Best Santa Clarita Criminal Lawyers
Santa Clarita Criminal Defense Lawyers – Your Guide to Finding the Best Attorney
Dealing with criminal charges in Santa Clarita can be an incredibly stressful and frightening experience. The consequences of a conviction can haunt you for years to come. Having the right lawyer by your side can make all the difference. This article provides an in-depth look at criminal defense attorneys in the Santa Clarita area and tips for choosing the best one to represent you.
Why You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
Facing the criminal justice system alone can seem overwhelming. Prosecutors have vast resources at their disposal. Without legal counsel, you may inadvertently incriminate yourself or agree to a plea deal that is not in your best interest. An experienced criminal lawyer knows how to navigate the complex legal system and protect your rights. They can advise you on the best legal strategies and work to get charges reduced or dismissed. Having a strong advocate on your side can mean the difference between a fair outcome or a harsh punishment.
Finding Reputable Santa Clarita Criminal Attorneys
Not all lawyers are created equal when it comes to criminal defense. It’s important to do your research to find someone truly skilled in this area of law. Here are some tips:
- Search lawyer directories like Expertise and SuperLawyers to find top-rated local criminal attorneys.
- Check qualifications like years of experience, education, specializations, and bar admissions.
- Read online reviews to gauge a lawyer’s reputation for skills, professionalism, and client outcomes.
- Schedule consultations with a few potential attorneys to get a sense of who you feel most comfortable with.
Focus your search on lawyers with extensive experience handling your type of criminal charges. For example, look for someone with a proven track record with DUI cases or domestic violence charges. Avoid attorneys who overpromise or pressure you to hire them immediately.
Top Santa Clarita Criminal Defense Firms
Here are some of the most well-regarded criminal defense firms in the Santa Clarita area:
Wallin & Klarich
Wallin & Klarich has been serving clients in Santa Clarita for over 30 years. Their attorneys have experience handling all types of criminal charges from DUI to violent felonies. They are known for strong litigation skills and taking an aggressive stance defending clients’ rights. The firm has received awards like Client Distinction Award from Martindale Hubbell.
The Rodriguez Law Group
Led by attorney David G. Rodriguez, this firm provides defense for crimes ranging from drug offenses to sex crimes. Attorney Rodriguez is a graduate of Harvard Law School and takes on complex appellate cases. The firm is known for detailed case preparation and building strong attorney-client relationships.
Hedding Law Firm
Attorney Josh Hedding handles cases across Southern California from his Santa Clarita office. He is a graduate of Southwestern Law School and a member of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. The firm specializes in DUI, domestic violence, and juvenile crimes.
Law Offices of Schwartz & Weinrieb
Located centrally in Santa Clarita (map), partners Mark Schwartz and Craig Weinrieb leverage their combined 50+ years of experience to mount strong criminal defenses. Their areas of expertise include DUI, theft, domestic violence, and drug crimes.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Lawyer
It’s important to thoroughly vet any lawyer you are considering hiring for your criminal case. Here are key questions to ask during initial consultations:
- How many years have you practiced criminal law? Look for at least 5-10 years handling your type of charges.
- What is your track record of case results for charges like mine? Do they have real experience getting positive outcomes?
- What legal strategy do you recommend for fighting my charges? Gauge if they take an aggressive stance.
- Will you be the attorney actually handling my case? Some firms hand off cases to less experienced lawyers.
- What are all the fees and costs involved? Avoid attorneys quoting unrealistically low fees.
Pay attention to how comfortable you feel talking with the lawyer. You need someone you can be open with who will fight tirelessly on your behalf.
Charges a Santa Clarita Criminal Lawyer Can Defend
Skilled criminal defense attorneys can assist with a wide range of criminal charges in Santa Clarita, including:
- DUI – Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A conviction can mean heavy fines, license suspension, and jail time.
- Domestic Violence – Violence or threats against a spouse, partner, or family member. Carries stiff penalties if convicted.
- Drug Crimes – Possession, distribution, transportation, cultivation, or manufacturing of illegal drugs.
- Theft – Shoplifting, grand theft, robbery, burglary, and other theft-related crimes.
- Sex Crimes – Rape, statutory rape, sexual assault, lewd conduct, and other sex offenses.
- Juvenile Crimes – Crimes committed by minors such as drugs, theft, assault, DUI, vandalism.
- White Collar Crimes – Fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, identity theft, and other financial crimes.
