Obviously, people who face criminal charges have a lot on their plate. For instance, the outcome of a criminal case could have life-altering implications. On top of this, you are probably considering whether you should hire a criminal defense lawyer. Many people decide against obtaining legal representation due to the fear of footing a large legal bill. Others believe that they can handle their own case. However, given the stakes of a criminal case, hiring an attorney has many benefits worth considering. Here are the top five reasons why you should hire a criminal defense lawyer:

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Knows the Legal System

Unfortunately, the legal system is complicated. Therefore, a successful defense in court requires a detailed understanding of the law. Also, it requires knowing how to use the law to your advantage.

At the same time, the actual court proceedings are often technical. Thus, representing yourself in court is a tougher challenge than you might expect. Luckily, criminal defense lawyers have gone through extensive schooling to understand the legal system. Further, an experienced attorney will have many years of practice under his or her belt.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Has Handled Cases Similar to Your Own

While knowledge of the law is a plus, a criminal defense lawyer with courtroom experience is even more beneficial. For instance, when an attorney handles a certain type of case, they learn how to best handle that case moving forward. This includes knowing what evidence to look for and present in court.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Fight to Get Your Charges Reduced or Case Dismissed Entirely

While this is the goal for all defendants facing criminal charges, many do not know how to best achieve it. Moreover, they may believe that the evidence against them is too strong to successfully fight their charges. However, a trained attorney will know each step involved in a criminal proceeding. Often, a subtle legal maneuver is all it takes to get a case dismissed or a charge reduced. Therefore, it is in your best interest to consider hiring a criminal defense lawyer.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Knows When to Negotiate a Deal or Plea Bargain

Along with fighting to get your charges reduced, a criminal defense lawyer knows when to negotiate a deal or plea bargain. For many people, this could mean the difference between extensive jail time and fines and satisfying the minimum penalties. Also, it is important to remember that even if you receive a guilty verdict, this does not necessarily mean that your penalties are set in stone. Thus, an Alameda County criminal defense attorney can provide you with tangible benefits.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Potentially Save You Money

While you may be concerned about paying for an attorney, facing criminal charges could mean potential jail or prison time and hefty fines. Also, spending time in jail or prison means lost wages and potentially a lost job as well. As such, hiring a criminal defense attorney could help you dodge many of these financially-draining outcomes.

Speak With an Experienced Oakland Criminal Defense Attorney

As a former Alameda County Deputy District Attorney, Louis J. Goodman knows his way around the legal system. He has represented clients in the criminal courts for more than 30 years. This includes clients facing misdemeanor and felony charges in a wide range of criminal cases. If you would like to learn more about what he can do for you, then leave a message or give the office a call at (510) 582-9090.

Last month’s blog discussed how marijuana legalization could change DUI stops in California. Field sobriety tests are a method law enforcement may use to determine if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. More can be said about the standardized field sobriety test (SFST) and its weaknesses.

Three consecutive tests, which are sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), make up the SFST. These three tests are as follows:

  1. Horizontal gaze nystagmus. For this test, a police officer requires you to follow an object with your eyes. An officer is looking for two things: an inability to follow the object and eyeball jerking (nystagmus).
  2. Walk and turn. With this test, officers require to you to take nine paces (heel-to-toe) in a straight line in one direction, and then in the other. A police officer is looking for trouble with balance or an inability to walk in a straight line.
  3. One-leg stand. This test is what it sounds like. You must raise one foot six-inches off the ground for thirty seconds. An officer is looking for trouble balancing.

There are also non-standardized field sobriety tests. You may have heard of these before. Non-standardized tests include reciting the alphabet or touching your finger to your nose.

Can I Fail a Field Sobriety Test While Sober?

You could fail a field sobriety test if you are sober. Certain medical conditions, such as a panic disorder or a bad back, could make it impossible to complete a field sobriety test. Your clothing, the weather and certain medications could also hurt your performance.

Also keep in mind, police cruiser dashboard cameras will record your attempt to pass field sobriety tests. This evidence may be used against you by the prosecution. These are all risks you should keep in mind before agreeing to take a field sobriety test. If you are arrested, then your decision to take the test could make it more difficult to defend yourself from a DUI charge. You can refuse to submit to the field sobriety tests described in this blog.

