Answers to All of Your Frequently Asked Questions
- What should I do if I am arrested?
- What about bail?
- How much is your retainer?
- Who will actually be handling my case?
- Will I have to personally appear in court?
- What about the public defender?
- What about DUI cases?
- What about DMV Hearings (for Driver License suspensions)?
- What about Domestic Violence cases?
- What about drug possession or drug sales cases?
- What about shoplifting and other theft offenses?
- What about homicide cases?
- What about “CSI” forensic evidence, and expert witnesses?
- What should I look for in a criminal lawyer?
1. What should I do if I’m arrested?
Ask the police for a lawyer immediately. Do not discuss the facts of your case with law enforcement or anyone else but your lawyer. Do not let the police bully or trick you out of exercising these important rights.
Many people who tried to talk their way out of an arrest have talked themselves right into a prison or jail cell.
Call me without delay. You may reach me directly 24/7 at (415) 345-1335.
Please do not underestimate the harm that can be done to your criminal case by the delay in getting a good Bay Area criminal attorney.
Also, avoid broadcasting your arrest to your friends, co-workers, and even family members if you can avoid it. Your arrest will stick to your reputation.
Naturally, I will keep all of your information completely confidential whether or not you decide to retain me as your criminal attorney.
Use your best judgment and contact me immediately to get the effective, aggressive representation of a Bay Area criminal attorney whom you will need to get the best outcome for your or your loved one’s criminal case.
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2. What about bail?
The police use a “Bail Amount Schedule” from the judges of their county for those arrestees seeking immediate release on bail. These “scheduled” bail amounts are extremely high ($5,000 to $1,000,000, or more).
Except in cases of flight risk or “danger to society,” I can get you a significant bail reduction, or in many cases even get you released without posting bail (“O.R.”). For example, I recently got a reduction of a million dollar bail down to forty-five thousand dollars (less than the “scheduled” bail) for my client in the San Francisco Superior Court.
If you have limited funds, you may want to consider using your money for your legal defense rather than spending it on an excessively high bail that probably can be significantly reduced anyway.
Clients who have already retained an attorney (but not a court-appointed public defender) get a cost reduction from 10% down to 8% of the bail amount from almost all bail bond companies.
Note that in almost all first-time DUI cases, clients are usually released the next morning on their signature without having to post bail.
Important note: Beware of any attorney who is referred to you by your bail bond company, or any attorney who urges you to use a specific bail bond company (they all charge the same), since highly illegal kickback schemes have been found in such cases.
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3. How much is your retainer?
Before quoting you a retainer, I will consider these factors:
1. The criminal charges,
2. The difficulty of the case,
3. The specific facts of this case,
4. Any prior criminal background,
5. How much time in prison or jail the client is facing, and
6. The financial ability of the client.
I accept major Credit Cards, checks, or cash.
Finding a criminal defense attorney is definitely not the time to “price shop,” any more than it would be if you were in need of a good doctor.
The Yellow Pages and the Internet are full of cheap attorneys who are always willing to take your case for less than a fully competent criminal lawyer.
Get the best you can criminal lawyer you can afford.
Your freedom and future depend on it, and no one ever regreted having too good a lawyer when faced with criminal charges.
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4. Who will actually be handling my case?
2. I will not assign your case to any other lawyer.
3. I never “subcontract” cases to other lawyers.
4. I never refer (i.e. sell) cases to other lawyers for a referral fee.
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5. Will I have to personally appear in court?
No, not in most cases. In misdemeanor cases (such as a DUI), I can appear for you in your absence at all stages of the proceedings without you having to suffer the stress and embarrassment of having to go to court.
Felonies, however, are another matter. While some courts may allow you to waive your appearance in court, most courts will require your attendance.
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6. What about the Public Defender?
The public defender’s office is appointed by the court only for those who are financially unable to retain private counsel. This means that if you own a home or just have a decent full-time job, the court will tell you to retain your own private Bay Area criminal attorney. You will have to fill out your financial information under penalty of perjury to apply for the public defender.
Additionally, even if the court finds you financially eligible for the public defender, you will still be ordered to pay for the public defender’s services at the end of your case.
While there are some excellent public defenders, you will not have a choice as to which specific lawyer you might get. You will also have to personally show up in court at every proceeding and wait your turn with all of the other public defender-represented clients.
Unfortunately, public defender’s offices are understaffed with attorneys who must deal with staggeringly high, difficult caseloads. By contrast, even a busy private criminal lawyer has only a fraction of the cases that each public defender must unfortunately shoulder.
The bottom line is that if you can afford an experienced San Francisco defense attorney who is not handicapped by a huge caseload, it should be obvious that this would be in your best interests to retain one.
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7. What about DUI cases?
I have personally handled over 1,000 DUI cases, including first-timers, multiple offenders, probation violators, and, in the most serious cases, multiple vehicular homicide (manslaughter) cases involving Driving Under the Influence.
