Criminal Law

criminal-lawyerIf you have been contacted by a police officer or other law enforcement official, arrested, or charged with a crime, your liberty may be at stake. Time is of the essence. You have a right to a lawyer at all critical stages of a criminal proceeding, including during police interrogation. You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer, one who knows the prosecutors and judges because she has worked with them for years. You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows how prosecutors think because she was a prosecutor herself for almost six years. You need to call Attorney Heather Sutton Buckley, managing attorney with The Buckley Law Firm, before it is too late.

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you may be scared, confused, embarrassed, upset, depressed, or anxious. Act quickly by calling The Buckley Law Firm to discuss your case. Do NOT speak with law enforcement officials, probation officers, members of the media, family members or friends about the facts of your case, believing you will explain your side of the story and everything will be alright. You may make your case worse. Call The Buckley Law Firm to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will explain your constitutional rights.

If you have been charged with a crime, you want to know what will happen next. If you are in custody, you want to know how soon you will be released. Experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Buckley Law Firm will explain the likely stages of the California criminal court process. We will explain your opportunities to be released from custody.

Released with Citation
In many misdemeanors, the police officer will give you a citation for the offense he believes you have violated. The citation will describe the time and date for you to appear in court for arraignment. The officer will ask you to sign the citation with a promise to appear at your arraignment and you will remain free in the community until your arraignment.

O.R. Release
If you are in custody, the court may release you on your own recognizance (O.R.) at the arraignment hearing depending on the facts of your case, your ties to the community, your criminal history, and other factors. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will know how to advocate for your release on O.R.

Out on Bail
At your arraignment, the judge will review your case and set bail in an amount deemed sufficient to ensure your appearance. The amount of bail required is typically set according to a local bail schedule. An experienced defense lawyer may argue for a departure from the bail schedule depending on the facts of your case.

What is a hold and why can’t I get out of jail?
It is important to check for all types of holds before arranging for your release on bail or O.R. Holds may be placed on a defendant because of an out-of-county warrant, open probation case, active parole case, or your immigration status. Experienced criminal defense attorneys with The Buckley Law Firm know who to call and when to call the appropriate officials in San Luis Obispo County or Santa Barbara County to help coordinate release of holds.

Should I stay in custody, or pay any amount to get out?
Depending on the facts of your case, there may be some advantages to delaying your release from custody. Some advantages of a delayed release may include: misdemeanor charges may be filed rather than felony charges with a lower bail schedule, a request at arraignment for a lower bail amount than the amount called for by the schedule may be granted, or a request for release on your own recognizance (O.R.) may be granted. Disadvantages to delaying your release from custody may include: increased bail because a misdemeanor arrest turned into a felony because, for example, a victim is found to have injuries that were not apparent at first, prior criminal convictions are discovered, or parole or probation holds are placed.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer at The Buckley Law Firm will explain the advantages and disadvantages of delaying your release from custody.

Flowchart: General Overview of Criminal Court Process

Misdemeanor cases

Arrest –> Arraignment hearing–> Pre-trial hearings/Pre-trial motions –> Trial –> Sentencing hearing

Felony cases

Arrest —> Arraignment hearing—> Pre-trial hearings —> Preliminary hearing —>
Arraignment on Information —> Pre-trial motions —> Trial —> Sentencing hearing

Bench Warrants:
If you failed to appear for a hearing set in your criminal case, the judge may have issued a bench warrant. Your freedom is in jeopardy. Attorney Heather Sutton Buckley with The Buckley Law Firm may, depending on the circumstances of your case, be able to help you get your bench warrant recalled and keep you out of jail. A bench warrant is the process used to bring a defendant, who has failed to appear, before the court. Your failure to appear in court may result in the issuance of a bench warrant in the following, nonexclusive list of situations:

-You were ordered released from custody by a judge to personally appear in court at a specific time and     you failed to appear;

-You were released from custody on bail and ordered by a judge to accept bail, to personally appear in     court at a specific time, and you failed to appear;

-You were released from custody on your own recognizance (O.R.) and promised to appear at a specific     time and you failed to appear;

-You were released from custody or arrest on a citation and signed a promise to appear in court at a     specific time and you failed to appear.

