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THE MORRIS LAW OFFICE, INC. is proud to offer the following BASIC Questions and Answers:
Can my case get dismissed?
Remember first that I cannot and will not guarantee a particular result in any criminal case.
Also remember that the prosecutor proceeds with a case if the prosecutor believes that he or she can prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That said, I proceed with your interests in mind always and, of course, a dismissal is the best result possible. I am constantly focused on making your difficult situation as good as I can make it.
What are your fees like?
I am not cheap. But my clients tell me that I am worth the investment, every cent. I hammer out a fee contract which spells out everything about our agreement, the cost, what the fees cover, etcetera.
Do I get my bail money back?
That depends. If your entire bail amount is in cash, it is all returned to you at the end of the case. If you used the assistance of a bail bond company, the premium is typically ten percent of the bail amount set. At the end of your case, the bail bond is exonerated and any interest that the bail company may have had in terms of collateral that you put up its lifted.
What happens if there is a hung jury?
If there is a hung jury, the prosecutor decides whether or not to impanel another jury and have another trial in criminal court. The prosecutor can also decide to dismiss charges. He or she can also decide to negotiate with me once again to see if a plea bargain can be agreed upon. I agree: if there was not a unanimous jury, doesn't that mean my case should be dismissed? Though counterintuitive, the answer is no.
What happens if the prosecutor doesn’t file charges by the date that my citation is due?
This does not necessarily mean that the prosecutor has decided not to file charges nor does it mean that the prosecutor will not file charges. There are STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS that apply to criminal cases. In misdemeanor cases this statute of limitations is one year. In felony cases this statute of limitations is three years. There is no statute of limitations in murder cases. It is presumptively reasonable for the prosecutor to file criminal charges against you within the relevant statute of limitations time period.
What information that I tell you will you tell the prosecutor and the judge?
Everything that you tell me even during your first phone call and even if you ultimately decide not to hire me, is TOTALLY CONFIDENTIAL. I do, however, and you will typically agree that I should share any and all information which helps you in your case. I do not share the information that works against you. I also share your information with experts whom you may hire for your case so that the expert can help you as much as possible.
Do we need to tell my parents/boss?
Again, everything you tell me is confidential. Even if your parents or another third party pay all of your legal fees, YOU are my client and as such, YOU and no one else makes all of the ultimate decisions in your case. If you do not want your parents or your boss to know what is going on in your life, I respect this absolutely and completely. You can also change your mind: if in the beginning of the case you decide not to tell your parents but then you change your mind and decide that you want to share the information with them, either all or in part, I will respect your wishes and change mid-case with you.
What is going to happen to me?
Sometimes it is hard to grasp that you yourself are not in the driver’s seat during your case. However, know and trust that you are in good hands and your car is being driven by someone experienced and who really cares about you. You will always know what is going on with your case and I am always available for your questions. I am going to work extremely hard to make the best out of your difficult time. I will be there with you every step of the way.
How long is my case going to last?
This depends on all of the facts and circumstances at hand. Most DUI cases last six months. Murder cases usually last a few years. If you go to trial, the length of the trial also depends on your particular case. A petty theft trial can last one or two days. A DUI trial can take five days. A murder trial can take several weeks or longer.
Is it bad to “waive time?”
Not if it is advisable in your particular case. “Waiving time” is authorizing the court to set the case beyond statutory time frames. I recommend that my clients do this if it assists them. Your waiving time gives me the time that I need to fully offer all of the facts and circumstances that show the prosecutor that your case should be looked at differently than the “standard case.”
Am I going to lose my driver’s license? I need it for work.
In all DUI cases involving alcohol there is a criminal court case and there is attendant,separate proceeding with the DMV. Within ten calendar days of the date of your arrest, I must request a DMV hearing. During this phone contact with the Driver's Safety Office, I request all discovery, an in-person hearing and a STAY on your driver’s license. A stay means that no adverse action is taken against your license right away. Your license is a property interest protected by the state of California and as such, you have the right to notice with regard to any possible adverse action and the right to be heard in the matter. I act as your legal representative at the DMV hearing. I put up a solid fight at DMV; many times my hearings last multiple sessions. My goal is your goal: to win your license back. Your stay lasts as long as our fight with DMV continues to be pending. The DMV also many times is a wonderful tool that we use to our advantage in your criminal case.
What is the worst case scenario with regard to losing my driver’s license?
In a first offense DUI case, the worst that will happen under present law is that you will lose your driver’s license for one month. During this thirty day period, you MAY NOT DRIVE, PERIOD. After this actual suspension period, your license will be restricted for five months. The nature of this restriction depends upon different factors, including your county of arrest. Happily, if the issue is a second offense DUI, the DMV has approved a restricted license after a ninety day period of suspension with the installation of an interlock ignition device which operates as your driver’s license restriction. The DMV is a complex arena of law, particularly vis a vis criminal court.
If we lose the DMV hearing, is there anything further we can do?
Yes. I can appeal the DMV decision within fifteen days of the date noted on the adverse decision notification. The appeal goes to the main DMV in Sacramento. The representatives at the main office review the entire record of the case, including the taped hearing and makes a decision as to whether or not the DMV hearing officer below made the correct decision. If the DMV decides that the decision below was correct, and many times this is the result in an administrative appeal, we can take the further action of filing a writ, a lawsuit against the DMV, to the superior court taking it out of DMV jurisdiction. In some cases we can decide to go directly from the hearing officer’s adverse decision to superior court in a writ action, skipping the likely rubber-stamping by Sacramento. Each case is different so I will give specific attention to your particular situation when you contact me.
I have heard horror stories about attorneys not being in contact with their clients: will you be in contact with me?
I am always, even after 24 years of practice, stunned when I hear that the number one State Bar complaint is an attorney’s failure to keep in contact with his or her clients. In my office, this is an extremely important priority . After all, it is your case and it is your life. We know how important this is.
Do I really need an attorney?
Most of the time in a criminal case the answer is ABSOLUTELY.
Shouldn’t I hire a “local” attorney?
Not necessarily. “Local attorney” usually implies that the attorney under consideration is in that particular court day in and day out Monday through Friday. The local attorney may be more likely to be fearful to push on any one particular case too hard, thinking that he may need to “save up a favor” for a later time. I do not have this mentality. I PUSH when pushing is needed, irrespective of how it might "look." Talk to me about the Sabrina Limon case and the relation of this concept.
Why do I need you?
Because this is what I do, I am good at what I do and I truly care about you and your situation. I will serve you and you will feel that. If your physical body system is sick, you go to the treating doctor. If your life system is sick, for example, with a criminal case, you go to the appropriate person to “treat” you, me. I am a criminal defense attorney, skilled to handle your case and I will do everything that I possibly can for you. Many times I am hired sight unseen due to the referring person's comments about me. I am happy to meet you in person, close and convenient for you if you prefer, and when you meet me, you will recognize that I am the attorney that you want and need.
I have a graduate degree: why can't I represent myself?
You "can," but definitely not like I can. If you have a disease that needs to be treated with surgery and you read ten pages on it, are you ready to operate? It’s the same with your criminal case in court. It is my job to flesh out your case considering the facts and the law, to give you a human face and to make the tough situation that you are in good as it can be under the circumstances.
The above obviously is not an exhaustive list of frequently asked questions. There are many, many, more, and many, more likely that you have RIGHT NOW and that you want answers to RIGHT NOW. Call me so that we can schedule time to sit together and talk about all of them. Let me help you. It will be my pleasure to do so and you will be very grateful that you made the investment that you did.