Criminal Defense Attorneys

Criminal Defense Attorneys

Law Offices of Tony M. Seyfi, A Professional Law Corporation

Violent Crimes, Sex Crimes, Alcohol and Drug Offenses, White Collar and Theft Crimes, Juvenile Matters

Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Defense

Questions & Answers

For a free consultation, CALL 866-533-3363

  1. How do I know which Attorney will help me more?
  2. What should I know if I just got arrested?
  3. What is the purpose of Bail?
  4. How can one post bail to get out of jail?
  5. Why are some bails set so high?
  6. What does O.R. mean?
  7. What Is An Arraignment?
  8. What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanors and a Felony?
  9. What does it mean to plea bargain and is it recommended?
  10. Should I plea bargain my case or should I go to trial?
  11. What is the difference between a "guilty plea" and a "no contest plea"?
  12. What is a Preliminary Hearing?
  13. What is a Motion?
  14. What is a Jury Trial?
  15. What does sentencing mean?
  16. What does probation mean?
  17. What is Parole?
  18. What are some of the Consequences of a criminal conviction?
  19. How much time do I have to contact the D.M.V. if I am arrested for D.U.I.?
  20. My Breath Test showed I was over the limit. Should I go ahead and plead guilty to D.U.I.?
  21. What happens at the D.M.V hearing?
  22. If stopped on suspicion of D.U.I., is it Mandatory to take Field Sobriety Tests?
  23. What is going to happen to my driver's license if I just got arrested for a first D.U.I.?
  24. What is going to happen to my driver's license if I'm arrested for a 2nd D.U.I.?
  25. If I am under arrest, do I have to answer all of the officer's questions?
  26. Can an officer search my car or my home after an arrest?
  27. Am I entitled to Miranda rights before questioning by officers?
  28. Should I go to court hoping that the officer doesn't show and my case is dismissed?
  29. What are the immigration consequences of my conviction?
  30. If found guilty by the jury, can I appeal my case?
  31. I have a conviction from many years ago. Can I clean this criminal record?
  32. If I can't be present in court, can my attorney show on my behalf?
  33. Could an employer ask me about my criminal arrest?
  34. What is a wobbler criminal offense in California?
  35. How could I dismiss my grand theft felony case in California?
  36. What does wet reckless plea bargain mean in California?
  37. What does violation of probation mean in a felony case in California?
  38. What is the difference between a restraining order and a protective order?
  39. What is an Ignition Interlock Device or IID?
  40. Do I need an attorney to fight a reckless driving ticket in California?
  41. How does an attorney fight a DUI case in Los Angeles?
  42. What does a Motion to Suppress evidence mean in California?
 
