FAQ & Important Resources San Jose Law California

FAQ & Important Resources San Jose Law California

The following is in regards to FAQ & Important Resources San Jose Law California Attorney information.

 

FAQ & Important Resources San Jose Law California, lawyer, attorney, criminal, justice, court, crime, felony, misdomeanor, dui, sex, assualt, theft

The First Court Date: The Arraignment

People are often confused by what happens in court. Why do I have to go back more than once? Is my lawyer even doing anything? What about my speedy trial? Sometimes, criminal defendants do not even know they have pled guilty until after they have already done so, and then come to see a lawyer! A criminal case is never over on the first court date unless the defendant pleads guilty, or if the DA does not file charges at all.

Important: You can only plead guilty without an attorney present for misdemeanor charges. Read more about the differences between Misdemeanor and Felony court procedure.

When you are arrested, or sometimes given a citation with a court date. You have to take a day off from work, and sometimes ask a good friend or family member to come along for moral support. Then you arrive to court and find out that there is no trial, no accuser or police officer present, sometimes not even a prosecutor, just a judge and a courtroom full of people who were also given the same court date. When your name is called, the judge doesn’t want to hear what happened, but only wants to know if you aregetting an attorneyor if you are pleading guilty.

Slow or Speedy Trial: Bail Hearings, Preliminary Hearings and Pre-Trial Motions

Bail Hearings

The biggest exception to the apparent slow movement of a case through the courts is when the defendant is in custody. Then bail motions must be made right away to get the bail reduced.

Another exception is in cases where it makes sense to force the prosecutor to present his case right away due to tactical decisions apparent to the attorney immediately on learning about the case. In these cases, your attorney needs to quickly get ready for contested bail hearings and the preliminary hearing. Also, your attorney will demand your right to a speedy trial. Then, the matter will take only a few weeks to reach the preliminary hearing stage.

Preliminary Hearings

The preliminary hearing is a mini-trial where the prosecution puts on just a few witnesses and the defense has the chance to cross-examine. After the hearing, the judge decides if there is any evidence to take the case to trial. If the judge so decides, a new arraignment date is set. At that time, the defense attorney may set legal motions to suppress evidence or to call defects in evidence or pleading to the next court’s attention.

Motions

These motions may take months or weeks to prepare, depending on the volume of material and legal issue involved. There may be a felony pretrial conference if it appears you would benefit from a discussion or attempt to settle. After that the matter is on the trial calendar. Again, there are many more trials set than courtrooms available, so the case may be on the calendar for several weeks.

At Last: The Jury Trial

The jury trail has several components to it that we, you and your defense attorney, must prepare for and go through before a final verdict and sentencing is reached. Each part needs careful planning and follow-through to achieve the best outcome. Your attorney will be at your side and work with you through:

  • Jury Selection
  • Trial

Criminal defense trials can take a week to over a year to conclude depending on the complexity and seriousness of the situation. Misdemeanor cases are generally quick, usually under a week. Felony cases can expect the trial process to take much longer. Learn more about Misdemeanor Cases and Felony Cases on these pages.

Under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, you have a right against self-incrimination. This is also known as the right to remain silent. Under the Sixth Amendment, you have the right to an attorney. These two pillars, together with the right to due process of law applicable to the States under the 14th Amendment, are meant to guard against heavy-handed governmental investigations and false confessions made just to get the police to stop the questioning.

But what about your rights today? What about when a police officer just has a couple of questions? If the police are knocking at your door or calling you on the telephone with questions about a crime, you may be considered a potential suspect, not just a witness. Police officers do NOT need to read you Miranda rights if they want to talk to you on the phone, or at your house (unless you are under arrest or handcuffed first). They do NOT even need to advise you of your rights if they ask you to come to the police station to answer a few questions unless you are under arrest! They DO NOT need to inform you they are asking you questions because you are a suspect. They ARE allowed to even tell lies about what they already know about the case in an effort to get a suspect to confess.