You should speak to a criminal defense lawyer if you were arrested for a DUI, regardless of whether you took a field sobriety test. If you or a family member were arrested for a DUI, then Hayward criminal defense lawyer Louis J. Goodman could discuss your situation at no cost during a consultation. You can reach Louis J. Goodman by calling (510) 582-9090 or by using our online contact form.

Every domestic dispute case is unique. Therefore, the consequences of a domestic violence offense depend upon a variety of factors. Many offenses could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, which would result in different penalties. Determination is based on the circumstances of the situation, whether any injuries occurred, the seriousness of incurred injuries and the defendant’s prior offenses.

When law enforcement is called for a domestic dispute, under California law, they must arrest someone if they find probable cause that an altercation has occurred. There are multiple forms of domestic violence offenses a defendant could be charged with, including domestic battery, stalking or harassment. Depending on the charge, a conviction could result in these penalties:

  • Fines
  • Time in jail
  • Completion of a domestic abuse treatment program
  • Community service
  • Payments to a domestic violence program
  • Restitution payments to the alleged victim

A domestic violence charge could also negatively affect your everyday way of life in other ways. Other implications include:

Your right to own a weapon. Current law requires a convicted defendant to surrender their weapons for up to 10 years. However, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law in 2019 that will keep certain defendants from ever possessing a firearm. According to the law, certain domestic violence misdemeanors could result in losing your right to own or possess a weapon forever.

Loss of child custody rights. California considers domestic violence charges when granting child custody. In most cases, a defendant convicted of domestic violence will lose sole or joint custody rights and receive visitation rights only. However, because the court takes into account the best interest of the child, if custody to the other party is a worse option, the court may allow the defendant to keep custody rights.

Sex offender registration. Some stalking charges could result in the defendant being required to register as a sex offender. Being registered as a sex offender would cause serious limitations on your life including limitations on where you work and live.

Employment. A domestic violence charge could seriously affect your employment. If you work in a public service industry such as teaching or nursing, you could lose your job. Military professionals could lose their right to possess a weapon too. California state law affects military personnel and law enforcement officers. If applying for jobs, your conviction could come up during an employment background check and make it more difficult for you to get a job.

Need an Alameda County Domestic Violence Defense Attorney?

The Law Office of Louis J. Goodman understands the serious consequences a domestic violence allegation can have on your life. If you have been arrested for domestic violence in Alameda County, I recommend that you remain silent and contact a domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible. California’s domestic violence laws are complicated. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights under the law as well as how the law could affect your case.

Having an experienced attorney on your side could help you negotiate a more favorable outcome. For example, if your domestic violence offense is being charged as a felony, a defense attorney could help reduce your charge to a misdemeanor. Call (510) 582-9090 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Being pulled over by the police can be a scary experience. Recent news stories do not help how the public perceives traffic stops. For instance, there was that one recent story in New Jersey where police pulled over a young man and performed a cavity search for marijuana. Most traffic stops are not this eventful. However, there are certain mistakes you should avoid during a traffic stop. Some mistakes during a traffic stop could result in severe consequences.

  1. Stepping out of the vehicle. Some traffic stop mistakes could put your life in danger. Stepping out of your vehicle is one of those mistakes. Police may believe you are trying to harm them if you exit your vehicle. You should stay in your vehicle and keep your hands on the steering wheel.
  2. Being argumentative or talkative. As difficult as it might be, try to remain calm and polite. If you are argumentative or disrespectful, then it could escalate the traffic stop into an even more uncomfortable situation. You should never try to explain yourself or engage in a conversation about why you are being pulled over. Let the officer do the talking.
  3. Performing the standardized field sobriety test. If officers suspect you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may ask you to submit to the standardized field sobriety test (SFST). The SFST is a combination of three tests that you could still fail even if you are sober. These tests are also recorded by police dashboard cameras. If you fail, it will be on tape and possibly used against you by the prosecution.
  4. Submitting to a search. Police can search your vehicle if they have probable cause or a warrant. There are also other limited circumstances where they can conduct a search. Submitting to search could prove to be a very big mistake.
  5. Running away or resisting arrest. Running from the police at a traffic stop could prove to be a life-ending or life-ruining mistake. You could be looking at felony charges. The same could be true if you resist arrest.