I have also handled several hundred DMV Drivers License Suspension cases, mostly for DUI cases, but also in epilepsy, elder, and excessive ticket cases.
What can be done to help you in a DUI case? That depends entirely on the unique facts of your individual case. Only an in-depth interview with a seasoned San Francisco defense attorney can reveal all of the facts that may assist in your defense.
After my evaluation of your case, I can decide on what defenses and what evidence (such as forensic, scientific, and expert witnesses) will be helpful in defending your case.
I will be happy to assist you in a professional assessment of your case.
Your reliance on the “legal advice” of well-meaning friends or information gleaned on the Internet is very foolish. Your case may contain very subtle facts that could result in either you getting your license back, and/or a reduction or even dismissal of the charges.
If you’re faced with a DUI case, please call me, San Francisco defense attorney Michael Ross, without delay for a professional evaluation of your case.
Important note: There are strict time deadlines in DUI cases. You should have your lawyer contact DMV within ten (10) actual calendar days of your arrest, or else you will have waived your right to a hearing, and several other important rights.
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8. What about DMV Hearings (Drivers License suspensions)?
Important Notice: In DUI cases, a DMV hearing and obtaining a temporary Drivers license must be arranged for within ten calendar days, or else these very important rights are forfeited.
In a DUI case, the DMV Hearing Officer will decide whether your drivers license suspension that took place at the time of your arrest will be sustained or set aside.
There are three separate questions that the DMV Hearing Officer will examine at a suspension hearing in DUI cases:
1.) Was there probable cause for the initial stop?
2.) Were you lawfully arrested?
3.) Were you driving with .08% or more of blood alcohol?
If you win in any of the above questions at your hearing, then your drivers license will be returned and the original suspension permanently set aside.
In short, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by arranging for a DMV hearing and, with the help of competent legal counsel, offer a defense on any or all of these questions.
However, preparing and offering a defense in a DMV hearing is a complex and legally sophisticated matter, and you will need a good criminal lawyer to accomplish this. I will bring my many years of experience in defending clients at the DMV to bear on your case.
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9. What about Domestic Violence cases?
I have handled over one hundred of this very serious type of case.
It takes only a “minor or serious injury”* (in short, almost any injury by any physical force to the victim, however slight) to give rise to a criminal charge of domestic violence.
The arrestee is also issued a “stay away” order by the police and/or the court requiring that the defendant not contact or go near the alleged victim. This usually results in the client being kicked out of the house.
Damage control is the name of the game in a “DV” case. I will take steps to help mitigate, and in some cases dismiss, the final outcome and to dissolve the “stay away” order where appropriate.
The charges may ultimately be reduced to a misdemeanor, and, through remedial and rehab classes, the family may be reunited in a safe environment.
Please call me, Bay Area defense attorney Michael Ross, for further details on how this complex and extremely sensitive type of case can best be handled at: (415) 345-1335.
*Section 273.5 of the California Penal Code
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10. What about drug possession or sales cases?
Drug cases fall into three distinct categories:
A. Possession of a controlled substance,
B. Being under the influence of a controlled substance, and
C. Sales of drugs (including possession for purpose of sale).
Except for the possession of a small amount of marijuana, these types of charges are usually charged as felonies.
a. In mere possession cases, our goal is to ultimately get the charges dismissed. “Drug Court” normally handles this type of case with the goal of not having the client coming back into the criminal justice system again.
b. Being under the influence of an illegal drug can result in felony charges. Contact me to discuss non-jail alternatives, reduction of charges, and procedures that may lead to the dismissal of your case.
c. Sales, and possession for sales, cases are more difficult, but I have had very good results in getting these types of charges reduced, or in cases with a successful motion to suppress evidence, dismissed.
There are several alternatives to jail in most drug cases, such as Prop. 36, Deferred Entry of Judgment, as well as other alternatives to incarceration which are designed to keep you out of jail and in rehab.
Obviously, each case is different and involves different facts. Please call Bay Area defense lawyer Michael Ross so that he may discuss with you what can be done in your case.
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11. What about shoplifting and other theft offenses?
Diversion, that is, the dismissal of charges after participation in classes or therapy, is available only in some counties.
Civil compromise, that is, a negotiated settlement resembling that of a civil lawsuit, is technically available in all counties. Even though the courts and retailers are reluctant to agree to a civil compromise, I have had excellent results getting this remedy for my clients, and the end result is a dismissal of all charges.
Prior convictions for theft and other offenses present unique problems to a theft case since a second time petty theft can be charged as a felony. I have had very good success in getting prior convictions stricken from theft cases.
More serious theft charges like fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, and other theft related offenses require strong advocacy to keep the client out of jail. I have been able to obtain excellent results in cases that sometimes looked hopeless.
