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San Diego criminal defense lawyers

Updated on June 5th, 2024

San Diego criminal defense attorneys are very important in any criminal issue.

Seriously, hiring one of the best San Diego criminal lawyer near you who is affordable and aggressive is one of the best decisions you can make for your criminal defense case.

The right defense law firm attorney can be the difference between no jail time, minimal jail time, or a long time in prison.

The San Diego Criminal Defense Pros can help you with this.

Our lawyers have year of experience and have gotten great results for different types of criminal cases.

San Diego criminal attorney, law process, free consultation, best affordable payment plans, & more

Getting a free consultation and retaining a great San Diego criminal defense lawyer near you who handles all types of state and federal criminal charges is needed and should be your top priority for your drunk driving offenses, theft offenses, sex offenses, drug offenses, hit and run felony, restraining order, domestic violence, embezzlement, fraud, juvenile crimes, murder, assault, battery case(s), etc.

The Public Policy Institute of California reported that San Diego County in 2016 had over 1000 arrests for misdemeanor offenses and over 4000 for felony offenses.

So when you or someone you know has been arrested, accused of, and/or charged with breaking the law by the county DA, police, and court, it's not time to give up it's time to hire an experienced, aggressive, and one of the best criminal defense attorneys in San Diego near you to properly defend your case.

Making the best choice by hiring the right criminal defense attorneys in the area is really important for a positive outcome of your San Diego case. 

Finding the right attorneys can make a difference in your case.

Contact an English and Spanish-speaking criminal law firm near you whose ultimate goal is to provide you with the best San Diego representation that can get all your charges dismissed or reduced significantly.

Going through criminal charges in any San Diego county city including, San Diego, Escondido, Chula Vista, Vista, Oceanside, , Encinitas, San Marcos, Carlsbad, El Cajon, etc, is frightening and nerve-wracking.

There is so many California criminal law process that it can be daunting for someone who is not a lawyer.

On this page, The San Diego Criminal Defense Pros will give you some information about the process of criminal cases, what to look for in a criminal lawyer, the number to call for a FREE consultation, etc.

Below is some important information about criminal law and defense in the city.

Let's get started.

Misdemeanor & felony process in San Diego

Here is a brief summary of the processes for both misdemeanor and felony cases in San Diego, California.

San Diego criminal laws are based on the California criminal penal codes.

We will be giving the general overview of those laws below, however, when you meet or talk to defense attorneys that you are considering hiring, they can go further into detail on how each process pertains to your unique situation.

A. Misdemeanor cases

Misdemeanor arrests

First, an arrest is made. Often times in a criminal misdemeanor, the Defendant is not taken to jail, but rather given a citation and required to appear at an Arraignment within the next 30 days or so.

If the San Diego police take you to jail, three things can happen

  •  released with no charges filed;
  • posts bail/bond or is released on his or her own recognizance ("O.R.") and is scheduled for arraignment; or
  • remains in the custody and is transported to court for arraignment.
Misdemeanor arraignment
  • Defendant’s first appearance in criminal court is the Arraignment.

The following events occur at a San Diego court Arraignment:

  • informed of the charges against him or her;
  • advised of his or her constitutional rights;
  • cannot afford a criminal defense attorney of his or her own choice, an attorney is appointed by the court;
  • enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
  •  is released on his or her "Own Recognizance," or the court sets bail, and the defendant is remanded/committed to the custody of the Sheriff.
  • Fails to meet the specificity requirement adequately putting the Defendant on notice of the charges filed
  • If the Complaint is filed in the wrong Court and that Court does not have jurisdiction over the Defendant
  • Due to Mis joinder; (4) If the Complaint fails to state a Public Offense
  • If there is a legal excuse or bar to the particular prosecution.
Misdemeanor investigation

After the Arraignment, your San Diego attorney should begin an independent investigation into the alleged offense.

This includes, among other things, visiting the scene of the alleged crime, interviewing witnesses to the alleged crime, interviewing and investigating the accuser, interviewing the family and friends of the charged, and sending any necessary evidence to scientific and/or psychological experts.

The pre-trial hearing or readiness conference

At a San Diego pretrial hearing, there is an exchange of information between the prosecution and the defense known as discovery.

Pretrial motions may also be filed before the start of the trial.

Motions may be made to set aside the complaint, dismiss the case, suppress evidence, etc.

The defendant may at this point change his or her plea to guilty or no contest.

Pretrial motions and motions in limine
Jury trial 

Before a San Diego criminal court case can begin, a jury must be selected.

During the trial, witnesses may testify and evidence will be presented by your attorney and prosecutor.

