Fighting Felony Charges in Orange County, CAFelony violations are the most serious criminal offenses in California. Examples of felony crimes include murder, robbery, and rape. In addition to fines, a felony conviction could cost you a year to life in jail. If you are convicted of a capital felony offense, you could receive a death sentence.

Under certain circumstances, misdemeanor charges can be bumped up to felony charges. For instance, if you’re accused of stealing property worth less than $950, you’ll be charged with petty theft, a misdemeanor. If you’re accused of stealing property worth more than $950 it’s grand theft, which is a felony offense. You could also be charged with a felony if you used a weapon during the commission of your crime, your crime resulted in serious injury or death, or you were found to be in possession of felony amounts of drugs.

The Felony Case Process in California

A felony case begins with the arrest of a suspect, also known as the defendant. Following the arrest, the defendant is taken to jail. Three things can happen: the defendant can be released without charges being filed; the defendant posts bail/bond or is released on their own recognizance, or the defendant remains in jail.

If charges are filed, the defendant will be arraigned in court. An arraignment is the first time the defendant appears in court. At the arraignment hearing, the judge will tell the defendant:

  • What the charges are,
  • Their constitutional rights, and
  • That the court will appoint a lawyer if they are unable to hire one.

The defendant enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest (Nolo Contendere). A guilty plea means the defendant admits to committing the crime. If the defendant did not commit the offenses they are accused of, they will enter a not guilty plea. A plea of no contest means the defendant does not contest (disagree with) the charges against them. (A no contest plea is the same as a guilty plea, except the conviction cannot be used against the defendant in a civil lawsuit.)

At the end of the hearing, the judge will order the defendant sent back to bail, release them on their own recognizance, or set a bail amount.

The trial will begin no later than 60 days after the arraignment hearing. At the end of the trial, the jury will decide whether the defendant is not guilty and released, or they are guilty and are sentenced. If the defendant does not agree with the outcome, they can appeal the decision to the District Court of Appeals.

Defending Yourself Against Felony Charges in California

If you’re the defendant in a criminal case, it’s important to protect your rights during the legal process. The best way to protect your rights is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your case. Your attorney will be able to examine the state’s evidence as well as the circumstances surrounding your case.

In order to get their conviction, the prosecutor will have to prove that you are guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the charges against you. If they are unable to convince a jury or judge that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, you’ll be released.

Depending on the facts in your case, there may be many defense tactics your attorney may use:

  • Lack of evidence
  • Lack of intent/accident
  • Self-defense
  • Defense of property
  • The defendant had the consent of the victim
  • Mistake of fact/the defendant believed the property belonged to them
  • You were not at the scene of the crime
  • Mistaken identity

There are also procedural defenses. These can include government entrapment, false confessions, prosecutorial misconduct, misconduct, selective prosecution, or denial of a speedy trial.

Jim Tanizaki is an Orange County, CA Criminal Defense Attorney Who Knows How the Prosecution Thinks

If you’ve been accused of a felony crime in Orange County, CA that you didn’t commit, you need the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Jim Tanizaki is a former Orange County DA turned criminal defense attorney. He is familiar with the tactics the state will use to get their conviction, enabling him to craft an effective defense strategy that results in reduced charges or acquittal for his clients.

Contact the law offices of Jim Tanizaki through our website or call us at (714) 655-7633 to schedule a free initial consultation meeting to discuss your case with an Orange County, CA criminal defense attorney.