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"Frequently Asked Questions" provides general legal information and is not to be construed as a substitute for personal legal advice from an attorney. If you or someone close to you has been arrested, you may want to know the basics of criminal defense law in California. Chris Cosca provides answers to many of these common legal questions daily. Please seek legal counsel to help you determine the applicability of any of the information in these resources to your specific situation. Contact our office at (916) 440-1010.

Every case is different. The best "answer" and most effective legal strategy depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding your specific arrest or circumstances.

  1. What sets you apart from other attorneys?
  2. What do I do if I am being investigated?
  3. Do I need a lawyer?
  4. What do I do after I have been contacted by the police?
  5. What do your services cost?
  6. Does your office take all cases?
  7. If the police arrest a friend or relative, may I send a lawyer to the jail to offer help?
  8. What happens after someone is arrested?
  9. How does someone get bailed out? Do I get the bail money returned when the case is over?
  10. My child was under 18 and was arrested? Can I bail him out?
  11. Do I need a criminal defense lawyer if I have been falsely accused?
  12. How can you defend someone that is presumed guilty?
  13. What are you trying to achieve?
  14. Can your firm help me if I am charged with a DUI?

 

  1. What sets you apart from other attorneys?
    My experience and the relationships I've developed throughout my career. I have practically done it all: prosecution, criminal defense and civil litigation. I have successfully handled and taken through trial virtually every kind of case- from DUI to death penalty cases, to a wide variety of civil cases. I have established relationships with judges and other attorneys that can make good things happen for my clients. I take pride in giving my clients 100% and giving each my personal attention. Put simply, if you need it, I can provide the expertise and experience to help.

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  2. What do I do if I am being investigated?
    First, stop and take a deep breath. This is not a good sign. You may not be charged or indicted, but in most cases charges do follow. Do not speak with law enforcement. Do not speak with anyone you think you trust. Law enforcement is not looking out for your interests. You need to contact an experienced attorney with respected and professional relationships with the District Attorney’s Office, the United States Attorney's Office, federal agents and other law enforcement agencies. I can do all of this for you. 

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  3. Do I need a lawyer?
    Yes, in most cases. You will either hire a lawyer or one will be appointed to represent you. You can represent yourself, but that is not advisable. If you’re trying to decide if you need a lawyer, ask yourself: “What’s at stake?” Your liberties? Your finances? If the likely answer is “yes”, you are well advised to hire an attorney. Generally speaking, many cases involve difficult legal and factual issues, which can best be sorted out by an attorney who is trained to handle such matters. Chris Cosca will personally answer your questions so you can make an informed decision about counsel and representation. Further, without an attorney, both the police and the prosecutor may continue to build a case against you without you having someone to defend your rights. This often times has a long-term, irreversible and damaging effect on an individual’s case, especially if the authorities go forward with charges. In most cases a client’s life is turned upside down; they are not well informed enough to handle the rigors of police interrogations and the stresses that prosecutors and investigators create. By securing an attorney early on, it is possible to prevent filings, minimize or reduce charges, divert allegations into an informal resolution, or assist with surrender and arrest if that becomes necessary. Let’s be clear, in most cases law enforcement is not concerned with your well-being and is not looking to protect your interests. This is where I can make a difference.

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  4. What do I do after I have been contacted by the Police?
    If you’re being contacted, the police think you may have information about some “incident.” It may be perfectly innocent; maybe you witnessed a car accident. However, if it’s about something even potentially criminal, you need to contact an experienced lawyer. Do not speak with the police until you consult a lawyer. A good lawyer can advise you on the upsides and downsides of cooperating with law enforcement. (Also, see related responses above.) 

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  5. What do your services cost?
    The cost of your legal counsel and defense varies depending on your unique situation. Each case is different and some require more time and resources than others. Your initial consultation and case evaluation is free. Many of my clients hire me on a flat fee basis; others pay a retainer and are billed on an hourly basis. Although nothing can be guaranteed, with my experience and the professional relationships that I’ve developed in my years of practice, I often get results fast. I am very good at what I do, but I am not cheap.  

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  6. Does your office take all cases?
    No! I do my best to evaluate each case and, in most cases, I know my expertise will help put my client in a better situation. However, sometimes it is obvious that a prospective client has few options and hiring me or anyone else will not make a difference in their outcome. I like to earn money, not steal it… and will advise my clients accordingly. My practice and experience is wide ranging. It is safe to say that no one in Sacramento has my unique background and trial record.  Contact my office and I'll evaluate I will evaluate your particular case. 

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  7. If the police arrest a friend or relative, may I send a lawyer to the jail to offer help?
    Absolutely. While access to those arrested is limited at times, a good lawyer with a good reputation can make it happen. You need a lawyer who understands our Constitutional right to counsel. I take this right seriously.