What If I’m Arrested?

If you are arrested during a traffic stop, then it is important to remain silent and ask for an attorney. The prosecution may use whatever you say to the police against you if you are facing criminal charges.

Louis J. Goodman is a Bay Area criminal defense attorney with decades of experience. If you were arrested and charged with a crime, then Louis J. Goodman could explain your rights and possible defense options. You may call our law office for a free consultation. Call (510) 582-9090 or use our online case review form.

Defending yourself against domestic violence charges can be difficult. However, you do have certain rights and options that may help you throughout the process. First and foremost, you should get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney for assistance in building your case.

After that, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the following actions:

Understanding the Definition of Domestic Violence

Under state law, domestic violence is defined as harming, or threatening to harm, an intimate partner. Common charges include domestic battery and inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner.

For purposes of criminal law, an intimate partner may include a current or former spouse, a current or former domestic partner, a current or former fiance, a person with whom you have a child, or a current or former significant other.

Consequences of a conviction may include jail time, participation in an intervention program, payment of fines, loss of custody rights, a permanent criminal record, and loss of gun rights. You may also face a restraining order.

Building a Defense

Common defenses used against domestic violence charges include:

  • Claiming you did not commit the crime at all
  • Claiming your former spouse or partner fabricated the story
  • Claiming it was an accident, and therefore unintentional
  • Claiming you were defending yourself or your children
  • Claiming the incident cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Claiming the incident took place because of your partner’s violent behavior
  • Claiming the police made errors during their investigation and/or arrest

As soon as you hire an attorney, the police report of the incident will be carefully combed through for details. Is there a recorded call to emergency services that supports the victim’s story? Were there witnesses? What was your emotional state during the incident? Do you have a history of violence? Does your home show the signs of a physical struggle?

Your chosen defense will help your attorney determine where to look for possible evidence that backs up your claim.

Asking for a Continuance

Because a hearing in a domestic violence case typically takes place within ten days of the complaint, you may choose to ask the court to “continue” the hearing — giving you additional time to build your case.

Conducting Discovery

During any criminal case, you have the right to ask for certain documents to build your defense, including copies of medical records regarding the injuries the victim claims to have suffered, a list of witnesses the victim intends to bring to the stand during trial, and copies of all evidence the victim will use in court.

You can also find evidence for yourself, including details from the police report, information from third-party witnesses that are not being used by the victim, or additional photographs and tape recordings you have in your possession.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney for Representation

Have you found yourself in a situation where you are defending yourself against domestic violence charges? An experienced Alameda County criminal defense attorney can help you understand and fight for your rights. Contact our team at The Law Office of Louis J. Goodman by calling (510) 582-9090.

Additional Reading:

While murder and manslaughter are different charges, some people may not understand what exactly makes them different from one another. In addition, murder charges are usually defined as first or second-degree depending on the severity of the crime. Manslaughter, on the other hand, can be voluntary or involuntary. The main difference between these two charges will be dependent on the state of mind of the person when they committed the violent action.

Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person that does not involve the intent to seriously harm or kill. Further, it usually involves less moral blame than murder. There are two types of manslaughter you could potentially be charged with will be either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter, also called a heat of passion crime, happens when a person is strongly provoked and kills someone in the heat of passion because they were provoked. Heat of passion exists only if the provoked party does not have time to cool off. Due to this emotional context, moral blameworthiness is reduced for people who kill in the heat of passion. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, is the unintentional killing of another person due to criminally negligent or reckless behavior. This can be confused with second-degree murder, since extremely reckless behavior that leads to the death of another can be charged as second-degree murder.

