Riverside Criminal Defense Attorneys

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, you will be treated with dignity and respect at the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz. We try to resolve criminal cases in the best interests of our client. While we try to negotiate with district attorneys, we will not hesitate in taking a case to trial. Prosecutors are not in charge. We are.

Full-Service Criminal Defense For Riverside And The Inland Empire

Our practice of criminal defense includes the following areas:

  • Drug sales and possession — Retaining an experienced defense attorney immediately should be the first step after an arrest for a federal or state drug crime. Immediate representation can minimize the consequences and provide opportunities for rehabilitative treatments instead of jail.
  • Sex crimes — In addition to aggressive prosecution, a lifetime of sex offender registration can result from a conviction of a sex crime. Riverside criminal law defense lawyer Catherine A. Schwartz protects clients’ rights and gets to the facts involving these legally complex and emotionally charged cases.
  • DUI — The severity of a drunk driving conviction ranges from fines and community service to jail time and possible suspension of your driving privileges. At the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz, we attend to every detail in building a strong defense and pursuing a satisfactory outcome.
  • Internet crimes/identity theft — Crimes involving the use of the internet are complex and can be charged at the state or federal level. While the experience of an attorney is vital, respected computer forensic experts are also necessary to conduct a thorough investigation of allegations.
  • Three-strikes cases, including murder — Two or more “serious or violent” felonies on a criminal record could lead to a 25-year to life sentence for a conviction of a third felony. Aggressive representation is important as is an attorney who puts you in the best light to show that you do not deserve a life in prison.
  • Expungements — An expungement allows a withdrawal of a guilty plea or no contest and enter a plea of not guilty. Job applications no longer have to include an admission of being arrested or convicted of a crime. While challenges exist in online public records, an expungement still offers an opportunity at a fresh start.

When Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Whether or not you believe you are at fault for the crime in question, it is always important to hire a criminal defense attorney. Fighting criminal charges is always a difficult situation, from a legal perspective as well as from an emotional standpoint. Worse, attempting to represent yourself against criminal charges is extraordinarily challenging to accomplish, even for a seasoned professional. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney will help to ensure you the best odds of a favorable outcome.

Make sure that you are hiring an attorney as early on in the legal process as possible. You should always work alongside a Riverside criminal law attorney if you are facing criminal charges of any kind. Common charges that can result in a need to hire a criminal defense attorney include assault and battery, financial crimes, theft, alcohol offenses, drug offenses, and homicide or murder.

Assault and Battery Charges

If you do not have a legal background of your own, a criminal defense lawyer is a necessity when you have been accused of assault or battery. If you attempt to defend yourself, it is likely that you will end up facing significant jail time, fines, and the addition of strikes on your criminal record. A strong defense is critical, and is best mounted by a Riverside criminal defense attorney with extensive criminal justice experience. Your criminal defense attorney may effectively employ arguments such as self-defense, defense of property, defense of others, or voluntary consent.

Fraud or Other Financial Crimes

A number of potential accusations can fit under this umbrella category. For example, if you were accused of a crime like credit or debit card fraud, wire fraud, forgery, or insurance fraud, then you will need to hire a lawyer to defend you against a financial crime. Crimes of this nature fit into the “white collar” category. Thus, you will need to seek out a criminal defense attorney who has significant experience defending individuals against white collar crime accusations.

With white collar crimes, it is important that you avoid speaking directly to a criminal investigator before you have the opportunity to consult with your attorney. It is critical that you do not inadvertently incriminate yourself, and without an experienced lawyer, this can be surprisingly easy to do. Whether you believe yourself to be innocent or know you made a mistake and seek to reduce your potential consequences for your crime, speaking with an investigator could result in harsher or unfair penalties.

Theft Charges

Theft is yet another broad category, and can be used to describe several potential crimes. In general, theft refers to taking the property of another person without that person’s approval. In the legal community, however, the term can be used a bit more broadly. Not all theft crimes will involve someone taking the physical property of another person. In fact, in order for the prosecution to successfully prove that you committed theft, they will have to prove each of two elements of theft:

  1. That the property was taken without the authorization of the aggrieved party.
  2. That the party being accused of theft was intending to permanently deprive the other party of the property, meaning they had no intent to ever return the property that was taken.

Individuals can be accused of either petty theft or grand theft. In order to determine the proper designation for your charges, authorities determined the type of property taken and the worth of that property. As you may suspect, grand theft charges are more severe than petty theft charges and typically involve property of a higher monetary value. Whether you face petty theft or grand theft charges, you are not doomed to conviction. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney may help you avoid serious convictions.

Homicide Charges

If you have been accused of homicide, your situation can quickly begin to feel hopeless. However, it is important not to let yourself fall into a defeatist’s mindset, which could dissuade you from hiring a lawyer. The truth is, the situation is rarely hopeless. A criminal defense attorney could be what it takes to help you avoid a lengthy prison sentence.

