If you are like most California residents, you do not take shoplifting very seriously. In fact, you may view shoplifting as a little adventure with no real victim because “everyone knows” that merchants often overinflate their prices so as to make an exorbitant profit off their customers. Therefore, you really do not harm the merchant much if you walk out of the store without paying for something you “bought.” Thinking this way, however, can land you in serious legal trouble.
Police in California may employ various strategies in order to make you incriminate yourself. The unfortunate fact is that many interactions you may have with police officers would probably begin with their suspicion that you were breaking the law in some way.
As the American Bar Association (ABA) points out, 95 percent of cases are settled first before going to trial, so chances are if you are involved in a criminal case in California, you might receive a proposal to reduce your prison sentence or eliminate it entirely in exchange for a guilty plea to lesser charges. However, even as your defense attorney provides counsel on the matter, remember that the final choice to accept or reject any deal is yours.
If you feel financially pinched during a time of legal trouble, you might feel tempted to eschew legal representation if you end up in a California court in order to save money. However, representing yourself in a criminal or even civil proceeding can be very perilous. You might not even realize that something as simple as jury selection can make or break your case.
When a California judge or jury convicts you of a crime, you may wind up facing repercussions that come from outside the criminal justice system, in addition to fines, jail time and other potential penalties. These repercussions are commonly known as "collateral consequences," and they have the potential to make many areas of your life monumentally more difficult. At the law offices of John M. Kucera, we recognize that collateral consequences can make it hard to hold down a job or pay fines, and we have helped many offenders seek to reduce the damage caused by their criminal records.
The U.S. Constitution spells out important rights that prevent people from incriminating themselves while being charged with a crime. One of those rights is commonly discussed in today’s news stories, and is known as “pleading the fifth.” Understanding how this right works is imperative if you should be arrested by a California police officer and face criminal charges.
California police rarely have the power to arrest you for not producing official identification. However, the situations in which they could detain you are common enough that you might benefit from knowing your rights.
California citizens have constitutional rights as well as state privileges that protect them from unreasonable arrest. How an arrested individual gets out of jail varies widely from one situation to another, and it is sometimes impractical or extremely difficult to arrange an immediate release.
If you are a California resident who has a criminal record, you may find that it affects your life negatively in a variety of ways. Depending on its contents, your criminal record can potentially impact your ability to find housing, secure employment or even vote, among related repercussions. In other words, your California criminal record has the potential to haunt you for life, but it does not necessarily have to do so. John M. Kucera recognizes just how much having a criminal record can impact your day-to-day life, and he has helped many people in similar situations take necessary steps to alleviate the hardship their records cause them.