Prentiss Law


Criminal Procedure

Misdemeanors, basic process:

All misdemeanor cases begin when you are arrested, cited by police or contacted by the District Attorney's Office. The sooner you contact my office after an incident the sooner I can begin to form your defense. Sometimes it is possible to avoid a charge all together.

If you are charged the next step in the process is your arraignment. An arraignment is the court appearance in which a plea is entered. Assuming a not guilty plea is entered, a further court date will be scheduled. That next court date is called a settlement conference. The purpose of the settlement conference is to give myself and the prosecutor a chance to discuss your case. If the prosecutor is not willing to dismiss your case or make an acceptable offer to resolve the matter, the next step is a jury trial.

A jury trial is a complicated venture and a sucessful trial attorney is an experienced one. I have had the privilege of defending dozens of cleints at jury trials. I have experience in misdemeanor as well as felony trials. Ranging from DUI, to thefts, to violent crime. When your freedom is at stake, and you are facing a seasoned prosecutor, you need someone who knows exactly what to do. I can provide a well researched, vigorous and complete defense.

Misdemeanors: DUI:

Although any criminal case has the potential to be complicated, DUI's are a special kind of case which is almost guaranteed to be complicated. Motions, expert testimony, traffic accidents, DMV consequences and many other factors combine to make DUI's stand out as generally the most complicated misdemeanor case. Many attorneys claim to be DUI "experts", but I'm here to tell you that very often these attorneys are anything but experts. To truly understand how to defend a DUI, a lawyer must not only have experience in all aspects of the charge, but he must also have the time to concentrate on this unique crime.

Criminal Procedure: Felony Basic Process:

It is important to know what to expect while in the serious situation of being charged with a felony. If the District Attorney decides to charge you with a felony (note: it is possible in some cases to convince the District Attorney not to file charges at all or charge as a misdemeanor instead) the next stage is arraignment. Your arraignment is your first appearance in court. Usually this is a brief appearance where I will enter a not guilty plea on your behalf and furture dates will be set.

Two future dates will be set at your arraignment. The first date is called plea/disposition date and the second, normally the day after, is set for your preliminary hearing. The plea/disopositional date (commonly referred to as a plea/dispo) is the first chance after charges have been filed to try to resolve the matter. This date will give me a chance to speak with all the interested parties involved in your case. It also affords me the first chance to persuade the Deputy District Attorney assigned to the case to dismiss the case or make some type of acceptable offer to resolve the case. If the case does not resolve at the plea/dispo, the next step is the preliminary hearing.

A preliminary hearing is not a trial. It is a probable cause hearing where the court decides whether it has a strong suspicion you have committed the crime. This is much different from a jury trial, with a much lower standard. If the court does not dismiss the case at preliminary hearing, a jury trial is set. Most of us have an idea of what a jury trial looks like, either from T.V., the movies or personal experience. However, a jury trial in real life is much different and is a complicated and serious undertaking. Although there are no guarantees, I have taken many cases to trial and have the experience needed to produce favorable outcomes for my clients.

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