Nevertheless, many people choose to talk to the police and then wonder about their rights later, sometimes after damaging statements have been made. Most people assume that they are in control, not the police. After all, the person is often sitting at his/her desk or kitchen table when officers contact him/her. But you are not in control. Police are very well-trained. Making a few statements to police and then saying—well, I think I would be better off with a lawyer—or some other vague statement—is NOT insisting on your 5th or 6th Amendment Rights, and will NOT stop the questioning! You have the right to tell the police that you want to talk to an attorney and insist you will not speak to them without an attorney.

Many people wonder if insisting on an attorney wont just make you look guilty. You need to remember, the police would not be contacting you if they did not suspect you already. Whatever you say to them often confirms their suspicions. After you have spoken to an attorney, the attorney can talk to the police and let them know you will not be talking to them, or agree to sit in on a meeting between the police and yourself.

What if the police say they will just arrest you if you don’t want to talk to them? If that is truly the case, then the police already had probable cause to arrest you, and you will be arrested either way! Rarely can an arrest be avoided just by making a statement! It is almost always better to be arrested without having made a statement. Most of the time, when parties are questioned by police, they are nervous, sometimes have something to hide unrelated to the crime, so the truth may get “bent” a little. That truly is much more damaging than no statement at all because you cannot “unsay” something you have already said to police.

You would never consider playing a game of football, baseball, whatever sport with a professional athlete and assume you are evenly matched. Do NOT make this mistake with the police. Contact an attorney regarding the case and your rights before you make a statement.

In California, there are 2 separate areas of the law that influence whether a case is too old to prosecute. The easiest issue is when a case can no longer legally be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations. That means, from the date the offense was committed, the prosecution has a set time to get your case filed in the courthouse. For misdemeanors, like most DUIs, petty thefts, minor assaults, minor domestic violence, or disturbing the peace, and some lesser sex crimes, under the influence of drugs cases, that time is one year. For many felonies, the statute of limitations is 3 years.

There are many felonies with longer statutes of limitations. I cannot list all of them here. The statutes of limitations for criminal offenses in California starts at Section 800 of the California Penal Code. Felonies with longer statutes of limitations include crimes involving fraud, where a victim does not know they have been defrauded for some time, other crimes involving official conduct, crimes punishable by life imprisonment, most sex offenses. The crime of murder has no statute of limitations and can be prosecuted any time.

If a sex crime or sex offense is committed against a minor, the crime can be reported after the child has become an adult. This means it is possible in some cases to be prosecuted years after the victim says that the sexual offense was perpetrated. The California Penal Code Section that governs many sexual offenses involving minors is California penal Code section 803. It is very complicated and involves some very specific definitions that need to be discussed with a criminal lawyer.

Because statute of limitations questions can be so complex, never assume that a crime simply must be too old. You need a criminal attorney, and even then, the criminal lawyer will need to check the Code because of the nature of the exceptions that have been written into the statute.

For any criminal offense that is brought to the police after the statute of limitations has run, that criminal case cannot be prosecuted.

Separate from the statute of limitations issue are the right to a speedy trial and due process of law. This area is even more complicated than statutes of limitations. This is where a criminal offense has been filed against someone, but that person may not know because they were not arrested for the crime. For example, two people who were dating have an argument and break up on the spot. One party is hurt or angry and calls the police and reports a domestic violence case after the other person has walked out. If police cannot find the person who walked away, that person may never know a police report for domestic violence has been filed by the ex. If the district attorney files charges based upon what the complaining party says, then an arrest warrant for a criminal offense gets sent to the address the police have—often an old address. That person could go months or years without knowing there is a domestic violence warrant out for him/her. Depending on the length of time that has passed, and whether or not any efforts were made to contact the missing party, that person may well be able to get the case dismissed as a violation of their due process rights.

