in many years in prison. Attorney Elliot Silver has an arsenal of experience working as a tenacious defense lawyer for clients charged with criminal offenses. He will fight ferociously for you throughout the entire criminal court process.

To speak with an experienced Oakland criminal defense lawyer about your case and the California criminal court process, contact Silver Law Firm today. Call us at (510) 995-0000.

What To Expect When Arrested in California

Being arrested for any crime can be intimidating. The police will either act with force or try to be your friend to get you to talk. Whether or not you have existing criminal warrants for your arrest, you should remain calm with arresting officers while being arrested. Generally, you should not fight the police. Remember, though, that you do not have to answer questions or consent to a search of your person, vehicle, or property. You should immediately contact an attorney. Tell officers that you wish to speak with your lawyer and call Silver Law Firm at (510) 995-0000 right away. We will answer your call, text, or email immediately.

Do not try to “talk the cops out of an arrest” by explaining your side of the story. Everything you say will be used against you. Even explanations that you feel are reasonable will be used as evidence when filing charges against you. Beware of cops that want to “chat you up,” they are not your friends if you are being arrested.

Your arrest process will likely include the following:

  • The officers will ask for your identification and check if there is a warrant for your arrest already issued. You are required by law to identify yourself upon the request of the police.
    In the field searches during an arrest are routine prior to getting to the station. However, you do not have to consent to a search of your car or house if the officers ask you for permission.
  • When you get booked, the police will take your mug shot and fingerprints.
  • Your clothing and other property will be taken. Your belongings should be returned to you upon release, except for illegal materials or potential evidence of an alleged crime.
  • A strip search may be conducted, even if you are arrested for a non-violent crime.
  • You may be subjected to a health screening before admittance to jail. Additionally, if you are taking any medications or have health concerns, make sure the jail knows about it at intake.

Bail in California

When you are arrested, you will likely be given a bail amount that, if paid, will allow you to leave jail. Bail is an amount of money you pay that ensures you will return to court hearings. California has scheduled bail amounts in each county, and the amount you will have to pay will be based on your past criminal record and the severity of your charges. You may use a bail company to help you pay your bail; however, the company will charge you a premium for this service.

Also, you may not be held in jail for longer than 72 hours (not including weekends and holidays) without established criminal charges. If the prosecuting attorney’s office fails to file charges within three court days of your arrest, you must be released.

If you are unable to post bail and you have to remain in jail, your attorney will submit a bail motion to have your bail amount reduced or eliminated. Your attorney will take a full biographical history and present to the court that you have ties to the community, that you are not a risk to public safety, and argue for your release.

If you are allowed to post bail, the judge may order that you comply with certain conditions such as surrendering your passport, participation in drug or alcohol treatment, or wearing a GPS device.

Attorney Elliot Silver is available when you need him. He will accept calls from jail if you have been arrested. He will also accept a call from a friend or family member if you can contact them. When you’ve been arrested, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to get through the criminal justice system. We will help you every step of the way.


An arraignment is the first hearing that you have in court after your arrest. It must take place within 48 hours of your arrest, not including Sundays and holidays. Having your lawyer present at the arraignment is very helpful since they can get an early understanding of the prosecutor’s evidence against you. Here you will be formally notified of the charges against you.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, your attorney can typically appear on your behalf at the arraignment. Exceptions include charges involving domestic violence, violation of a protection order, and aggravated DUI offenses. However, if you are charged with a felony, you must appear at your arraignment, even if you’ve already been released from jail. You may be permitted to appear via audio or video conference. If you fail to appear when ordered to do so, a warrant might issue and you may be charged with a separate offense.

Preliminary Probable Cause Hearing and Pretrial Process

You have a right to a preliminary examination hearing as soon as 10 court days after the entry of your plea of not guilty, but no later than 60 calendar days after the arraignment date. This preliminary examination is heard by a judge who listens to the evidence presented by the prosecutor and determines whether there is enough to establish probable cause that the crime charged was committed. If there is enough evidence, you will be “held to answer,” and your case will be bound over to the Superior Court for trial.

A preliminary hearing is a hearing that the court conducts in order to determine if there is enough evidence to show there is probable cause to show your guilt of the crimes alleged. This is not your trial, but a hearing that allows your lawyer to see and test the evidence in your case and see how the prosecutor might argue for your guilt at trial. Attorney Elliot Silver is well-versed in how to probe evidence and cross-examine witnesses at the preliminary hearing and trial. He will thoroughly question all witnesses and dissect the evidence against you.

At a preliminary hearing, in order for the prosecution to proceed, they must prove that there is probable cause to believe:

  1. That a crime was actually committed, and

  2. That you are the person responsible

During your pretrial process, your case will also enter the discovery phase, through which evidence is obtained from the prosecution. Discovery is the process by which you and your lawyer get to see all of the prosecutor’s evidence against you. Prosecutors are not supposed to withhold evidence. If they do, they should be sanctioned.

Pretrial Conferences

Often before your preliminary hearing and well before your trial date, your lawyer will meet with the prosecutor in order to discuss ways in which the case can be resolved at this early stage. It is possible that, in some cases, the prosecution could be convinced to dismiss the case due to a lack of evidence, and it is also possible that the prosecutor will offer you an agreement where you plead no contest to a lesser charge in order to end the criminal process.

During the pretrial process, your lawyer may make motions which are requests for the judge to make rulings in the case, such as suppressing and prohibiting evidence from being used against you or to even dismiss the entire case altogether.

While your lawyer will make recommendations on any offers that you will receive, the decision to accept a plea deal is solely up to you. Attorney Elliot Silver has negotiated with the prosecution through many plea deals. He understands when an agreement is beneficial to you and when you should ask for a better deal. He will evaluate the situation and help you make the right choice.

Your Criminal Trial and Sentencing

At the same time that your attorney is working to get you a fair plea offer, they are also preparing for trial in case plea negotiations fail. If your case makes it to trial, your defense lawyer will work on jury selection, presentation of evidence, cross-examinations of all state witnesses, opening statement and closing argument.

If you are found guilty of a criminal offense, the judge will have discretion in what sentence to hand down. In the sentencing hearing, your lawyer will argue mitigation factors to convince the judge to give you a fair sentence. Among the many possible reasons for leniency include your limited criminal history, or the mitigating circumstances related to the crime or you personally.

Criminal Appeal in California

A guilty verdict can be appealed. If successfully appealed, you may be granted a new trial. Often, prosecutors decide to drop criminal charges or give much better plea offers if the defendant is granted a new trial. The many reasons why you may succeed in arguing for a new trial include:

  • The evidence against you was illegally obtained and the trial judge should have excluded it
  • There was a legal error in handling your trial
  • There was jury misconduct
  • New evidence has come to light since the conviction

Silver Law Firm Can Help You

California police and prosecutors are known to aggressively seek convictions and jail sentences against those accused of crimes. You need a seasoned and determined defense lawyer if you are arrested and charged with a crime. You need an experienced criminal lawyer to help you through the California criminal court process. Attorney Elliot Silver has that experience and a history of getting results for his clients.

Contact Silver Law Firm to discuss your criminal charges and how we can help you get through the court process. Call us today at (510) 995-0000.

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