How do I know which Attorney will help me more?
Choose an attorney you feel comfortable with. He must be specialized in the field of criminal defense, not one who occasionally accepts criminal matters. Make sure he is caring, spends enough time with you in his initial consultation, is honest and does not give you false hope and does not give you unwarranted promises. Make sure he or she is thoroughly familiar with criminal law and knows the court you are scheduled to appear in. Hiring a good lawyer may be the best investment you make in your life, so do not make low fees your first priority.
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What should I know if I just got arrested?
  • DO NOT plead guilty merely because you think you have no defense.
  • DO NOT consent to any search of your home or vehicle, unless previously ordered by the court.
  • DO NOT speak with your friends or anyone in jail about your case. What you tell them can be used against you later in the court of law.
  • DO NOT represent yourself. The prosecutor on your case will most likely be far more experienced and knowledgeable about criminal law.
  • DO NOT decide to appear in court or sign anything without first consulting with an attorney who specializes in criminal defense.
  • DO NOT try to investigate your own case. This often harms your potential defense. Allow your attorney to do this with the help of an investigator.
  • DO NOT attempt to interview any witnesses on you own. However, identify potential witnesses and present the witness list to your defense attorney.
  • DO NOT talk with any investigating officer or law enforcement personnel at all. Just say you want to remain silent, this is your constitutional right!
  • DO NOT underestimate the defenses that could be presented to court on your behalf by an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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What is the purpose of Bail?
Bail is posted to make sure the defendant is free while his case is pending in court. It is an advantage for the defendant to fight his case while out of jail. Bail is an amount of money paid by the accused to ensure he will come back to court when required to do so. It does not mean that he will be released forever.
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How can one post bail to get out of jail?
A cash bail may be posted with the court in full amount, and it is refunded in entirety to the person posting it at the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. One may also use a Bail Bond Company and pay only 10% of the bail set and use a collateral such as a property title or an auto title to secure the balance of the bond.
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Why are some bails set so high?
If the court believes the defendant is a danger to the community if released or he is likely to flee the jurisdiction, it may set a higher bail. On the other hand, if it appears that the arrested person has strong ties to the community, is employed and owns a property, is a long-time member of many reputable organizations, it may set a lower bail. Most bails are previously set depending on the severity of the alleged crime.
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What does O.R. mean?
O.R. means releasing person in custody based on his Own Recognizance, that is his mere promise that he will come back to court on any date(s) he is ordered to do so. This means the person arrested does not have to post any bail to get out. However, the O.R. status may be removed and bail may be set if the defendant violates the court's order to return to court. Generally, for smaller crimes or traffic offenses a person is not required to post bail. If the defendant is a repeat offender, the court may look at various factors such as strong ties to the community, employment, or property ownership in determining whether he should be released O.R.
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What Is An Arraignment?
That is when the defendant appears in court for the first time and the judge reads the charges against him. The judge inquires whether the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty or no contest. Possible penalties for the crime charged may also be explained to the Defendant.
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What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanors and a Felony?
In California courts, there are two levels or degrees of crimes. A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by up to a maximum of one year in county jail. A felony is punishable by one year or more in state prison. Crimes like petty theft, simple battery and drunk driving are usually misdemeanors. Other examples of a misdemeanor offense are disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct, most domestic violence cases, and some theft cases, such as shoplifting. Felony offense examples are residential burglary, armed robbery, grand theft auto, forcible rape, assault resulting in injury or aggravated assault, child sexual molestation, assault with a deadly weapon, sale of narcotics, manslaughter and murder.
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What does it mean to plea bargain and is it recommended?
The defendant may be advised to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for receiving a lighter sentence or dismissal or reduction of some or all the charges. Plea bargaining may reduce a charge or a sentence. Plea-bargaining is usually recommended by an attorney if it appears that a potentially stiffer sentence may be imposed in the event of conviction. Plea bargaining also helps resolve a matter faster without emotional and mental distress and sometimes with better results.
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Should I plea bargain my case or should I go to trial?
You need to consider various factors before a plea bargain. pleading guilty or no contest to a charge may affect your criminal record and have adverse immigration or naturalization consequences, or may even lead to deportation. However, it is sometimes recommended depending on the totality of the circumstances. It is essential to consult an experienced lawyer who examines all these factors before advising you whether you should plead guilty or no contest.
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What is the difference between a "guilty plea" and a "no contest plea"?
A no contest plea has the same force and effect of a guilty plea, except a no contest plea cannot be used against you in a civil matter relating to the same facts and circumstances as those of the criminal case. So after the conclusion of the criminal matter, you may choose to fight a civil lawsuit if the alleged victim sues you in civil court.
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What is a Preliminary Hearing?
A short court hearing in which the judge determines, based on the evidence presented by prosecutor and/or defense, whether probable cause exists that a felony was committed.
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What is a Motion?
A document filed in court by Prosecutor or Defense asking the judge for a specific order. Common motions are "Motion to Suppress Evidence, Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Speedy Trial, Motion to Continue Trial".
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What is a Jury Trial?
A jury trial is a complex process whereby the prosecution presents his case to 12 members of the jury. Then the defense will have the chance to presents any evidence or witnesses in his defense. The jury then deliberates and renders a verdict as to the innocence or guilt of the accused.
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What does sentencing mean?
It means the process whereby the judge imposes the penalties on a person convicted of a crime. For instance, a defendant may be sentenced to probation, payment of fine, suspension of license, jail, etc.
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What does probation mean?
It means conditional release of a convicted individual for a certain period of time on the condition that he complies with specific orders imposed by the court. As a condition of probation, the defendant may be ordered to do some jail time. In felony matters, upon completion of time in custody, defendant may be released into the community under the supervision of the probation department. So, defendant will be on formal probation and must report to probation office every month and advise them of his place of residence or employment. Defendant must also pay monthly probation fees for supervision costs.

In Misdemeanor cases, in most California courts generally there is no supervision by the probation office. This is referred to summary probation or informal probation. Here, defendant saves time and money since his only obligation is to avoid any new arrests and to comply with the terms of probation. Defendant may be required to do some community service or pay restitution to the victim as a condition of his release on summary probation.