Another example is a DUI, or an assault and battery case where the suspect gets injured and ends up in the hospital but arrest papers do not get processed and the suspect is released. Again, an arrest warrant would then need to go to that person’s address or the police would need to find and arrest the suspect. If this is not successful, there may be a passage of time and a statute of limitations issue.

Generally speaking, if a criminal case is years old, and witnesses are no longer available, a speedy trial motion may get the case dismissed. This is ALWAYS worth pursuing when the case is old. You need to talk to a criminal defense attorney.

Anyone who has watched a TV re-run of a courtroom drama such as “Perry Mason” or “Matlock” has seen that crucial moment where a cunning prosecutor calls a witness to the stand and asks the fateful question, “Do you see the person who shot Mr. X here in the courtroom?” The witness then invariably points to the defendant on trial, saying. “He is sitting right at the defense table!” By the time the TV show has ended, the skillful defense attorney inevitably proves that statement wrong, usually in an equally dramatic courtroom confession by the real killer. Of course, this seldom plays out like this in court.

In fact, when an eye witness points out the defendant as the perpetrator of a serious crime, that statement is generally accepted by the jury as the most important piece of evidence in the trial. The skilled defense attorney will raise physical problems and other credibility issues to attack such an identification. Often a psychologist, an expert witness, may even be called in, to explain tricks our minds play on us in times of unusual stress, causing people to believe they are able to identify a person that they did not even see at the time of the crime. Yet the eyewitness identification of the defendant as the person who committed the crime is a very difficult piece of evidence to overcome.

Scientific research and a number of studies conducted by Innocence Projects as well as university professors have shown, however, that eyewitness identification is often very unreliable. According to many studies, mistaken eyewitness identification is a major cause of the wrongful conviction of innocent people. Scientists and psychologists have warned of the dangers of permitting a person to be convicted only upon eyewitness identification, unsupported by any other evidence. In fact, California placed initiatives on their November 2007 ballot requiring reforms in the use of eyewitness identification procedures in jury trials. This ballot proposal was defeated.

Since the use of PCR DNA procedures has become accepted in all United States courts over the last 10 years, convictions of many persons, some of them on death row, have been overturned by hard-working Innocence Project attorneys. In fact, according to psychologists including Dr. Gary Wells, PhD, mistaken eyewitness identification has proved to be THE largest single factor contributing to the conviction of innocent people.

If your criminal case involves an erroneous eyewitness identification, you need an attorney beginning thorough investigative procedures as soon as possible. You need a skilled attorney who will be able to bring out the real facts and fight against mistaken eyewitness identification both in and outside the courtroom.

The Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney is known for and proud of its reputation for being very aggressive in criminal prosecutions. After all, people do not want to live in a world full of crime. All U.S citizens who are California residents are subject to jury duty. Some people who receive a summons for jury duty ignore it. People who are poor, transient, or have big problems of their own may not ever get a jury summons due to changing their address so often. Or sometimes jury duty does not seem important compared to other problems in their lives, such as being a single parent and holding down a job. Those citizens who do respond to their summons and ultimately end up on a jury are not always “in touch” with the problems of the people who end up on trial. Most jurors look to the prosecutor as the guardian of their safety, and the defense attorney as a necessary evil at best. After all, it would be a bad member of society who thinks that people who steal, rape, and rob people are just fine and ought to go unpunished. When placed in the setting of a jury trial, the average citizen tends to look to the prosecutor as the protector of their rights. This usually translates into a pro-prosecution bias, and makes it hard for someone who is falsely accused to get a fair trial.

Jury selection for someone who has been falsely accused of a crime is very important. A good defense attorney is not looking for people who are pro-crime, but someone who will use their own experience and thoughts about the trial, who will truly do what the law requires—make the prosecution prove its case—not look to them for guidance. This is especially important in a jury trial for the sort of crime that causes great anger in the mind of the average citizen, such as crimes of violence against children or the elderly, or any sort of sex crime. Someone who is falsely accused and wishes to exercise their constitutional right to a jury trial often has a difficult time finding a truly unbiased jury both in Santa Clara County and in much of the United States. Criminal defense attorneys in San Jose have a tough battle in these types of cases, especially.