Call The Buckley Law Firm to learn more about how to get a bench warrant recalled in San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara counties.

Criminal Threats – California Penal Code Section 422
If you threaten to kill someone or physically harm someone and that person is thereby placed in sustained fear and your threat was specific and unequivocal, you may be arrested and charged with making a “criminal threat.” This crime may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony criminal threats conviction is a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law. “Criminal threats” may be charged whether or not you have the ability to carry out the threat. You don’t even have to actually intend to carry out the threat! Call The Buckley Law Firm today to learn more about all of the possible defenses to this charge and the consequences of your plea.

Domestic Violence – California Penal Code Sections 273.5 and 243(e)(1)
Have you been arrested for a domestic violence related dispute? California domestic violence laws make it illegal for you to inflict force on an intimate partner – a fiance, spouse, cohabitant, dating partner, parent of your child. You do not have to cause any visible injury to be charged with domestic violence.

Sometimes an accuser will make false allegations of domestic violence to gain the upper hand in a divorce or child custody proceeding. Attorney Heather Sutton Buckley regularly handles criminal defense and family law cases in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. It is a distinct advantage to have an experienced lawyer who specializes in criminal law and family law advocating for you in court. Call The Buckley Law Firm to learn more about how your case will be investigated and presented in court to the prosecutor, to the judge, and potentially to a jury.

Drug Crimes – Health and Safety Code Sections 11377 and 11378, 11350 and 11351, 11550
Whether you have been charged with simple possession of an illegal controlled substance, possession for sales, or for being under the influence of an illegal controlled substance, The Buckley Law Firm will fight for your charges to be dismissed, reduced, or for you to enter a drug treatment program if possible. Drug addiction is a disease that, in some cases, requires a life-long commitment to treatment. Attorney Heather Sutton Buckley knows how to present your unique circumstances to the prosecutor and to the judge in order to secure the best possible outcome in your case. Call The Buckley Law Firm today for a free consultation.

Driving Under the Influence – California Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a) and (b)
If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you need to act quickly by hiring an experienced, DUI lawyer from The Buckley Law Firm. Whether or not you wish to contest your DUI, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.

In order to convict you of driving under the influence in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), the prosecutor must prove that (1) you drove a motor vehicle and that (2) you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when you drove. To prove that you are in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23152(b), the prosecutor must prove that (1) you drove a motor vehicle and that (2) at the time you drove, you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher.  Attorney Heather Sutton Buckley spent years prosecuting DUI cases in Santa Barbara County. She knows what the prosecutor must prove and the facts that must be argued in order to convince the judge or jury that you are guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in criminal court. Were you barely over the legal limit? Were you weaving within your lane? Did you refuse a chemical test? Were you stopped at a DUI checkpoint? Were you sleeping in your car when the officer contacted you? Were you arrested for DUI following a motor vehicle accident? Were you under the influence of prescription medication when you were cited for DUI? Were you in your home when law enforcement contacted you about reports that you were possibly driving under the influence? Call us today to learn how your case will be presented to a jury if you contest your DUI in criminal court.

DMV hearings
Attorney Heather Sutton Buckley will also represent you at your DMV hearing. You must request a DMV hearing within ten (10) days of your DUI arrest. The DMV hearing is an administrative process, separate and distinct from the criminal court process. You need an experienced DUI defense attorney who is skilled at arguing the facts of your case at the DMV hearing. Without advocacy from The Buckley Law Firm, you don’t stand a chance at your DMV hearing. Call The Buckley Law Firm today for a free consultation.

The following chart provides a summary of DMV penalties for DUI. (Vehicle Code Sections 13352, 23152):

1st DUI ———— .08 or greater  ———- 6 month suspension

Refusal to submit to testing  ———– 1 year suspension

2nd DUI w/in 10 years ————  .08 or greater ————- 2 year suspension

2nd DUI or more w/in 10 years  —————- DUI w/injury ————– 5 year revocation

Refusal to submit to testing  ——————– 2 year revocation

3rd DUI w/in 10 years ————— .08 or greater ————– 3 year revocation

Refusal to submit to testing  —————–3 year revocation

4th DUI w/in 10 years or 2nd DUI following prior felony DUI—————-.08 or greater ————– 4 year revocation

Refusal to submit to testing ——————– 4 year revocation

Motions to Suppress Evidence under Penal Code section 1538.5
A motion to suppress evidence under Penal Code section 1538.5 may be made when evidence was seized from a defendant in violation of the Fourth Amendment. In a DUI case, a motion to suppress evidence may challenge the traffic stop, detention, arrest, chemical test. The evidence sought to be suppressed may include symptoms of intoxication as observed by the arresting officer, the chemical test administration and results, and all observations before, during, and after administration of the chemical test.

