Whether you are facing criminal charges such as possession, assault, or any other criminal offense, a San Francisco criminal lawyer can help. A San Francisco criminal defense attorney can help at each stage of a misdemeanor or felony charge. San Francisco criminal law firms know California law as well as the local courts. Whether you are arrested in the Mission District, the Marina, or elsewhere in the Bay Area, knowledge of local courts and enforcement agencies could prove helpful. Use FindLaw to find a San Francisco criminal defense lawyer to help resolve your criminal charge.
In most cases, you have the right to self-representation in criminal court. However, that does not mean that it is a good idea. It can be very risky to represent yourself when facing criminal charges and saying the wrong thing could result in a guilty verdict. There are serious penalties for misdemeanor and felony criminal charges, including:
A permanent criminal record
Some criminal convictions can limit your future opportunities, including professional licensing, finding a job, getting a place to live, and ownership of a firearm. For people who are not U.S. citizens, there may also be immigration consequences of a criminal conviction, including removal proceedings and deportation.
From the pre-trial process, plea negotiations, criminal trial, and appeals, a trial lawyer can provide the legal representation to give you the best opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction.
Should I Work With Police or Prosecutors on My Case?
Many people think that if they did not do anything wrong, they don't have anything to worry about. Unfortunately, innocent people go to prison all the time. Some innocent people even plead guilty to a crime they never committed. Many of these people did not hire a criminal defense lawyer.
When law enforcement talks to a suspect, they may be trying to get evidence to use as probable cause to make the arrest. Even if you did nothing wrong, you have the right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer if you are taken into custody. This may be the best option to protect yourself from saying something that can be used against you, even if it was taken out of context.
Prosecutors are interested in getting convictions. Most criminal cases in San Francisco are settled before they go to trial by a plea agreement. The prosecutor may make it seem like there is no chance and the defendant should accept the plea bargain for a lighter sentence instead of getting the maximum sentence after a trial. If you cooperate with the prosecutor without talking to a criminal law attorney for legal advice, you may end up signing away your legal rights and end up facing jail time.
FindLaw's Lawyer Directory is the largest online directory of attorneys. Browse more than one million listings, covering everything from criminal defense to personal injury to estate planning.
Detailed law firm profiles have information like the firm's area of law, office location, office hours, and payment options. Attorney profiles include the biography, education and training, and client recommendations of an attorney to help you decide who to hire.
Use the contact form on the profiles to connect with a San Francisco, California attorney for legal advice.
Criminal defense is a unique practice area and you may want a lawyer who primarily practices criminal defense law. Different criminal defense attorneys may have different strengths. It is important to find the best criminal defense attorney in the San Francisco area who also is the right fit for you and your individual situation. When you talk to an attorney, ask them about their experience handling criminal charges like yours. Factors that you may want to consider in choosing a criminal defense law firm include:
Years of experience
Availability for questions and updates
Experience with the judge and prosecutor in your case
Approach to building a strong criminal defense
Approach to plea bargain agreements
Successful representation of clients
Many people who need to find a lawyer in California have never hired a lawyer before. Talking to a lawyer may be a new experience and you might want some help getting started. Here are some questions you may want to ask a lawyer before deciding who to hire.
What is your main practice area?
How many years of experience do you have in California with cases like mine?
How often do you take cases to trial or settle them out of court?
Can I take my case through mediation or arbitration?
Do you offer a free consultation?
What are your fees and costs?
Will you be the attorney primarily handling my case?
How will I be kept up-to-date about my case?
In order to practice law in California, attorneys have to both pass the California bar exam and be admitted by the State Bar of California. Most attorneys in California graduate from an accredited law school but some lawyers are admitted through on-the-job experience for a minimum of 4 years and through passing an additional legal exam. After a lawyer is admitted to law practice in California, they can practice in almost any area of law.
Lawyers in California are held to strict ethical guidelines known as the Rules of Professional Conduct. Attorneys may have duties and limitations in:
Duty of client advocacy
Conflicts of interest
Duty of candor
Limitations in soliciting clients
Restrictions on handling a client's money
Many people avoid calling a lawyer because they are worried it will be too expensive. In many cases, a lawyer can end up saving the client money. This includes getting an increased award, recovering additional damages, avoiding financial problems in the future, and avoiding future disputes and litigation. Some legal areas even allow the lawyer to recover legal fees from the party at fault.