It is extremely important for a criminal defense attorney in San Jose or anywhere else, to make sure that he or she has all of the police reports, a complete witness list, access to all physical evidence, and enough funds to do their own investigation, and any necessary experts. The Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney is the largest law firm in the county. It is extremely well-funded and has the support of all the police agencies in the county. The criminal defense attorney nevertheless has the advantage of knowing their case more intimately than their opponent will. With thorough investigation, and an experienced criminal defense lawyer, a person who has been falsely accused of a crime can obtain a fair trial, even in a pro-law enforcement county that prides itself as one of the safest large cities in the nation.

Answer: The Santa Clara County Jail booking information can be reached by calling (408) 299-2305. However, that phone number is almost always busy. It is quite easy to get information online by going to their website www.sccgov.org. You can access booking and bail information, as well as visiting and mailing information, and future court dates by following the appropriate prompts.

Answer: Because sex offenses happen most often in relative privacy, any man or teenage boy is a potential target of false sexual allegations. Since you don’t see this as a possible scenario, it is difficult to guard against false allegations. If a man does not know a woman very well, and engages in sexual behavior, he runs the risk that the woman may have unresolved issues or simply feel the next day like she was “forced” into sex or even simply touched inappropriately. Obviously, the surest way to avoid false allegations is common sense–to know your partners well. Of course, many men and women engage in casual sex occasionally. The results can clearly be dangerous to both sexes. The “pickups” that are most easily reported as false allegations often involve partners that have had too much alcohol or are under the influence. Someone is more likely to be a target if both parties are out alone, or in a strange area where there are no witnesses to a person’s conduct. This is really common sense as opposed to legal advice.

It is also important to keep track of your surroundings if you are with a casual date or new acquaintance that you do not know well. If you are in a bar setting, you may have friends or acquaintances present that could be your witnesses later if a false allegation is leveled. You may know the bartender or wait staff. Possibly the staff may be familiar with your potential partner. Did she come to the party or restaurant with friends? Try to remember details. Be aware of your own potential alibi. If you go out right after work, you may have a sign out log or co-workers who can attest to your whereabouts if you are accused of misconduct before the time you meet a potential date. When you return home, a roommate may be able to remember when you came in. If you go out with a “new friend”, be aware that many places such as convenience stores, fast food restaurants, parking lots and gas stations have cameras. You may need to obtain a copy of a store videotape later, if you are accused of sexual misconduct at a time you are actually purchasing gas, or groceries from a quickie-mart. If you purchase something to eat or drink, save your credit card receipts or even cash register receipts.

The problem, of course, is that it is difficult to live your social life as though you are in a spy movie. Also, no one can account for all of his time if you are in a private setting. However, if false allegations are made against you or someone you know, it is easier to reconstruct your time if you can document where you were at what time, and who you met at which point in time.

Answer: The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If the officer has a warrant, he can generally search. However, he may be limited by the terms of the warrant itself as to whether the actual search is lawful. There are also issues that arise as to whether the judge should have issued the warrant in the first place. These are complicated legal challenges. Most often, a search has occurred without a warrant. When someone is not on parole or probation, a search cannot occur if it is “unreasonable”. If an officer sees contraband in plain sight, it is generally a legal search, unless the officer is not lawfully in the area where he sees the contraband. Sometimes “exigent circumstances” allow a search that would normally not occur. For example, if someone calls the police to report a crime occurring in your home, it may or may not be lawful for the police to enter, depending on the source of the information and the seriousness of the situation. These are not simple matters to sort out on your own. An attorney should be consulted to advise you what course to take regarding a potential challenge to the search.