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  8. What happens after someone is arrested?
    It depends on whether it's a state or federal investigation. In state court or county case, the police officers typically write reports about the crime, obtain witness statements, run a background check of the suspect, and do further investigation as needed before submitting their work to an investigating detective. For example, in a domestic violence case, the detective in the assault unit usually follows up by contacting any eyewitnesses and the alleged victim to confirm whether the statements obtained by the responding officers were accurate and thorough. (Often, this is the most critical time for a defense lawyer to make a dramatic impact in a pre-filing investigation, as the police usually know very little about the person arrested. I can mount an investigation for the defense before evidence is lost.) The police then bring their written investigation to the District Attorney's Office. A prosecutor reviews the documents to determine whether criminal charges - a misdemeanor or a felony - are warranted. The prosecutor has the option of rejecting the case for criminal prosecution, filing a misdemeanor, or filing a felony charge. If charges are filed, the next step in the criminal process is in court, at an arraignment. A defendant has the right to be arraigned on criminal charges within 2 business days of his arrest. During this period of time, a defendant can bail out or stay in custody while the case is reviewed for criminal filing. It is important to have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney at the pre-filing stage- I can help here. In federal court matters, an arrest almost always means charges have already been filed and an arraignment will follow in court.

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  9. How does someone get bailed out? Do I get the bail money returned when the case is over?
    It depends on whether the case is a state or federal matter. In state cases, bail is financial assurance that a defendant will return to court after being released from custody. There are two ways to post bail. First, "cash" bail may be posted with the custodial agency to cover the entire amount of the bail. At the end of the case, if bail is exonerated, the defendant will receive a check for the entire amount posted. Second, a "bond" through a bail company may be posted. A defendant pays about 10% of the entire amount to a bail company, which puts up the entire bail amount through a bond. If bail is exonerated, the 10% is not returned to the defendant because this is the fee paid to the bail company to (like an insurance premium). Although the standard bail fee is 10%, there are certain circumstances where clients can qualify for an 8% premium. I have well-established relationships with bail bond businesses and will gladly assist in this regard. In federal cases, a judge must find conditions exist that will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant and the safety of the community. Such conditions may include a bond secured with real property, an unsecured bond, a third party custodian, cash, travel restrictions, ankle bracelet monitoring and the list goes on. Whether one is detained or granted pre-trial release depends on the nature and circumstances of the offense charged and the history and characteristics of the defendant.

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  10. My child was under 18 and was arrested? Can I bail him out?
    There is no bail in Juvenile Court. The juvenile is either deemed "detained" or "non-detained" during arraignment. He or she remains in the same status until a contested detention hearing or the end of the case. The juvenile process relies on the California Welfare and Institutions Code, rather than the Penal Code, to rehabilitate rather than punish youthful offenders. I have worked with concerned and worried parents in many juvenile cases. I know most of the judges and prosecutors who work at the juvenile courts. If a minor is detained (that is, in custody), you need an attorney with the relationships and experience who knows what to do to secure their release, if possible. I have successfully handled many juvenile matters and, as a result, calmed the nerves of understandably worried parents. 

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  11. Do I need a criminal defense lawyer if I have been falsely accused?
    Many cases are resolved with police just closing their files, because the evidence of a crime is simply insufficient. The court system does not get involved. However, as with many things in life, the world is not perfect and police officers do make mistakes. People have been falsely accused of rape, domestic violence, murder, and even drug possession because officers were either making negligent mistakes in their investigation, intentionally framing suspects, or intentionally lying about probable cause to justify an otherwise unlawful search of a home, car, or even of someone's person. Innocent people have served years in prison only to be released upon DNA testing. We have heard clients say "Hey, I am innocent! I figured I would go explain the events to the police and this would all go away!" Unfortunately they were wrong. At times, police officers are inclined to disbelieve what a suspect tells them, and they may not have the time or motivation to fully investigate a client's story. What happens? The next thing the suspect knows is that he or she is arrested, placed into custody, and does not know how to clear his or her name. I have personal experience in representing innocent clients— these have proven to be some of the most difficult cases. In sum, someone who is completely innocent may be in the greatest need of representation. It is important to get a tough attorney on your side as soon as possible. If you think you are under the suspicions of law enforcement, call me immediately. You have the right to an attorney!  

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  12. How can you defend someone that is presumed guilty?
    While our Constitution states all are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the reality is that many (including jurors) believe those accused are, in fact, guilty of something. This is truly unfortunate. Everyone is entitled to be treated fairly. A person may be guilty of something, but not the charge or charges filed against them. Therefore, you need an attorney who knows the reality of how jurors think and understands the dynamics of getting them to view your case in a favorable way. I have 21+ years of trial experience- I know how to talk to juries and my record speaks for itself. Even if someone admits guilt, I can ensure the consequences are fair and just.

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  13. What are you trying to achieve?
    This is an easy question to answer if you find yourself a defendant in a civil case or charged with a crime. In these cases, your goal is to keep your money out of your adversary’s pocket, or avoid criminal sanctions. In other situations, your objectives may be less clear. Perhaps you're willing to admit some wrongdoing but not everything with which you're accused. If you have suffered an injury, you may want to recover money damages. You may need to seek an injunction against someone. If you aren’t sure about your legal rights, it is worth the time and expense to hire an attorney and advise you on your course of action. In the end, an experienced attorney will likely save you time and money.
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  14. Can your firm help me if I am charged with a DUI?
    Yes! Defending you against a DUI is tricky and very serious business. If you want to fight a DUI charge, you are advised to hire an attorney who specializes in this type of case. I have not only successfully defended DUI charges, I have prosecuted them. Having been on both side of the law, I know what it takes to make and defend a case. A person arrested today for driving under the Influence of alcohol faces complicated criminal proceedings and potentially devastating punishment. The consequences can affect your life for years to come. You are going to want to hire an attorney with experience and expertise in this area. This is where I come in.

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