Your Life on Hold
Facing criminal charges in Bakersfield, California can leave you with a lot of uncertainty. You don't know what your future will hold. You may be anticipating steep fines, a criminal record, and even incarceration. When faced with these consequences, it's normal to feel overwhelmed. The good news is there are steps you can take to fight your criminal charges. Not all of these strategies will work for you; it's best to have an attorney help you decide what route to take. But the first step is exploring your options, so here are ten criminal defense strategies that could help you clear your name.
Examine the Details
One of the first things you should do after an arrest in Visalia, California is to call an attorney who can obtain information about your case. You should immediately request a copy of the police report. Then, go over it with a fine-tooth comb to ensure everything therein is accurate. If it's not, you may have found your defense.
Many people don't realize there is some room for negotiation when it comes to criminal cases. While you cannot settle your case “out of court” like civil cases, you (or more likely your attorney) might be able to negotiate a plea bargain. Plea bargains are deals between the defendant facing charges and the prosecuting attorney. Typically, the defendant exchanges a guilty plea for a lesser charge. This benefits the court, as it will reduce the backlog of criminal cases awaiting trial. It could also benefit you, as you will typically walk away with a less serious charge or sentence and you save the time and money it would take to try your case.
Go After the Evidence
Defendants have a right to obtain the evidence the prosecutor has in possession. This can include documents like police reports, test results, and witness statements. Have an attorney obtain the evidence in your case and scrutinize it for inconsistencies or weaknesses. In some cases, evidence can reveal elements of your case you can take advantage of to fight your charges.
Need to dispute a fact? Having an expert witness stand provide testimony can help you fight your charges. Expert witnesses can come in handy if you are trying to dispute a fact or disprove allegations.
Were You Misidentified?
Misidentification is a relatively common criminal defense. Witnesses and Visalia police officers can mistakenly identify you as the perpetrator. If you were misidentified, you should work with an attorney who can prove that specific element and get your charges dismissed.
If you've exhausted your other options, consider taking your case to trial. While most cases resolve before trial, this will give you a chance to thoroughly examine evidence and participate in negotiations for plea bargains. The court has a backlog of cases awaiting trial. Sometimes just requesting a trial is enough to motivate the prosecuting attorney to offer you a fair plea bargain.
Scrutinize Eyewitness Testimony
Eyewitnesses can be wrong. Many witnesses who are questioned by Bakersfield police unknowingly provide information that isn't true. As time goes on, their memory can fade. They may have believed they saw something that didn't happen or misidentified you as the perpetrator. Explore this avenue, especially if witness testimony is a key piece of evidence in your case.
Present Your Own Evidence
You have a right to gather and present your own evidence. Typically, this is done in anticipation of trial. But strong evidence can be helpful at any point in your case.
Present a Compelling Argument
If you plan to go to trial, make sure you work closely with an attorney on preparing your argument. If you make it to trial, you will have the chance to tell your side of the story if you wish. And if you are presenting that story, you will want to craft your statement very carefully to ensure you make a good impression on the judge and jury.
Question the Visalia Police Officer
Questioning the arresting officer can sometimes reveal inconsistencies and injustices. You can question the police report if you find any false claims. Your attorney can also file a Pitchess Motion, which is a request for access to the Bakersfield police officer's personnel file. Typically, filing such a motion can be helpful if you are claiming the officer used excessive force or otherwise acted in an unethical way. Personnel files can reveal such things as disciplinary actions for past oversights.
If the district attorney has filed official charges against you, don't let the court convict you without exercising your rights. The above criminal defense strategies are perfectly legal. State and federal constitutions grant criminal defendants many important rights. Those rights help produce fair and just outcomes in the courts. The courts cannot convict you without proving you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high burden of proof. Take advantage of it by always fighting criminal charges.
Are you facing criminal charges? If so, contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for expert counsel. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team can advise you of your options and help you take steps to fight your charges, so that you can clear your name. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, our attorneys in Bakersfield and Visalia will aggressively defend your rights and help you get the outcome you want.