Answer: When someone is in custody, he/she has a right to remain silent. The most difficult question deals is whether you are “in custody”. This is not as obvious as it seems and there have been a number of court decisions where a court must decide this issue. These issues often arise when someone has agreed to an interview at the police station but is told he is not under arrest. Most simply, if the officer is asking you questions in your home or your car, but you are free to leave if you choose, then the Miranda Rights do not apply. On the other hand, if you are in jail, the police car, or handcuffed, the officer cannot ask questions without reading your Miranda rights. Failure to read these rights results in the answers being inadmissible in a trial against you. Even then, the courts have carved out exceptions: For example, if a defendant testifies differently under oath than he said to the police, the officer may be able to testify to the “non- Miranda” confession in certain circumstances. “Miranda rights” are often the subject of appellate court decisions, and therefore can change depending on the present state of the case law. If an officer is investigating you, you are not required to be interviewed and should immediately consult an attorney. You should also remember that statements that are volunteered to an officer without the police actually asking you any questions are “fair game” for court.

Answer: Some felonies may not be reduced. Those are usually serious felonies, but can include possession for sale of drugs, simple possession of certain drugs, false imprisonment, depending on how it is charged, and even some Vehicle Code offenses. If you have been to state prison on a crime, it can never be reduced to a misdemeanor. Many felonies are alternative felony – misdemeanors, where the Code permits punishment in either the state prison or the county jail. If you have been given probation or a county jail sentence for those crimes, you may petition the court to have them reduced to misdemeanors. It is not automatically granted. You do not have a right to a re-classification, as in a record clearance. They must be dealt with on a case by case basis. It is best to involve a criminal defense lawyer if you have questions about re-classifying a felony to a misdemeanor.

Answer: Many couples that are not usually physically abusive to each other have found themselves facing domestic violence charges for what they believed was just an argument. While it certainly is not a crime to argue with your significant other, I have seen domestic violence arrests made over a tug of war over house or car keys, a door slammed in a spouse’s face, a push, or even robust wrestling over the blankets in bed. Domestic violence arrests result in the police taking the “offending” partner to jail, even when the spouse who called the police, sometimes simply out of anger, or because “things were getting out of hand”, asks the police not to arrest the party or just to give the other person a lecture. The police department is not a marriage counseling service. When 911 is dialed and a domestic violence incident is reported, officers come out to the home with the intention of investigating a crime and arresting a spousal abuser. If you have been arrested for domestic violence, you need legal assistance. The consequences involve a jail term, a period of probation, and a one year long counseling program for which absences are not excused. A conviction for domestic violence is considered a violent crime. The arrested party is almost never allowed to be released without bail, no matter what are the wishes of the “abused” party. These crimes can also result in deportation for parties who are not U.S. citizens. Needless to say, although this type of arrest can occur in a volatile argument between spouses who normally have a good relationship, a conviction for these charges will mar your relationship with your spouse and family, as well as result in a criminal record. If you have been arrested for domestic violence, do not just wait to see what happens in court contact San Jose Criminal Defense Attorney Maureen F. Baldwin now.

Answer: You should contact a San Jose Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as you are arrested or the police contact you to ask you “a few questions”. Many people make the mistake of thinking that telling the police you want to talk to a criminal defense attorney first will make them “look guilty”. Others think “I can handle this myself.” If you are being investigated for a crime, you need to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney before you agree to go to the police station to answer a few questions.

Police detectives have years of experience in exactly how to conduct an interview with a criminal suspect. You are at the disadvantage of having either NO information about the subject of the interview or sometimes even having the WRONG information. Police are allowed to lie to you in an investigation. Police do not have to inform you if they are recording an interview with a criminal suspect, or even a telephone conversation. You cannot take back what you have already said to police later! The U.S. Supreme Court realized that the average suspect did not understand all of his/her constitutional rights when they decided the Miranda vs. Arizona case. You need to contact a criminal defense attorney before you get into a problem.