Expungements
Do you desire a clean criminal record? You may expunge your criminal record in California if you were convicted of a misdemeanor OR felony offense and you, 1) successfully completed probation, and 2) are not currently charged with a criminal offense, on probation for a criminal offense, or serving a sentence for a criminal offense.

If you were sentenced to California state prison, you do not qualify for expungement but you may qualify for a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon. Call The Buckley Law Firm today to discuss your options for cleaning up your criminal record.

Sealing and destroying your arrest record is a distinct process from expunging your criminal record. If you were arrested but criminal charges were never filed, or your criminal case was dismissed in court or if you were acquitted by a jury following a jury trial, you may be entitled to have your arrest records sealed and destroyed. A judge must declare that you were factually innocent before granting a motion to seal and destroy your arrest record.

Fraud 
Have you been charged with violating one of California’s criminal fraud laws? You may be subjected to astronomical fines and significant jail and/or prison sentence if you are convicted of a white collar crime. If you were the victim of mistaken identity or if you did not intend to commit the fraud you may have a legal defense to the fraud charge. Attorney Heather Sutton Buckley will analyze the facts of your case, explain all of the possible defenses and the consequences of your plea to any of California’s fraud crimes.

Immigration Issues
Non-citizens who plead guilty to certain crimes may suffer severe immigration consequences such as: deportation, exclusion from admission or re-admission to the United States, and denial of naturalization of citizenship. If the court failed to advise you of your immigration consequences, you may be able to request that the court permit you to withdraw your plea and vacate the judgment. Call The Buckley Law Firm today to discuss your options.

Juvenile Law
If your child is under age 18 and has been cited, arrested, and/or charged with a crime, you need to hire a lawyer with experience representing and advocating for minors in juvenile court. Juvenile delinquency proceedings are primarily governed by the Welfare and Institutions Code, the Penal Code, and applicable Rules of Court. Juvenile court is the division of the superior court in which juvenile delinquency proceedings take place. A minor receives many of the same constitutional protections that an adult would receive in criminal court. Terminology used in juvenile court is much different than terminology used in adult criminal court. For instance, there is no “conviction” in juvenile court and the accused is not referred to as “the defendant.” Rather, the accused is referred to as a “minor” and will either “admit” or “deny” an offense rather than plead “guilty” or “not guilty.”

Attorney Heather Sutton Buckley has prosecuted and defended minors in juvenile court for the past seven years. She understands how frightening it is to learn your child has been stopped, arrested, and/or charged with a crime. Call The Buckley Law Firm to discuss your child’s case today.

Probation Violations
Were you accused of failing to comply with your terms and conditions of probation, including the condition to refrain from committing a new crime? You may be facing increased fines or worse – jail or prison time.

When a motion to revoke your probation is filed by the district attorney, you have a right to a court trial. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you at your probation violation (or probation revocation) hearing or court trial. The standard for revocation of your probation is by a preponderance of the evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Many issues may surface at your probation violation hearing. Are you actually still on probation? If you failed to pay restitution or pay a fine, can you be found in violation of probation if the district attorney cannot show you had the ability to pay? Call The Buckley Law Firm today to discuss your options.

Theft Crimes
Attorney Heather Sutton Buckley has successfully represented clients in theft cases such as: petty theft, grand theft, identity theft, receiving stolen property, auto burglary, commercial burglary, embezzlement, and residential burglary. A theft related conviction may seriously compromise your ability to sustain and secure employment, state licensing, and other benefits. Theft offenses are considered “crimes of moral turpitude” in California. Theft convictions may have serious immigration consequences. If you have been cited, arrested, and/or charged with a theft related offense, you need to act quickly by calling The Buckley Law Firm today.