Criminal Law FAQ
When should I call an attorney?
If you are detained for questioning or arrested by law enforcement authorities
on suspicion of having committed a crime, politely assert your right to consult
with an attorney before questioning. Important legal rights may be lost
or waived if you fail to request an attorney at the earliest point of the criminal
What is an arraignment?
An arraignment is proceeding in which a defendant makes an initial appearance
in court and is advised of criminal charges he or she is facing. At this
time a plea is usually entered (often "not guilty") and the court
will decide whether the accused is entitled to remain free on bail (if he or
she is already out on bond) or if bail should be increased. The prosecutor
has the burden of showing that the defendant is either a flight risk or a danger
to the community.
If a minor has been arrested, can he or she be tried as an adult?
It depends on the severity of the charge the minor is facing. California's
juvenile justice system is different from the state's adult justice system. The
juvenile system emphasizes treatment and rehabilitation. While most judges
emphasize rehabilitation for the juvenile offender, under certain severe cases,
the court may hold a "fitness hearing" to determine whether the case
will be transferred out of juvenile court so that the juvenile may be tried
as an adult.
What are Miranda warnings?
The Miranda warnings require that an accused be warned that he or
she has a right to remain silent and that any statement made by the accused
can be used as evidence against him or her. The failure to give Miranda
warnings during an interrogation may result in the inadmissibility of any evidence
that results from the interrogation. The warnings do not apply to any
volunteered statements. An accused may waive his or her Miranda rights,
provided the waiver is made voluntarily and knowingly.
What is a white collar crime?
In general, white collar crimes are non-violent offenses, typically involving
cheating, deception, or dishonesty by corporations and business professionals. Although
white collar crimes are generally non-violent in nature, defendants convicted
of such crimes may incur large fines and lengthy terms of imprisonment. White
collar crimes include embezzlement, corporate bribery, RICO charges, anti-trust
violations, insider trading, stock manipulation, and price fixing. In
recent years, due to high-profile cases such as Enron, there has been a movement
toward stricter punishment for white collar crimes because of the enormous
financial and economic impact such crimes have on society.
What is embezzlement?
Embezzlement occurs when a person is entrusted with property and fraudulently
misuses the property for personal benefit. Embezzlement can involve credit
card fraud, falsifying records to hide a theft, and stealing small amounts
or large amounts of money or property over time. In California, embezzlement
by public officials is considered a separate offense because it involves the
misappropriation of public monies.