Criminal Defense Case

All Criminal Defense Case Articles

Are DNA samples, collected after a conviction for a felony, destroyed after a Prop 47 reduction?

California law allows law enforcement to collect DNA samples in a variety of circumstances, including after a defendant incurs a conviction for a fe...

read more


What is compassionate release?

Compassionate release policies allow for the release of prisoners for whom death is imminent.

read more


What happens if a parolee violates a condition of parole?

If a parolee violates a condition of release, the parole board may revoke parole and order the parolee returned to prison. Before this happens, howe...

read more


Motions to Suppress Identifications

A motion to suppress an identification is a common defense method of seeking a judge’s ruling that a pretrial identification is inadmissible becau...

read more


Can I sue the prosecution for filing charges against me?

Most people who believe they’ve been wrongly accused of a crime want to know what recourses are available.

read more


What happens at a bail hearing?

When authorities arrest and take a suspect into custody, they typically set bail according to a pre-established

read more


What are "re-direct" and "re-cross" examination?

“Direct” examination refers to a lawyer’s questions of his or her own witness.

read more


Access to Police Personnel Files for Criminal Defendants

As anyone who has ever contested a traffic ticket knows, courts frequently assume that whatever an officer says is the truth, even when witnesses re...

read more


What is a "serious" or "violent" felony?

Three strikes laws establish severe penalties for defendants with qualifying prior convictions, even those who aren’t charged with a third strike.

read more


Handling Cross-Examination

On cross-examination, lawyers are allowed to ask leading questions. They typically ask narrow questions intended to force the witness to provide cer...

read more


How Innocent Defendants Handle Criminal Charges

Even the most well-intentioned prosecutors file charges against innocent suspects occasionally. Regardless of the reason charges were filed, innocen...

read more


Consideration of Dismissed Charges at Sentencing

Dean agrees to plead guilty to armed robbery. In exchange, the prosecution agrees to dismiss the remaining charges against him: assault and burglary.

read more


"Chain of Custody" for Evidence

“Chain of custody” typically refers to the foundation the prosecution needs to establish for certain types of exhibits to be admitted into evide...

read more


What kind of community service can a judge order?

Community service, also known as community

read more


Joint Trials for for Codefendants

A joint trial of codefendants (also known as “joinder”) occurs when a judge merges the cases of two or more defendants.

read more


Expert Witness Testimony

Experts have special education, training, or experience that allows them to testify to their opinions on matters beyond everyday understanding. They...

read more


Witnesses and Personal Knowledge

Witnesses in both criminal and civil cases can’t testify about something they don’t personally know about. The “personal knowledge” rule (Fe...

read more


Investigating a Criminal Case: Experts, Investigators, and Subpoenas

Interviewing prosecution witnesses can be a critical component of preparing a defense in a criminal case. But there are other forms of investigation...

read more


Warrants and the Knock-Notice Rule

The “knock-notice” or “knock-and-announce” rule derives from the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures....

read more


California's Consideration of Jury Duty for Noncitizens

Once again on the cutting edge of expanding legal rights, California may soon become the first state to allow immigrants with green cards to sit on ju...

read more


The Defense’s Duty to Turn Over Discovery

Most of the law regarding discovery in criminal cases focuses on what the prosecution must disclose to the defense. After all, the prosecution is th...

read more


Habeas Corpus Procedure

A writ of habeas corpus is a court order mandating a change in the term or conditions of a person’s confinement. State and federal courts issue a...

read more


The Writ of Habeas Corpus

Defendants who want to challenge the legality of their imprisonment—or the conditions in which they are being imprisoned—may seek help from a co...

read more


Police Searches of Backyards

The Fourth Amendment protects your home—including your yard—from warrantless searches in most instances. Your yard is considered “curtilage,”...

read more


Appeals and "Harmless" Errors

When defendants appeal their convictions they present all the errors they think the trial judge made (and some they’re just hoping the appellate c...

read more


Competency to Stand Trial

A person who isn’t competent to stand trial can’t be convicted of a crime.

read more


Immunity in Exchange for Testimony

“You have the right to remain silent” is perhaps the most recognized adage in our criminal justice system. This rule comes from the Fifth Amendmen...

read more


Discovery of Information Helpful to the Defense

As part of their obligation to pursue justice and promote fairness, prosecutors have a duty to reveal “favorable” information to the defense, as...

read more


Typical Three Strikes Laws

Three strikes laws, also called habitual offender laws, increase prison sentences for so-called “career criminals,” repeat offenders who’ve be...

read more


Criminal Trial Publicity

Anyone accused of a criminal offense has the right to a public trial under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

read more


External Influences on Juries

Jury tampering is a crime that occurs when people improperly influence jurors. Jurors can also be improperly influenced—sometimes by their own doing...

read more


Jury Nullification

A trial jury is supposed to serve only as a "fact finder": that is, to evaluate the veracity of witnesses and the strength of evidence presented at tr...

read more


Discrimination in Jury Selection

During jury selection in a criminal trial, the prosecution and defense have the opportunity to remove potential jurors whom they don’t want on the j...

read more


Learning the Identity of a Confidential Informant

You know the story. The mob boss falls because someone from his organization gave information to the police.

read more


Does It Matter Whether a Suspect is Given the Miranda Warning?

