Criminal Defense Attorneys in Bakersfield, California
There were 853,576 total criminal arrests statewide in 2020, including 273,542 felony arrests and 577,586 misdemeanor arrests, according to statistics published in the Crime in California Report. In the state of California, crimes can be categorized into infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Depending on the severity and seriousness of the offense, an offender convicted of a crime in California could be facing lengthy imprisonment, hefty fines, a criminal record, and other far-reaching social consequences.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, it is crucial that you retain an aggressive and highly-skilled California criminal defense attorney to strategize your defense. At Underwood Law Firm, we are dedicated to offering comprehensive legal counsel and vigorous representation to clients facing criminal charges. As your legal counsel, we can investigate all of the details of your case, enlighten you about the state’s criminal procedure, and outline an effective defense strategy to help fight your charges.
Underwood Law Firm proudly serves clients across Bakersfield, California, and the surrounding areas of Lamont and Kern County.
Criminal Charges in California
A criminal charge can be described as a formal accusation made by a governmental authority — law enforcement, police officer, or a public prosecutor — asserting that an individual has committed a crime. Criminal charges may be categorized into infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies in The Golden State.
Infractions are minor offenses that are punishable with a fine and other restrictions. Common examples of infractions in California include traffic violations, boating violations, littering, tailgating, and failure to yield to a pedestrian. There is no jail time for an infraction.
Misdemeanors are more serious offenses than infractions, but these crimes are not as severe as felonies. Common examples of misdemeanor offenses in California include larceny, assault and battery, probation violations, shoplifting, drug possession, prostitution, and drunk in public. Misdemeanors are punishable by jail time, fines, license suspension, probation, community service, and court costs.
A felony is the most serious type of criminal charge in California. Compared to other offenses, felonies are usually penalized severely. In some grave cases, a felony charge may result in imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Some common examples of felony offenses in California include homicide, murder, aggravated battery, manslaughter, rape, sexual battery, and drug distribution. Felonies are punishable by lengthy imprisonment, massive fines, probation or parole, and other harsher penalties.
If you or someone you know has recently been arrested and charged with an offense, it is crucial that you hire a highly-skilled California criminal defense attorney immediately. Your legal counsel can help defend your rights, help you understand the criminal court process, and strategize your best defenses.
California Criminal Court Process
The criminal court process in California involves the following phases:
Investigation: Once the police receive a complaint or report of a criminal act, they will carry out an investigation. Criminal investigations often include performing search warrants and interviewing witnesses.
Arrest: The police may arrest a suspect for allegedly committing a crime or violating the law. After the arrest, the suspect or alleged offender may have to post a bond to be released from jail.
Arraignment: After an arrest, the offender will be arraigned in front of a magistrate judge. During the arraignment, the judge will read your charges to you. You will be allowed to plead:
Not guilty, or
No contest (nolo contendere).
Pretrial: The pretrial involves all court processes that occur before a trial. These include:
Negotiations or plea deals.
Your case will move to the trial phase if it is not resolved during the pretrial proceedings.
Preliminary Hearing: For offenders facing felony charges, a preliminary hearing will be held to determine whether:
There is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed, and
The defendant committed the crime or charges brought against them.
Trial: In California, trials may either be a bench trial or a jury trial.
Bench Trial: In a bench trial, the judge will act as both the judge and jury. Often, misdemeanors are heard and tried in bench trials.
Jury Trial: A jury consisting of 12 members of the community will be selected to hear the evidence against the defendant and their defense. Felony cases may be eligible for a jury trial. The jury will determine whether you are guilty or not guilty.
Sentencing Hearings: If the defendant is convicted, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled to determine the right punishment (sentence) for the offense committed or charges.
Appeal: However, if you believe you were wrongly convicted or sentenced unfairly, you are within your rights to appeal your case by filing an appeal to a higher court.
An experienced California criminal defense lawyer can walk you through every phase of the criminal court process, outline your defense strategy, and improve your chances of achieving the most favorable outcome for your unique situation. If you already have a record, we can help discuss your options and the potential for expungement.
Work With a Knowledgeable
Criminal Defense Attorney
The implications of a criminal conviction or record can be devastating. A criminal record can jeopardize your liberty, quality of life, eligibility for government assistance, education, professional, and future opportunities. However, defending your criminal charges without reliable representation can increase your risk of suffering the maximum punishment. Therefore, when facing criminal charges, retaining a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is paramount to protect your legal rights and help build your defense.
At Underwood Law Firm, our attorneys have the diligence, expertise, and resources to defend and represent individuals wrongfully accused of committing an offense. As your legal counsel, we can work to understand the surrounding facts of your unique situation and strategize an effective defense for your case. Using their extensive legal knowledge, our team can help you navigate the California criminal justice system. We will fight vigorously on your behalf to uphold your legal rights, refute the allegations against you with factual evidence, and help keep your record as clean as possible.
Criminal Defense Attorneys
in Bakersfield, California
If you’re facing criminal charges, don’t face them alone. Contact Underwood Law Firm today to schedule a simple case assessment. Our reliable team can offer you the highly-personalized legal guidance, strong advocacy, and aggressive representation you need to fight your criminal allegations. We’re proud to represent clients across Bakersfield, Lamont, and Kern County, California.