Answer: The first court appearance is called the arraignment. That means that the criminal defendant is advised of his charges. If the matter is a misdemeanor, the defendant will be given an opportunity to plead not guilty, guilty or no contest. If you plead guilty or no contest, your case is over and you are sentenced that day. The court does not accept a guilty or no contest plea when you don’t have an attorney without advising you completely of your constitutional rights. That means if you plead guilty or no contest, and then decide to hire an attorney to fight the case, it is usually difficult to do so because the court has advised you of the rights you are waiving (giving up).

If the matter is a felony, the court will not accept a guilty or no contest plea from a criminal defendant who does not have an attorney. You will be asked to hire an attorney and come back with that attorney. If you do not have money for an attorney, the court will refer you to the Public Defender and order you to keep the appointment anc then come back.

In many cases, not having an attorney at the time of the first court appearance is simply an inconvenience since it means you have to come back on a different day with your attorney.

There are some exceptions. 1) The court can adjust bail at the time of the arraignment. This usually happens if the defendant is in custody. It can happen when the defendant is out of jail also. For example, if you are arrested for a DUI, and the police record check does not pick up some out-of-county prior DUIs, you might get released without having to pay bail (own recognizance). By the time the case is in court, the DA will have run a full record of your prior convictions. If you go to court out of custody as a first DUI offender, but you really have one or two DUI prior offenses, the judge at arraignment will likely raise your bail on the spot. That means you will go back into custody until you can post the higher bail.

The second common exception is in the domestic violence setting. When someone is arrested for misdemeanor or felony domestic violence, the alleged victim is asked if he/she wants a restraining order. They may not want a restraining order. Or the restraining order period may be over by the time the defendant has his first court date. In all domestic violence matters in California, the court WILL issue some sort of protective order. If the defendant goes to court alone, without the alleged victim, the court will likely order a no contact order. That means you cannot go home or even talk to your spouse.

If you have an attorney present, you are prepared for problems such as the two I have discussed. You can have bail money ready if you know the judge will raise the bail in a situation like the prior uncharged DUIs. If the judge will consider treatment alternatives, you can be in a program to avoid higher bail, depending on the judge and how many prior DUIs are on your record. In the domestic setting, if the alleged victim does not want charges to go forward, that person can inform the court that he or she does not want a no-contact order. Some judges simply then issue simpler “peaceful contact orders.” Other judges will inform the alleged victim that if he/she takes an educational program, the case can be placed back on calendar after the class has been completed. This limits the time out of the house for the defendant. Often this is very important to both members of the couple due to babysitting problems and extra money required to maintain 2 separate households for the same couple.

You should always check with an attorney if you are considering just making that first court appearance alone. You may find that it will be costlier than hiring the attorney before your first court date!

Answer: When the police have called you to ask you questions, or after you have been arrested for a criminal offense, most people are frightened and act in a panic. Many people will call the same person a family member or co-worker called when that person was in trouble. Sometimes these are good choices. But remember, cousin Joey’s situation is very different from yours and his expectations from a criminal defense lawyer for his medical marijuana case may not be the same as your needs in a domestic violence case or a drug sales case.

The California State Bar website publishes attorney discipline. AVVO publishes ratings of lawyers by other lawyers or by their clients. Many attorneys have websites with information on the types of cases they have handled. You should look for things such as whether the attorney practices exclusively criminal defense or if the attorney will handle any type of case that pays the bills. You also need to be comfortable with your criminal defense attorney. When I take someone’s case, I ask many personal questions, both about the crime charged as well as about your life, your work, school, community work, etc. You need to feel secure that your criminal defense attorney will do the best job possible for your case, whether it is as serious as a homicide or sex case, or as simple as a petty theft.

You need to take enough time to make an informed choice. This may be one of the most important decisions you will make. Do not simply run down a list of phone numbers as though you are calling to see who delivers Hawaiian Pizza in your neighborhood!

