Sacramento Criminal Defense Lawyer
Helping Clients Through Misdemeanor and Felony Cases
Few things in life are as nerve-wracking as being charged with a crime. Whether you have already been formally charged or you are simply under investigation for a crime, now is the time to consult with a trusted criminal defense lawyer.
At the Law Office of Gilbert B. Vega, we strive to be the resource you turn to in your time of need. People throughout Sacramento County know they can count on our firm to fight for them tooth and nail. We leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate the allegations against you and to craft an effective defense strategy.
Our firm defends clients charged with:
- Child abuse: Various acts involving a minor can be considered child abuse. These include conduct such as physical, psychological, or sexual abuse; neglect; child pornography; and child prostitution. The state takes these offenses seriously and imposes harsh penalties on anyone convicted. However, charges often arise from false allegations, causing an innocent person to be punished.
- Domestic violence: Acts like assault, sexual assault, or emotional abuse become domestic violence when committed against a family or household member. In these cases, the DA's office can still prosecute even if the alleged victim does not want to move forward with the matter.
- Drug crimes: Controlled substance offenses come in various forms, including possession, possession with intent, manufacturing, and trafficking. They can also include possessing drug paraphernalia – the equipment used to make, package, sell, transport, or consume controlled substances.
- DUI: Driving under the influence charges are levied when someone has a BAC of 0.08 or more or is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs to the point that they cannot operate their vehicle safely. In addition to incarceration and/or fines, a conviction can result in a driver’s license suspension.
- Federal crimes: Unlawful acts that cross state lines or country borders, occur on federal property, violate federal laws, or are committed against federal employees are considered federal crimes. They are investigated by big-name agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, and ATF.
- Felonies: This is the most severe level of offense and includes crimes such as murder, rape, aggravated battery, kidnapping, and robbery. California felonies are generally punishable by 1 year or more in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Misdemeanors: Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies. Examples include petty theft, DUI, public intoxication, and drug possession. In California, potential conviction penalties include a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 (in some cases, the fine can be more).
- Sex offenses: Offenses with sexual undertones include, but are not limited to, rape, child molestation, prostitution, and child pornography. Often, these crimes carry a requirement to register as a sex offender.
- Violent crimes: Offenses committed against other people are considered violent crimes. The term encompasses acts like assault and battery, armed robbery, child abuse, domestic violence, homicide, kidnapping, and sexual assault.
- White collar crimes: Under this umbrella term are offenses that are typically financially motivated and non-violent in nature. They are often seen in the corporate sector but can be committed by anyone. Examples include bank fraud, bribery, credit card fraud, health care fraud, identity theft, insider trading, mail fraud, and tax fraud.
We offer a free consultation to discuss your case. Call our criminal defense attorney in Sacramento at (916) 249-9417 or contact us onlineto get started.
The Criminal Justice Process
When someone is accused of a crime, the case will progress through various stages. Because every situation is different, the exact steps involved may vary.
That said, the judicial process typically involves:
- A report of a crime: Law enforcement officials will be alerted to alleged criminal activity. The notification may come from a witness or victim, or an officer might have observed the illegal conduct themselves.
- Investigation: The purpose of the investigation is to establish probable cause that a crime has been committed and the suspect is the person who committed it. Investigations vary in length. For example, a DUI investigation may take a couple of hours, whereas one for a white collar crime can take a couple of months.
- Arrest: When law enforcement officials have probable cause that someone has been involved in alleged criminal activity, they will take the individual into custody.
- Charges filed: Law enforcement officials will send a report to a prosecutor who reviews it to determine whether to proceed with the case. They can pursue the matter at the charges included in the police report, bring lesser or additional charges, or drop the case altogether. The decision depends on the strength of the evidence.
- Arraignment: The defendant will make their first appearance in court. The judge will explain the charges and the defendant’s rights. They may also ask the defendant to enter a plea.
- Trial: If the defendant pleads not guilty, their case will be set for trial. The prosecutor and defense counsel will present their arguments to a judge or jury, who ultimately decides whether the defendant is guilty.
- Sentencing: If the defendant is convicted of the crime, they will be sentenced. The judge may impose incarceration, probation, fines, and other criminal penalties.
- Appeal: The defendant may challenge an unfavorable outcome if they believe that their case was affected by a legal error.
From the early stages of the criminal process, the defendant can have an attorney assist them. At the Law Office of Gilbert B. Vega, our Sacramento criminal defense lawyer is ready to jump into action and fight for our clients.
How a Defense Lawyer Can Help with Your Case
Anyone facing criminal charges has the right to a fair trial and to be free from violations of their constitutional protections. Because of the complexities of the law, it can be difficult for defendants to ensure that they are not subject to miscarriages of justice.
A criminal defense attorney is instrumental in protecting the rights of the accused. As early as the investigation, they can identify and address any overreaches of authority. For example, if officials want to question the individual about their alleged involvement in a crime, the defense lawyer can advise their client on what questions to answer (if any), preventing them from inadvertently making self-incriminating statements.
An attorney can also build a defense strategy for their client, which takes considerable effort and time. Challenging accusations requires examining and analyzing the evidence, conducting interviews, and listening to the client’s side of the story.
A criminal case can be resolved in one of two ways: through a plea deal or at trial. A defense lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to seek a just settlement. If they are unsuccessful in obtaining an outcome they and their client think is fair, the attorney could take the case to trial and have a judge or jury decide.
At the Law Office of Gilbert B. Vega, we pursue available legal avenues for our clients. Our trial-tested attorney seeks optimal results inside and outside of the courtroom.
Schedule a free initial consultation by contacting usat (916) 249-9417.
Criminal Defense FAQs
Do You Have to Speak with Police Officers?
You do not have to speak with law enforcement officials during any interactions with them, including before or after an arrest. You are protected under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution from being a witness against yourself. After you have been arrested, authorities will inform you of this right when they give you the Miranda Warning. It’s important to remain silent and consult with an attorney before saying anything to the police.
What’s the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are considered less serious crimes than felonies. In California, misdemeanors are generally punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of not more than $1,000 (exact maximums vary depending on the charge). In contrast, felonies can be penalized by up to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
What Are the Possible Penalties for a Conviction?
The potential conviction penalties depend on various factors, such as the level of charge, the defendant’s criminal history, and the person targeted. Many crimes are punishable by jail time, prison time, probation, and/or fines. Some offenses also have other penalties. For instance, a DUI may result in the loss of driving privileges, or a sex crime can lead to a requirement to register as a sex offender.
Do You Need a Lawyer if You Plan on Pleading Guilty?
Even if you are considering pleading guilty to an alleged offense, consulting with a criminal defense attorney is a good idea. They may be able to spot weaknesses in the case and develop a strategy to fight charges. A lawyer can also negotiate with the prosecutor to seek a more favorable outcome, such as getting some charges dropped or reduced or arguing for a lesser sentence.
How Do You Choose a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Choosing a lawyer for you is vital in a criminal case. After all, this individual will be fighting for you during one of the most difficult times in your life. Before retaining legal representation, research different lawyers, reading reviews from past clients and seeing if they have handled cases like yours. Schedule a consultation with potential attorneys and ask questions about their service and approach.
Case Dismissed prior to trial
Disobeying a Court Order
Case dismissed at preliminary hearing.
One year of county jail/five years' probation
Client found not guilty at trial
Rape of a Child
Case dismissed after 20 hours community service
Identity theft count dismissed at trial