In either a felony or a misdemeanor case, if defendant fails to abide by the court orders and the conditions imposed, he may be in violation of his probation and face jail time.
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What is Parole?
After a defendant has spent some time in state prison, he is conditionally released for certain number of years but may still be under the supervision of Department of Corrections, and may have to submit to periodic meetings with parole offices, drug testing, or search of his home or vehicle.
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What are some of the Consequences of a criminal conviction?
A conviction can have a number of consequences, including loss of right to bear arms, the right to vote, or having to register as a narcotics or sex offender.
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How much time do I have to contact the D.M.V. if I am arrested for D.U.I.?
You or your attorney on your behalf must contact the DMV within Ten (10) days of your arrest to request a hearing and/or an stay on the suspension of your driving privileges.
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My Breath Test showed I was over the limit. Should I go ahead and plead guilty to D.U.I.?
No. Your attorney may obtain the breath machine calibration records and results. Your blood alcohol content may turn out to be below the legal limit or on the border line considering the margin of error and the calibration errors, because the machine used may not have been properly functioning at the time your test was given or analyzed. You may need the services of a forensic toxicologist to show contradict the breath tests.
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What happens at the D.M.V hearing?
A D.M.V. hearing is conducted to determine whether your license should be suspended because you were driving a vehicle with blood alcohol beyond the legal limit. The hearing my be done in person at the Driver's Safety Office with you present, or your attorney may conduct it over the telephone. The DMV hearing officers are not attorneys and will only review limited documents and often are not sympathetic to you. To have an attorney at a DMV hearing is a definite plus.
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If stopped on suspicion of D.U.I., is it Mandatory to take Field Sobriety Tests?
No. field sobriety tests often exaggerate the performance of an individual on these tests. Officers often subjectively determine whether one passed or did not pass a test. It is better not to subject yourself to swayed judgment of the officer. So, you may respectfully decline to take the field sobriety test.
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What is going to happen to my driver's license if I just got arrested for a first D.U.I.?
If you enroll in a D.U.I. program, after a 30-day initial suspension you may obtain a restricted license that allows you to drive to and from work, during the course work, and to and from the Drinking/Driving program during the remaining course of the suspension.
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What is going to happen to my driver's license if I'm arrested for a 2nd D.U.I.?
If this is a second DUI you may not drive at all for a full year. If you are enrolled in an 18-month second offender Drinking/Driving program, the DMV will issue you a restricted license like the one described above only after you have completed one full year of the 18-month program.
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If I am under arrest, do I have to answer all of the officer's questions?
No. Other than your identifying information, you don't have to answer any questions and you don't have to cooperate with the investigating officer. In fact, you have the right to remain silent, and you may say so in a respectful manner to the officer arresting you. Also ask that you would like to have a lawyer present if there is going to be any questioning.
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Can an officer search my car or my home after an arrest?
Not always. Your fourth amendment constitutional rights limit an officer's right to search your car or home after an arrest. As a general rule a warrant is required for such searches. A search without a warrant must be based on probable cause and may be limited to certain scope and areas. A creative defense lawyer may be able to dismiss your case altogether based on illegal searches of your person, your car or your home. This means any evidence, contraband or weapons found based on such illegal search must be thrown out and cannot be used against you.
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Am I entitled to Miranda rights before questioning by officers?
Absolutely. Your Miranda rights are the right to remain silent, the right to a lawyer present while being questioned and the right to an appointed counsel if you cannot afford a private one. The officer must read these rights to you or inform you of them. A creative defense lawyer may be able to dismiss your case altogether based on illegal confessions obtained from you in violation of Miranda.
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Should I go to court hoping that the officer doesn't show and my case is dismissed?
In misdemeanor and felony matters, this is rarely the case. That is because the matter may be postponed until the officer shows up. Also, the prosecution may not be entirely dependent on one single officer. Often times an officer is not even called to the stand. Civilian witnesses are the only ones questioned. So this is different from a traffic ticket. You should really have a defense counsel rather than relying on the officer not showing up.
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What are the immigration consequences of my conviction?
If you are not a legal resident of California or a U.S. citizen, the consequences may be severe. A felony conviction depending on its degree may result in deportation, denial of re-entry into the United States, or exclusion from this country. A misdemeanor conviction has often times less severe consequences. However, repeat offenses of a misdemeanor can result in similar immigration issues. It is important that your criminal defense lawyer work hand in hand with an immigration lawyer to make sure your plea of guilty does not result in immigration complications in the future.
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If found guilty by the jury, can I appeal my case?
Yes. Based on flaws or mistakes in procedure, your defense attorney may request a higher court to review the lower court's decision. This is referred to as an appeal. This must be done once the trial has been completed. An appeal may be based on a judge's improper instructions to the jury, prosecution's improper comments to the jury, jury tampering or improper introduction of evidence. An appeal may be made to an Appellate Court, to California Supreme Court, or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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I have a conviction from many years ago. Can I clean this criminal record?
Yes. Cleaning your criminal record is called expungement. If the court accepts your request, the conviction will be deemed not to have occurred. But note that an expunged record may be open for law enforcement purposes. Also, applicants campaigning for public office or applying for a federal job are required to disclose their conviction even if it was expunged. Also, an expunged conviction may still be used for sentencing purposes if you are convicted of a new crime. Not all types of criminal convictions may be expunged. Finally, as a general rule, convictions cannot be expunged unless you have no new charges pending and unless you have completed your sentence and/or probation.
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If I can't be present in court, can my attorney show on my behalf?
Yes, but there are some limitations. In most misdemeanor cases, courts normally allow your defense counsel with your authority to appear in court on your behalf to conduct preliminary matters. For more important hearings or your trial, it may be necessary for you to be present. In felony matters, defendant is normally required to appear in every hearing. If you cannot appear, you must notify your attorney and state the reason why you cannot be in court. Your absence may be excused for a good cause in simple court appearances.
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Could an employer ask me about my criminal arrest?
California Labor Code section 432.7 provides that employers could not ask those who apply for a job to provide information regarding a criminal arrest or a mere detention which did not result in criminal conviction. So, this rule applies to cases that are not open.