An experienced criminal defense attorney will not agree to take every single case in every single courthouse, just to take your money, but will let you know if he/she is a fit depending on the timing of your criminal case, the attorney’s caseload, the jurisdiction where the case occurs, as well as your budget.

Answer: Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer from San Jose Criminal Law Office is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Even if you are hiring us on behalf of a friend or loved-one in jail, or from outside the San Jose, CA area, we make it simple to get the legal representation you or the defendant deserves. Just follow these three easy steps:

Step 1: Contact Us

If you are local, just call or e-mail our office to set up an appointment.

Hiring From Out of the Area

If you are calling or writing from out of the area, we can consult by way of phone for basic information. If you wish to meet in person, contact us to set an appointment. On the other hand, if you decide after phone consultation to hire us, our company can take payment by either check or by major credit cards and e-mail the fee agreement to you.

Step 2: Free, Confidential Consultation

Your first consultation is to determine if we will be working together and is free and confidential. We will discuss your case, your options and how to move forward. Our office is located in downtown San Jose at:

255 N. Market St., Suite 170
San Jose, CA 95110
Map and Directions

Hiring On Behalf of Someone in Jail

If you are calling or writing on behalf of someone in jail, we will need to talk to you first before seeing the prospective client. If we will be meeting someone in jail, you will need to give us his/her name, date of birth, location (which jail is he in?), and booking number if you have it. If you don’t have that information, simply the name and date of birth and county of incarceration are most important. We do take collect calls. All calls from the jail are collect.

Step 3: Retainer Contract and Fee Agreement

After we meet, if you decide to hire our firm, we will complete a contract or retainer agreement setting forth what you can expect from us and the payment our office would expect from you.

Answer: At the Law Office of San Jose Criminal Defense Attorney Maureen Furlong Baldwin, attorney Baldwin will personally handle your case. Many people complain that when they research a criminal defense attorney, the lawyer that they hired does not actually come to court. That is not the case in the San Jose Criminal Law Office. I take your case seriously, whether it is a petty theft, a domestic violence, or a murder, and will handle it personally.

As with all San Jose Criminal Defense Lawyers with an established practice, there are times when the attorney is in trial or has been ordered by the court to be in two courts at the same time. I am sensitive that your time is valuable. When those situations occur where I am scheduled to cover two matters, I let the client know in advance. In many instances, it is not necessary for the client to be in court for every court appearance. When there is an unavoidable conflict, I will associate another criminal defense attorney to cover your court appearance, simply to postpone the matter until I am available.

Your phone calls regarding the status of your criminal case will be returned quickly, no later than the evening after court. I communicate by e-mail and am happy to update my clients about the status of their case via e-mail if this is what they wish. However, your privacy is paramount. I will not leave case status voice mails or e-mails, or send U.S. mail unless I am informed that you personally will be able to access these communications. The Law Office of San Jose Criminal Defense Attorney Maureen Furlong Baldwin will treat your case with all the personal attention and care that is required.

Answer: According to California Penal Code section 1203.4, a defendant has the right to have his or her guilty pleas set aside and the case dismissed after successful completion of probation. This is commonly referred to as a record clearance. Obtaining a record clearance can sometimes be combined with a motion to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor. When a criminal defendant is charged with a felony for which he/she is placed on probation, and the crime is an alternative felony/misdemeanor (wobbler), after successful completion of probationary requirements, the defendant can apply to the court to have the balance of their probation shortened in many circumstances, as well as having certain felonies reduced to misdemeanors, and their case will show as dismissed pursuant to PC 1203.4. While this is not the same as avoiding the conviction in the first place, it can be an excellent help in getting your criminal record cleaned up to avoid problems with potential employers. Most medium to large sized companies now hire firms to check a prospective employee’s criminal record. In today’s tight job market, this may result in your being turned down instead of hired.