An experienced criminal lawyer will thoroughly examine the evidence against you and check for any violations of your rights. They may be able to get evidence suppressed or charges reduced or dismissed through their negotiations with prosecutors.
The Benefits of Hiring a Local Santa Clarita Attorney
It’s always best to hire a criminal lawyer who is based locally in the Santa Clarita area. A local attorney will be familiar with the district attorney’s office, judges, and court system in the jurisdictions where your charges are filed. They will know the tendencies of prosecutors and what arguments are most persuasive. This gives them an advantage when building your defense strategy and negotiating for a favorable outcome. A lawyer not based in the area will lack this insider knowledge.
How a Lawyer Can Defend Your Santa Clarita Criminal Case
A skilled Santa Clarita criminal defense lawyer has many tools at their disposal to build the strongest case possible in your defense. Here are some of the most common tactics they may use:
- Carefully examine the evidence against you and look for illegal searches, faulty breathalyzers, inaccurate eyewitnesses, and other flaws.
- Negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or dismissal of charges altogether.
- Suppress evidence that was obtained illegally in violation of your rights.
- Mount an affirmative defense such as self-defense or mental health issues.
- Hire expert witnesses to rebut the prosecution’s arguments.
- Aggressively cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses to undermine their version of events.
- Present witnesses and evidence that contradict the prosecution’s account.
An attorney who is intimately familiar with Santa Clarita courts and prosecutors will know the most effective strategies for getting charges dropped, reduced, or a case dismissed. This can help you avoid the severe consequences of a conviction on your criminal record.
Common Defenses Against Santa Clarita Criminal Charges
There are a number of defenses that an experienced criminal lawyer may use to fight your charges. Some of the most common include:
- Invalid Search – Evidence was obtained through an illegal search, violating your 4th Amendment rights.
- Entrapment – You were induced by police to commit a crime you otherwise wouldn’t have.
- Misidentification – You were incorrectly identified as the perpetrator of the crime.
- False Accusations – The alleged victim fabricated the story and charges are false.
- Self-Defense – Your actions were legally justifiable self-defense against harm.
- Intoxication – You were too impaired to form the intent necessary to commit the crime.
An attorney experienced with Santa Clarita courts will know how to present these defenses in the strongest light possible to raise doubt about your guilt.
How Much Does a Santa Clarita Criminal Lawyer Cost?
The cost to hire a criminal defense attorney can vary greatly depending on the experience of the lawyer, the complexity of your case, and other factors. On average though, you can expect to pay:
- Consultation: Free – $250
- Retainer Fee: $2,000 – $5,000
- Hourly Rate: $200 – $500+ per hour
More serious felony charges often incur higher fees. However, a skilled lawyer may be able to get the charges significantly reduced or dismissed, saving you exponentially more in the long run.
Can the Lawyer Reduce Jail Time?
One of the biggest benefits of retaining a top Santa Clarita criminal defense attorney is their ability to minimize or avoid jail time. An experienced lawyer intimately familiar with prosecutors and judges in the area will know how to craft the most compelling arguments for reduced sentencing. They may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to lower charges to those that do not carry mandatory jail time. In some cases, they may even be able to get jail time taken off the table completely through a dismissal or plea deal. Investing in a good lawyer on the front end can save you from years behind bars.
Will a Lawyer Reduce or Drop Charges?
Again, an adept criminal defense lawyer knows how to get charges reduced or dropped through negotiations with prosecutors. They can identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and leverage those to cast doubt on your guilt. In cases with little hard evidence against you, an attorney may be able to negotiate dismissal of charges altogether. At a minimum, they can often get felony charges reduced to misdemeanors which carry far less severe penalties. The right legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
Can an Attorney Keep My Record Clean?
One of the worst consequences of a criminal conviction is a permanent black mark on your record that can severely limit future job and other opportunities. An experienced criminal defense lawyer’s top priority is keeping your record clean if at all possible. Through diligent negotiation and litigation, they may be able to get charges dismissed or reduced to lesser offenses that can be expunged from your record later. This allows you to move on with your life unencumbered.
Will I Lose My License if Convicted?
Certain criminal convictions such as DUI will result in suspension or revocation of your driver’s license by the California DMV. An attorney can represent you at DMV hearings and work to keep your license intact. For example, they may be able to negotiate down DUI charges to reckless driving which does not carry a mandatory license suspension. A skilled lawyer can advocate to protect your driving privileges.