Further, employers may not inquire whether the applicant was ordered by the court to participate in a drug or other diversion program. It is illegal for employers to look into or consider for the purpose of hiring a new employee any evidence of an arrest which did not end in criminal conviction.

Employers may not use indirect methods to find out an old criminal arrest of an applicant and may not consider information provided to them by other sources regarding an arrest which did not end in conviction. Employers, however, do have the right to inquire from an applicant about a “pending” criminal matter and ask why he or she is on bail or is going to court regarding an open criminal matter.

Note that this is different from when an employer asks an applicant about an old or closed matter which did not end in conviction. So, if you have been recently arrested and you are about to go to court or you are going to criminal court, employers could ask you about the arrest and consider that in whether they want to hire you.


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What is a wobbler criminal offense in California?
Some California crimes are categorized or classified as wobblers. Under the same set of facts, the prosecutor could decide to file charges as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the case, defendant’s prior arrests or convictions, and whether the victim suffered any injuries or losses. For instance, assault could be charged as a misdemeanor offense if there are no injuries to the victim. But it may be filed as a felony if it involves great bodily injury to the victim, where it is usually referred to as aggravated assault. Another example is grand theft. Although under California law, stealing in excess of $400 is considered grand theft, the prosecutor may choose to file it as a misdemeanor if the defendant has a clean criminal record.


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How could I dismiss my grand theft felony case in California?
Grand theft without the use of force is an economic crime. So, your criminal defense lawyer has multiple options in trying to dismiss your case altogether. If you are being charged with felony grand theft, your attorney needs to attempt to reduce it to a misdemeanor first. If your lawyer could make an arrangement for his client to make full restitution to the victim, defendant may be allowed to plead to a misdemeanor. Your lawyer could also enter into a plea bargain with the prosecutor whereby you are allowed to withdraw your guilty plea once restitution is paid in full. Your attorney then makes a motion to dismiss the case which may be granted by the judge.


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What does wet reckless plea bargain mean in California?
In California, a criminal defense attorney may plea bargain your DUI case such that the charge is reduced to a lower level than a DUI. The word wet in “wet reckless” means the drunk driving offense involves alcohol. The word reckless refers to the driving manner of the defendant at the time of driving. Although you may not have driven recklessly at the time of driving, if you take a wet reckless plea, you are admitting that you did. This type of plea is sometimes beneficial for the defendant. For instance, you may get a shorter term of probation, a lesser fine, and no jail time. However, wet reckless counts as a DUI prior should you get another DUI within 10 years of your first conviction.


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What does violation of probation mean in a felony case in California?
A violation of formal probation occurs when defendant in a felony matter fails to comply with the terms of his probation or refuses to do the things the judge told him to do. If a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty of a felony offense in California, he may be placed on formal probation. At the time of his sentencing, the judge will read him a long list of things he needs to do. For instance, he needs to report to probation department of that court within 48 hours of his release from custody. The probation department then will require him to report to an assigned officer every month indicating where the defendant lives or works. He will also be required to pay the cost of supervision to the probation department.