If you’ve been accused of any degree of homicide or murder, your attorney may be able to disprove willful intent or negligence on your part. However, to avoid inadvertently incriminating yourself further, it is crucial to hire a criminal defense attorney immediately after your homicide arrest.

Alcohol Crimes

Some of the most commonly known alcohol related crimes are driving under the influence (DUI, mentioned above), minor in possession of alcohol, public intoxication, and possession of an open container. If you have been accused of one or more of these alcohol crimes, a criminal defense attorney can aid your case and help you pursue reduced sentencing and fines.

In particular, DUI crimes can result in some incredibly severe penalties. As such, this is not an accusation that you should ever opt to fight alone, especially if you do not have any personal legal experience. While it can be possible to avoid a DUI conviction, the task will be nearly impossible without a lawyer fighting alongside you. An attorney can also help provide you with a clearer understanding of your rights, as well as alcohol-related laws.

It is also possible that an alcohol related conviction (including DUI) could result in the loss of your ability to achieve professional licensure for some lines of work. You could also be prevented from earning a professional license in the future. If you are facing the loss of a professional license after a DUI, approach the concern with your Riverside criminal law attorney.

Drug Charges

Drug convictions can lead to a shocking amount of prison time, and it is not worth the risk to try defending yourself. In addition, the financial and social penalties to a drug conviction are stiff. Having a skilled and experienced attorney at your side is vital to mitigate your risk of prison and the financial burden of a drug charge.

Several possible defenses can be employed during a drugs case. This includes arguing that law enforcement obtained evidence of the crime through illegal or unlawful search and seizure. Your criminal defense attorney may also argue that the drugs or drug paraphernalia that were seized by law enforcement belonged to another person, or that there is missing exculpatory evidence. With the help of a Riverside criminal defense attorney, it may be possible for you to successfully negotiate a plea deal or have the charges dismissed altogether.

What Should I Look For When Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney in Riverside County?

Not all criminal law attorneys are created equal. In order to provide you with the highest probability of a favorable outcome, it is important to choose your attorney carefully.

First, always take an attorney’s experience into account, as well as their record—including how frequently they win and lose cases. Their experience should be as specific to your situation as possible. Even if a lawyer possesses extensive legal experience, they may have little to no criminal defense experience that gives them insight regarding criminal court strategy. For example, if a criminal defense attorney lacks experience fighting DUI charges, they may not have the knowledge and skill necessary to provide the best possible outcome for your DUI case. For that reason, it is critical to choose a defense attorney with extensive experience in a relevant practice area, as they will have a vital familiarity with the criminal defense process.

In addition, make sure you choose a criminal defense attorney with superior communication abilities. Inability or unwillingness to communicate with you is a major red flag when it comes to hiring a potential attorney. If an attorney struggles with clear communication and leaves you with more questions than answers, move on to the next option. A Riverside criminal law attorney must clearly communicate with you throughout the entirety of your case, and communication skills are also key in their interactions with the court. If a lawyer seems standoffish and unwilling to answer questions about their services or pricing, their behavior could be a sign of a major issue ahead.

What is the Difference Between a Civil Lawyer and a Criminal Lawyer?

As indicated, there is a significant distinction between the civil justice system and the criminal justice system. Civil law is a relatively broad category that encompasses a wide variety of potential cases. Lawyers who work in this realm could serve as contract lawyers, property lawyers, family lawyers, personal injury lawyers, or any combination of these specialties. The unifying theme is that civil lawyers handle cases where there is a dispute between two or more parties. In court, the primary goal of a civil case is often compensation for damages. If the defendant is found to have been liable for a negative event, or if it is determined that the defendant was negligent and caused harm to someone else, they must pay damages to the other party. Additionally, the burden of proof is often lower for civil cases than it is in criminal cases.

So, what kinds of crimes does a criminal lawyer focus on? First, it should be noted that criminal law functions a bit differently than civil law in a number of ways. If the actions of the accused party are considered dangerous or harmful to society as a whole, rather than simply toward another party, then the case will fall under the umbrella of criminal law. These are statutory laws, and are legally punishable by the United States government.

Rather than compensation, the objective of criminal law is deterrence and punishment. The standard of proof in these cases in much different from in civil law cases. In order for you to be convicted in criminal court, it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. As such, guilty verdicts are more difficult to reach, and will require more evidence than in civil court. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that those accused of criminal offenses hire a criminal law attorney.

Contact The Law Offices Of Catherine A. Schwartz For A Free Consultation

If you are currently facing criminal charges, it is essential to secure the services of a compassionate, experienced Riverside criminal defense attorney. For more information, contact the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz at 951-686-8190 to schedule a free initial consultation. Our office is located in Riverside, California. We serve clients in the Inland Empire, including San Bernardino. For the convenience of our clients, we accept appointments in the evenings and on weekends and accept all major credit cards.