Video footage shows a young man in a dark baseball cap shrugging a bulky backpack off his shoulder and walking away.

read more


What Happens at Sentencing

In minor misdemeanor cases, judges frequently hand down sentences immediately after the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, or is found guilty af...

read more


The "Standard Deal": Whether It Exists and How to Get It

Just as in other negotiations, such as those of a buyer and seller in a real estate transaction, there are strategies involved in plea bargaining.

read more


Pleading Guilty: What Happens in Court

Once the deal is worked out, the prosecution and defense will arrange a court hearing and inform the judge about the agreement.

read more


Why Judges and Prosecutors Engage in Plea Bargaining

For judges, the primary incentive to accept plea bargains is to move along their crowded calendars. Most judges simply don’t have time to try ever...

read more


The Benefits of a Plea Bargain

For most defendants, the principal benefit to plea bargaining is receiving a lighter sentence for a less severe charge than might result from a conv...

read more


The Basics of a Plea Bargain

A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and a prosecutor, in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) ...

read more


First-Offender Programs

A "first offender" program is a way for a defendant to avoid the full effects of a criminal prosecution. It’s a type of diversion, often for those...

read more


Do I Need a Lawyer When I'm Charged with a Crime?

Defendants charged with crimes are almost always best served by obtaining a lawyer, for the reasons explained below.

read more


All About Preliminary Hearings, or “Prelims”

Preliminary hearings, often referred to as "prelims," require the prosecutor to show enough credible evidence to a judge to convince that judge to sen...

read more


Testifying Before a Grand Jury

Your rights in a grand jury room -- whether called as a witness or as the target of the investigation -- are very limited.

read more


Grand Jury Basics

A grand jury is a group of citizens that hears evidence presented by the prosecutor and decides whether there's probable cause to believe that a crime...

read more


Arrests That Don’t Result in Criminal Charges

Many factors go into a prosecutor's decision not to file charges against an arrested suspect.

read more


How the Prosecutor Decides Which Cases to Charge

Police officers arrest suspects, but prosecutors decide whether to file formal charges against suspects. Learn how charges are filed and what factors...

read more


Violating Conditions of O.R.

Failing to abide by the conditions of your OR release can land you in jail.

read more


How Judges Decide to Release You on Your Own Recognizance, or "OR"

Release on your own recognizance means you don't have to pay bail. 

read more


What happens if I fail to show up in court after bailing out of jail?

Bail jumpers face the loss of the bail amount, plus a warrant for their arrest.

read more


Limits to How Much Bail the Judge Can Require

Bail should not be used to punish a defendant, or raise money for the state. Its valid use is to secure the defendant's presence at trial.

read more


Convincing a Judge to Lower the Initial Bail

A defendant with strong ties to the community is not likely to flee--and may warrant a lowered bail because of it.

read more


How Judges Set Bail

Judges set bail based initially on a "bail schedule," but they can raise or lower the amount, based on the circumstances of the case.

read more


Acceptable Forms of Bail

Bail helps ensure that defendant show up in court.

read more


Getting Information About and Helping Booked Arrestees

Sometimes, a local bail bondsman may have the most up-to-date information. Booked arrestees with health issues can be helped by contacting the jail di...

read more


Your Rights During Booking

Suspects aren't entitled to Miranda warnings during booking -- and should avoid any unnecessary conversations.

read more


What Happens During Booking?

Defendants who are taken to jail are normally booked shortly upon arrival.

read more


Arrests Without Initial Probable Cause

Can facts learned after the arrest support an arrest that was without probable cause at the time?

read more


Arrest Warrants: What's in Them, How Police Get Them

Police must convince a neutral judge that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and the subject of the warrant was involved.

read more


When the Police Can Make an Arrest: Probable Cause

"Probable cause" requires more than a mere suspicion that a suspect committed a crime, but not as much information as would be required to prove a sus...

read more


What Is an Arrest?

Whether a person is "under arrest" depends on the circumstances of the police encounter.

read more


Sentencing Alternatives: Prison, Probation, Fines, and Community Service

Criminal sentences may involve one or more different elements, including incarceration (prison, jail), probation, restitution (victim compensation), a...

read more


Defendants' Incentives for Accepting Plea Bargains

The crowding of criminal courts puts pressure on judges and prosecutors to resolve cases quickly. This provides defendants with an opportunity to neg...

read more


Criminal Trial Procedures: An Overview

The many rituals followed in criminal trials have developed over centuries. America's common law heritage makes it possible for all states and the fed...

read more


Bail: Getting Out of Jail After an Arrest

A person's first thought upon landing in jail is often how to get out -- and fast. The usual way to do this is to "post bail". Bail is cash or a cash ...

read more


Guidelines for Talking to the Police

Time-tested rules of thumb when it comes to speaking with a police officer.

read more


When to Answer a Police Officer's Questions

In some circumstances, it may be helpful to speak with police officers, but you may also want to delay the conversation.

read more


Demanding Identification from People on the Street

Many states have “stop and identify” laws. Under these laws, if a police officer reasonably suspects that someone has engaged in criminal activity...

read more


Stopping and Questioning People on the Street

Police officers may seek information from people whom they have no immediate intention of arresting, whether they are suspects or simply appear to be ...

read more


Diversion Programs

Most states have recognized that low-level offenses, particularly those committed by first-time offenders, shouldn’t necessarily trigger the normal ...

read more


NOLO-web3:DRU1.6.12.2.20161011.41205