There may be numerous other obligations. If defendant doesn't do even one of those things, he could be found in violation of probation. The probation officer assigned to the case, would then write a report or a letter to the judge and would ask the court to issue a warrant for defendant's arrest. The defendant will then be arrested and brought to court. A probation violation hearing will be set where the criminal defense attorney will help the defendant avoid any more jail time by explaining to the judge why defendant didn't do some of the things on his list.
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What is the difference between a restraining order and a protective order?
Restraining orders are sought and issued in civil courts. Restraining orders could be temporary which will last until the judge decides whether he wants to issue a more lasting one. At a hearing on the restraining order, both parties, the petitioner and the respondent will have a chance to make their case. A judge will decide who wins and whether a restraining order should be issued. The judge will then decide the terms and duration of the order. Generally civil restraining orders are valid for 3 years. A copy of the restraining order must be served on the person against whom the order is issued.

Protective orders are issued by a criminal court judge at the request of the prosecutor and the victim of a violent crime. For instance, if defendant is charged with domestic violence or making criminal threats, the judge will ask the defendant to stay away from the victim and have no contacts with her while the case is pending or until such order is modified or changed.
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What is an Ignition Interlock Device or IID?
California has an ignition interlock law for DUI convictions, generally for second or subsequent DUI offenses, which means the offender must install an apparatus the size of a cell phone on the steering wheel of his vehicle. Some courts in Los Angeles require installation of an ignition interlock device even for first DUI convictions under California Penal Code 23152(a) or 23152(b) or 23153. The DMV could also require installation of IID for a violation of Vehicle Code 14601.2 which is driving while your license was suspended because of a DUI.

The IID device detects presence of alcohol in the driver’s blood. Prior to turning the ignition, the driver must blow into the device. If any amount of alcohol over .03 is detected, the vehicle will not start. Criminal courts and the DMV may require installation of IID on all vehicles owned or operated by you from 5 months and for up to four years. If you fail to install the ignition interlock device pursuant to court order, you could be found in violation of your probation. California DMV may also refuse to reinstate your driver’s license or issue a restricted driver’s license unless you first install an IID on your vehicle and show proof of its installation and service.
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Do I need an attorney to fight a reckless driving ticket in California?
Hiring a lawyer for a misdemeanor reckless driving case could help you with reduction of fines. Your attorney could also help you avoid suspension of your driver’s license, since some reckless driving tickets result in temporary suspension of your California driver’s license. The period of suspension depends on your speed and how recklessly you were driving. Your attorney could also push to dismiss the ticket altogether to avoid a conviction showing on your criminal record and DMV record. Your attorney could also help you avoid an increase in your auto insurance premiums due to your reckless driving ticket.
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How does an attorney fight a DUI case in Los Angeles?
If you hire a lawyer specialized in DUI cases in Los Angeles, California, your DUI charge could be dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense or even an infraction. If the case is dismissed, it’s as if it never happened. DUI convictions stay on your record for 10 years under California law. If your attorney reduces the charge to an infraction, you could save thousands of dollars in fines and insurance premiums. The infraction will erase from your DMV record in two years.

Your criminal defense attorney will use his knowledge, expertise and skills to find technical problems with the prosecution’s case. It doesn’t matter that your blood alcohol level was over .08. There are numerous other factors that could make those results questionable and unreliable. Maintenance records and calibration records of the breathalyzer used to test the amount of alcohol in your blood must be ordered and reviewed. If a blood sample was taken, the vile could be requested and a “blood split” test could be performed by an independent forensic lab. These are just some of the things an experienced DUI attorney will do. It is definitely recommended to hire a DUI lawyer if you intend to fight your DUI and get it dismissed.
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What does a Motion to Suppress evidence mean in California?
A motion to suppress is filed by an attorney in a criminal case to ask the judge to take out or exclude evidence the police obtained as a result of an illegal search of your person, your home, or your car. A Motion to suppress could also seek exclusion of confessions or statements made by the arrestee following an illegal detention, arrest, or search.

Under the United States Constitution, you have certain privacy rights. You must be left alone in your home or your car if there is no evidence you are committing a crime. Government officials or the police may not enter your home without permission or a search warrant. If they do and while doing so, they find drugs, guns, stolen items, or anything illegal, they won’t be able to use those items against you in court.

If you are stopped for a traffic violation, it would illegal for the officer to order you out of your car and start searching your vehicle for evidence of crime. He would need proof of illegal activity to search your car, otherwise, anything he finds in the car will be thrown out when you go to court. Of course, if your attorney doesn’t challenge such illegal search by filing a motion to suppress, the evidence could be used against you. Experienced attorneys are able to spot any violation of privacy or constitutional rights by police officers and will be aggressive in winning their motion to suppress, which could ultimately result in dismissal of all charges against you.
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866-533-3363
Law Offices of Tony M. Seyfi,
Criminal Defense Attorney
9777 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 900
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Tel: (213) 252-1000
Tel: (818) 788-2010
E-mail: help@zerojail.com


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