First and Second-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the unlawful killing of another person with the intent to seriously harm or kill. First-degree murder is also planned and committed in a cruel way under special circumstances. Other offenses that can also be included in this charge:

  • Kidnapping
  • Hijacking
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Torture

Second-degree murder occurs when criminal negligence leads to the unlawful death of another person. It is also defined as a premeditated murder committed without special circumstances. Second-degree murder is slightly less grave than first-degree murder. Second-degree murder can also be similar to involuntary manslaughter and the extremity of the criminal negligence or reckless behavior may decide which charge will be given.

If you’re facing criminal charges for murder, contact an attorney as soon as you can. The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman have years of experienced handling murder and manslaughter cases. Call us to schedule a free consultation today.

Most drivers in California have never been stopped for a DUI, which means that many do not know how to properly interact with the police and protect their legal rights.

However, you could find yourself in a situation where you are stopped by an officer after having a few drinks with your friends. Although you may have done nothing wrong, how you handle the situation could determine whether or not you are arrested and charged with a DUI.

Here are some examples of what to do after getting stopped for a DUI in Alameda County:

Remain Polite

Getting pulled over for a DUI is a scary experience. In these situations, your natural tendency may be to become overly aggressive with an officer. However, it is highly recommended that you remain calm and speak respectfully to any law enforcement official.

You should also calmly comply with any legal requests that the officer makes. This includes providing him or her with your license and vehicle registration, as well as stepping out of your vehicle in a non-threatening manner. You do not have to take a standardized field sobriety test.

Do Not Answer Any Unnecessary Questions

All you are legally required to do during a stop is provide the officer with your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. If you are asked anything else by an officer, then you have the right to remain silent and request an attorney.

It is important to recognize that officers are not neutral and are looking for probable cause to make an arrest. Their questions are designed to get you to admit to drinking. They want you to provide them with evidence that can be used in court.

Never Submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Device Test

Unless you are on probation or underage, then you do not have to submit to a PAS device test. Officers will ask you to submit to this test in the hopes of establishing probable cause for a lawful arrest. They are also looking to collect evidence to use against you at trial.

The only reason to submit to a PAS device test would be if you have had nothing to drink. If this is the case, then the evidence compiled will work in your favor if an officer makes an illegal arrest. However, you should keep in mind that even if you are sober, there are factors that could erroneously trigger a PAS device. Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, can trigger the device to produce an inaccurate reading.

Refuse Any Request for a Field Sobriety Test

A field sobriety test is a physical test that an officer will use to determine if you are intoxicated. This includes things like following an object with your eyes and walking in a straight line.

While these tests are supposed to be administered objectively, any officer committing to a DUI investigation already thinks that you are intoxicated. He or she is looking for the slightest evidence that will allow them to make an arrest. You should always refuse a field sobriety test and ask for legal representation as soon as possible.

Stopped for a DUI? Contact an Alameda County DUI Attorney Today for Assistance

You can schedule a consultation with an attorney at the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman to learn more about how California DUI laws may apply to your situation. If you were stopped for a DUI in Alameda County, then we encourage you to call us at (510)582-9090 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation.

Facing criminal charges is no laughing matter. Both your personal and professional reputations are at stake. It is important that you obtain legal representation as quickly as possible. However, it is possible to make your situation worse by choosing the wrong attorney. Luckily, there are questions you can ask a Dublin criminal defense attorney during your initial consultation to help you make an informed decision. These questions include:

  • What are the fees and costs for your legal services? During an initial consultation, an attorney should be upfront about the costs for his or her legal services. You should also have a conversation about the amount of defense investigation that needs to be done to prepare for trial. These services cost money, and it is important to discuss this before making a decision.
  • Do you have experience defending clients whose cases were similar to mine? A Dublin criminal attorney should be willing to provide you with references and openly discuss his or her legal experience. Having experience working within the criminal justice system means that an attorney is in a better position to advocate on your behalf.
  • What are my legal options? At the end of your initial consultation, an attorney should have a preliminary evaluation of the case against you. He or she should have a general idea of the legal strategies they would use to defend you at trial. If a criminal defense lawyer is unwilling to discuss your legal options, then you should consider looking elsewhere.
  • Are there any actions I can take to help my legal situation? Often times, there are steps you can take to improve your chances for legal success. An attorney should have a list of information or records that you can provide to help him or her craft your legal defense. You should also ask about enrolling in classes, counseling or programs that could help lessen your sentence.
  • Why are you the right attorney to handle my case? Every criminal defense attorney in Dublin, CA should have an elevator pitch explaining why you should retain his or her legal services. If the response you receive is not persuasive or lacks specificity, then you should continue your search for legal representation.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With a Dublin Criminal Defense Attorney