Call me, Bay Area criminal attorney Michael Ross, at (415) 345-1335 to discuss the possibilities of keeping you out of jail and possibly getting your case dismissed.
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12. What about homicide cases?
I have handled many homicide cases, including manslaughter (voluntary, involuntary, negligent, and vehicular), attempted murder, and murder cases, including successfully handling the post-conviction of a death penalty case.
This is the most serious area of criminal charges, and you will need the best, most aggressive and experienced legal representation available.
Each case is carefully evaluated for potential evidentiary advantages, mitigating circumstances, and possible defenses to the charges.
An in-depth analysis of your case is your starting point. Call San Francisco defense attorney Michael Ross at once so that he can begin to assist with your, or your loved ones, case.
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13. What about “CSI” forensic evidence, and expert witnesses?
I retain the most reputable forensic experts available, some of whom are the leading experts in their field. Areas of expertise include: accident reconstruction, forensic toxicology, pathology, ballistics, blood analysis, physics, psychology, police procedures and techniques, psychiatry, and industry experts in many other fields.
Working with these experts, I can create an effective defense for your criminal case incorporating the latest scientific techniques.
Your criminal case may have its own requirements for forensic evidence analysis and perhaps the need for an expert witness. Call San Francisco defense lawyer Michael Ross to discuss the possible need for expert witnesses in the defense of your case.
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14. What should I look for in a criminal lawyer?
A.) Broad experience in serious criminal trials
C.) Academic ability to prepare your case
a.) Broad experience means that your criminal lawyer has actually handled thousands of all types of criminal cases, from heavy felonies (for example: “Three Strikes” and cases involving a life sentence or death penalty) to misdemeanors.
“Broad experience” also means frequently going to trial in matters that involve having the client’s very freedom in the lawyer’s hands. This is the only way that your attorney can acquire the expertise required to competently handle your criminal case
However, broad experience does not include attorneys who handle mostly DUIs, misdemeanors, and traffic tickets. Many attorneys claim to take “all types of cases,” but have actually handled little more than misdemeanors.
My criminal law practice has evolved from having been lead prosecutor and Deputy Attorney General, handling all Special Prosecutions, including the post-conviction phase of a death penalty case, to currently having a private criminal defense firm with over twenty years of defense experience in handling over 3,500 felony and misdemeanor cases. (Select the tab above on my website entitled “Legal Experience” for more details.)
My broad experience in criminal trial work will benefit your criminal case, from a DUI to any heavy felony.
b.) Integrity in your attorney is indispensable. Your criminal lawyer should never have been disciplined by the California State Bar or any other license granting or disciplinary authority (such as federal courts or the bar associations of other states).
Each lawyer has an online page with the State Bar of California, and in the “Disciplinary and Related Actions” section at the bottom of the page it should read: “This member has no record of public discipline.”
If the attorney has ever been suspended or disbarred, then you should read the attached record of disciplinary action and find out the reason(s) for the disciplinary action. Then ask yourself if this lawyer is still acceptable to you as your counsel.
You should also ask your prospective attorney whether he or she has ever received even a private disciplinary action (unpublished and not public record) by the State Bar or any other authority.
Lastly, you should inquire as to whether your prospective attorney has ever been sued for malpractice or any other breach of a client’s trust.
Personally, I have never been disciplined by the State Bar of California or any other authority, either publicly or privately. Nor have I ever been sued by any client for malpractice or any other breach of a client’s trust.
This is the level of proven integrity that is indispensable for the trust that you will have to place in your criminal lawyer.
c.) Academic ability to prepare your case is critical to the best outcome of your criminal case.
The best objective test of academic ability is whether your lawyer passed the California Bar Examination the first time. I’m proud to say that I passed on my first Bar Exam.
Here’s the real reason people flunk the Bar Exam: they weren’t prepared. Flunking the Bar Exam is the equivalent of flunking out of college or law school. This lack of preparedness is a bad omen for your case, where your lawyer will have only one chance to help you.
Additionally, your attorney should also have graduated from a law school fully accredited by American Bar Association (ABA), not just a “state” accredited, or worse yet, an “unaccredited” law school.
Your attorney should have earned at the least a full Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited University before law school (believe it or not, some attorneys have less than two years of undergraduate study before entering into an unaccredited law school).
My law school, Southwestern Law School of Los Angeles, was one of the first law schools established in California. I received the degree of Juris Doctor, ranked in the top 25% of my class. Nationally accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), Southwestern has produced more judges in California than any other law school.
I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from California State University at Long Beach, is the largest campus in the University system.
In short, a lawyer’s academic ability is a prime indicator of how your criminal case will be be prepared.
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I am attorney Michael Ross, and my 24/7 phone number is (415) 345-1335. Call me for a free, confidential consultation for your, or your loved one’s, criminal case.
I rest my case.