Frequently Asked Questions About Alameda and Contra Costa County Criminal Charges:
What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in California?
All crimes are classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are lesser offenses that are usually non-violent in nature, such as DUI, petty theft, probation violations, prostitution, and simple drug possession. The penalties for a misdemeanor crime typically include no more than a year in county jail, fines no larger than $1,000, probation, and community service. Felony offenses are the serious crimes that will result in much stricter penalties, such as incarceration in state prison for more than one year, more than $1,000 in fines, probation, driver's license suspension, community service, and sometimes mandatory registration as an offender for life (depending on the offense). Examples of felony crimes include aggravated DUI, grand theft, major drug crimes, weapons offenses, assault & battery, hit & run, and most sex crimes.
If I am charged with DUI or other offense in the Bay Area, will my license be suspended?
Just because you were charged with DUI, does not mean your license will be suspended. When you're arrested, the police officer will suspend your license but issue a temporary permit that is good for 30 days. You then have 10 business days to schedule an administrative hearing with the California DMV. At this hearing, you will have the opportunity to contest the suspension of your driver's license. If you are successful, your license will be returned to you. This is why it's so important to hire an attorney. An experienced defense attorney like Lynn Gorelick can help you fight to keep your license!
What penalties do I stand to face if I'm convicted of a crime in Alameda or Contra Costa County?
If you are convicted of a crime, the penalties will depend mostly on the offense committed, but also on whether or not you have any prior convictions on your record, if weapons were involved, and if anyone was injured or killed as a result of your crime. All people convicted of a crime stand to face incarceration, large fines, probation, community service, counseling or treatment, restitution to the victim, driver's license suspension, and a mark on their permanent record.
Is there any way to avoid going to jail, or is inevitable after getting arrested in California?
Jail is never inevitable! A skilled and experienced defense attorney like Lynn Gorelick can negotiate with the judge and prosecution for a reduction or dismissal of your charges. One of the most effective ways to avoid jail is by completing a diversion program (see next question). If you have been charged with a crime, Ms. Gorelick can defend you in court, and use her knowledge, skills, and resources to help you avoid a conviction that will send you to jail. Ms. Gorelick has help many clients avoid going to jail, and can do the same for you.
What are California diversion programs?
Diversion programs are basically an alternative sentence. Instead of being sent to jail or prison, a criminal offender can correct their wrongdoing by successfully completing a diversion program. These programs focus on treatment, counseling, and rehabilitation so that the offender is not likely to commit a crime in the future. If an offender is able to successfully complete a diversion program, then his or her charges will be dropped. However, if for any reason the offender does not adhere to the terms of the program, he or she can be charged or sent back to jail for his or her original crimes.
Is it possible to get my charges dropped after an arrest in Alameda or Contra Costa County?
Absolutely! Criminal charges get reduced and dropped all the time. Attorney Lynn Gorelick has helped many clients avoid a conviction by getting their charges reduced or dropped to a lesser offense, and would be proud to provide you with the same defense services.
What if California officers want to search my car or home?
In order to conduct a search of your property, the police must have a court-issued search warrant or compelling, justifiable cause. If the police search you or your property without justifiable cause or without a search warrant, it is a violation of state and federal search and seizure laws, and any evidence they collected will be thrown out of court.
What areas of the Bay Area do you serve?
Lynn Gorelick has offices in Hayward and Pleasanton, but extends her services to clients in Solano, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Oakland, San Leadro, San Lorenzo, Fremont, Pleasanton, Castro Valley, Dublin, Livermore, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Danville and all other cities throughout the entire Bay Area.