24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196




When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

Best San Francisco Criminal Lawyers

Crime and Criminal Defense in San Francisco

San Francisco is a major city that sees plenty of crime, even though it’s considered one of America’s safer large cities. But for people facing criminal charges here, having a good lawyer makes a huge difference. I’m going to give an overview of crime, talk about finding a defense attorney, common charges, and how criminal cases work.

Crime Rates in San Francisco

The FBI tracks crime statistics for all major cities, and San Francisco’s numbers show it has less violent crime than many others of its size. But some types of crimes are still very common here.

According to the FBI’s 2021 crime report, San Francisco had 6,183 violent crimes and 32,655 property crimes last year. The violent crime rate of 7.2 for every 1,000 residents is higher than the national average of 4 per 1,000.
One worrying trend is that homicides have been rising the past couple years. There were 56 murders in 2021 compared to 48 in 2020. Assault and robbery make up most of the violent crime. Burglary, theft, and auto theft are the most widespread property crimes.

Drug crimes are also very common, with over 5,000 narcotics arrests just in 2020, per SFPD stats. While crime isn’t nearly as bad as in the 1990s when there were over 100 murders some years, many locals say they don’t feel as safe as they used to. The pandemic, rising inequality, and perceptions of weak enforcement may be contributing factors.

But compared to other big cities, San Francisco remains relatively safe. For example, Chicago had 797 murders in 2021 – over 14 times more than SF! So while crime is definitely an issue here, it’s not necessarily unsafe overall.

Finding the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you get arrested for a crime in San Francisco, having a good lawyer is extremely important, because the stakes are so high. Here are some tips on finding the best attorney for your situation:

Look for plenty of experience – you want someone who specializes in criminal defense and has handled many cases similar to yours. An experienced lawyer understands the courts and prosecutors here.

Consider resources – bigger law firms may have more access to experts and investigators. But a dedicated solo lawyer can also provide top-notch representation.

Personality matters – find a lawyer you’re comfortable with and who will zealously defend you. Good communication and trust are crucial.

Ask about fees – rates vary widely, so get clear written agreements about what’s covered and any payment plans.

Verify credentials – make sure they’re licensed in CA with no disciplinary record.

Read reviews – online reviews and word-of-mouth help gauge reputation and track record. But take negative reviews with a grain of salt.

Most Common Criminal Charges in San Francisco

Some of the most frequently prosecuted crimes in San Francisco courts include:

Drug crimes – despite cannabis legalization, charges for possession, sales, or transportation of illegal drugs like heroin, meth, cocaine, and prescription pills are common. Even minor marijuana offenses sometimes get charged.

Theft/burglary – with issues of homelessness and drug addiction, theft is rampant in SF. Shoplifting, vehicle break-ins, residential burglaries, and more keep police busy. Charges range from misdemeanors to felonies depending on circumstances.

Domestic violence – police are required to make an arrest whenever they respond to a domestic disturbance call and believe abuse occurred. Even if the accuser recants, charges often still get filed and prosecuted.

DUI – driving under the influence charges are pursued aggressively. Even first offenses mean big fines and license suspension. Repeat DUIs or cases involving accidents can mean jail time.

Sex crimes – allegations of rape, assault, molestation and other sex offenses are taken very seriously. Even unproven accusations can ruin lives.

White collar crime – with the tech, healthcare and finance industries here, prosecutors go after financial and cyber crimes like fraud, embezzlement, hacking, and more.

Overview of the Criminal Justice Process

If you do get charged with a crime in San Francisco, here’s a quick rundown of what generally happens:

Arrest – police take suspects believed to have committed a crime into custody. For minor offenses you may get a citation; for serious felonies you’ll await arraignment in jail.

Charging decision – the DA reviews the case and decides what charges, if any, to file. A defense lawyer can argue against filing charges.

Arraignment – your first court hearing where charges are presented and you enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. Bail may be set.

Preliminary hearing – for felonies, a mini-trial determines if enough evidence exists to proceed. Charges can potentially get dismissed at this stage.

Plea bargain – many cases resolve through plea deals negotiated between the defense and DA. Defendants plead guilty in return for reduced charges or lighter sentencing.

Trial – if no plea deal reached, case proceeds to trial before a judge or jury, where the DA must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sentencing – if found guilty, the judge determines penalties and jail/prison time based on sentencing guidelines.

Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer helps get the best outcome at every phase. Don’t go it alone if you’re facing charges – get legal help!

Useful Resources

Schedule Your Consultation Now