When facing a criminal charge, you need experienced legal counsel. Dublin criminal defense attorney Louis Goodman has spent over 30 years defending individuals from varying degrees of criminal charges. As a former Alameda County Deputy District Attorney, he knows what tactics prosecutors will use to increase the likelihood of a conviction.

If you have been arrested or are under investigation, then contact the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman today at (510)582-9090 and schedule a free initial consultation. You can also contact our criminal defense law firm online and tell us more about your case.

Many people are aware that getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol is illegal. But you may have taken on the responsibility of being a designated driver and are taking a friend home as a passenger in your vehicle. If your passenger is drinking an alcoholic beverage while you are driving, you may be fined under the Open Container Law.

California’s Open Container Law prohibits the consumption of alcohol in public areas. Public areas are defined by state laws and mandates. This may possibly include the following areas:

  • A public sidewalk
  • In your parked car
  • Front steps or common entryway of an apartment complex
  • In a residential neighborhood
  • In a parking lot

This law is in place in most states and is reproduced from the federal standards outlined in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which was passed by Congress in 1998. This law was created to reduce drunk and disorderly behavior in public spaces and to prevent motor vehicle accidents due to drunk driving.

A driver will be in violation of California’s Open Container Law if the drink is within reaching distance, such as in your cup holder. If you are pulled over while a passenger in your car is drinking, a law enforcement officer can give both you and your passenger a citation for an open container.

Questions About A DUI Case?

If you have questions about your options and legal rights after a DUI arrest, you should contact an attorney. Hayward DUI lawyer Louis J. Goodman has decades of experience practicing criminal defense law. Call (510) 582-9090 or fill out our online form today.

Under California law, you could be served with a restraining order for a multitude of reasons. A domestic violence restraining order is used when there has been alleged abuse from a spouse, former spouse or someone the plaintiff is dating or used to date. It can also be used when there has been alleged abuse against a close family member, cohabitant, co-parent or child.

Abuse does not necessarily mean physical abuse. Though abuse does include acts or attempted acts of physical or sexual harm, verbal harassment and intimidation are also considered forms of abuse.

If you have a restraining order against you, it could affect many of your rights:

Your right to contact. Generally, a restraining order protects the plaintiff from any contact with the defendant. This means you may not contact the plaintiff through text, phone call, e-mail, by mail or in person. In addition, you may not come near or contact anyone who lives with the plaintiff.

Your right to see your children. In addition to restricting contact with the plaintiff, a restraining order could affect your ability to see your children. The court could grant child custody rights to the plaintiff. However, depending on the court order, you could be granted child visitation rights.

Your right to live on your property. A restraining order could order you to leave your apartment or house if you are currently living with the plaintiff. It does not matter if the property is in your name.

Your right to go where you please. In addition to staying away from the plaintiff’s home and workplace, you may also be required to stay away from your child’s school and homes of the plaintiff’s family members. Also, if you come across the plaintiff in public, you should leave the area or you could be arrested.

Your right to possess or own a firearm. When a restraining order has been filed against you, you must turn in all of your firearms to local authorities or have them stored with a licensed firearm dealer. You must file proof of completion within 48 hours of receiving the court order.

How an Alameda County Restraining Order Attorney Could Help You

If you have been served a restraining order, you should contact an experienced, restraining order attorney before your court hearing. In California, a restraining order can last up to five years. If you fail to come to your court hearing, you forfeit your right to stand up for yourself.

At the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman, we could help you file a legal response to the restraining order against you, defend your rights in court and fight for a fair outcome. If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities under California law, we could answer your questions. Contact our office at (510) 582-9090 or fill out our online form to schedule a free initial consultation.