At the conclusion of the trial, the jury will do their best to decide if a defendant is guilty or not.

If the jury finds someone not to be guilty, he or she is released and cannot be tried again for the same crime.

If you are found guilty, the case will be continued for sentencing, or he or she may be sentenced immediately.

However, a San Diego criminal defense attorney may appeal a conviction to the Appellate Department of the Superior Court.

Court trial

In lieu of a jury trial, the parties may agree to proceed with a court trial, in which the judge hears the evidence and arguments and finds the accused guilty or not guilty.

Most good criminal defense attorneys will try to avoid a San Diego court trial and will try to work out a deal as they are very expensive and things might get worse for you.

B. Felony cases 

San Diego felony crimes are punishable by a sentence to a state prison term of more than one year or death.

Some examples of felonies are murder, possession of dangerous drugs for sale, robbery, and rape.

Felony arrest

It is possible, in felony case in San Diego, that the charges were brought against the accused after a Grand Jury investigation which led to a Grand Jury Indictment.

If this is the case, a warrant will likely be put out for your arrest, and then you will be arraigned after the arrest.

Felony arraignment

A felony arraignment in San Diego, California on the complaint is the defendant's first court appearance.

Bail will be set and the defendant is remanded to custody, or the defendant is released on his or her "Own Recognizance"

Always good to have one of the best affordable attorneys on your side for your felony criminal defense arraignment.

Felony preliminary hearing

If the case was filed by a complaint, then once you are  "held to answer," the prosecutor files a document called the Information. You will subsequently be arraigned on the Information at which time he or she will enter a plea and proceed to trial.

The rest of the process is just like a misdemeanor.

San Diego federal criminal charges 

Federal charges in San Diego are very serious. 

In Federal charges, the government has the resources to prosecute you.

And this is why you need the right San Diego criminal defense lawyer with the resources to fight your case

Crimes that are committed across the state line or involve federal agencies like banks, post offices, federal agents, etc, are handled by the Fed.

Internet criminal offenses like the illegal download of songs or movies are also considered federal crimes.

Here is the list of some more:

  • Securities Fraud
  • Social Security Fraud
  • Health Care Fraud
  • Immigration Fraud
  • Internet Fraud
  • Wire Fraud
  • Accounting Fraud
  • Antitrust
  • Tax
  • Terrorism
  • Computer
  • Conspiracy
  • Corporate
  • Drug
  • Espionage
  • Bank Fraud

Typical San Diego criminal defense attorney practice areas

Criminal attorneys represent those accused of any type of charges, they typically can handle all San Diego criminal defense cases and they are known as practice areas.

So if you are looking for any of the below types of attorneys for criminal defense help click to learn more or call to speak with one.

Ask San Diego criminal defense attorneys these questions

1. Have they been practicing law for a number of years

2. Have they won serious

3. Are they exclusively practicing criminal defense law

4. Do they have San Diego client testimonials and positive reviews from past clients

5. Do they have the resources like an investigator and other support staff that can help in winning your case

6. Are they a member of both the state and local bar

7. Are they respected by their peers and judge, and feared by San Diego prosecutors

8. Have they been disciplined by the state or local bar

9. Do they pick up their phone when you need them

Please do your due diligence before hiring an attorney.

Ask them good questions to make sure that they will fight hard to get you results.

Even though, the best San Diego attorney typically can't guarantee results, hiring the best of the best will increase your chances of getting your charges dropped or reduced significantly.

What the best San Diego criminal attorneys typically offer

Attorneys in the city should pride themselves on client care.

They should strive to treat each other with core values of respect and communication.

A criminal attorney's goal should also be to ensure that each and every one of their client is afforded the right to a defense and to a fair trial.

They should fight hard to uphold the Constitution and to force the Prosecution to meet their burden of proof.

In doing so, they will do whatever is necessary to fight for your freedom, to fight for your innocence, and if necessary, to create a reasonable doubt as to your guilt in your San Diego case.

In addition to some of the basic core values mentioned above, they should fight aggressively for your rights and also  offer:

  • When you call or meet will you be speaking with an experienced legal team?
  •  Consistent availability during your case
  • Have gotten many of their clients' positive results and helped get their cases dismissed
  • Years of combined proven legal experience
  • They will fight your case all over San Diego County court
  • Free Case Evaluation
  • Offer best payment plan options
  • Possible evening & weekend appointments

Asking for the best payment plans & affordable criminal lawyer help

That's right. Some criminal lawyers offer payment plans and affordable criminal defense help.

Just ask for the best affordable payment plans and finance options when you speak with a law firm.


How do criminal lawyers charge their clients?

Most criminal lawyers charge based on retainers. Some offer a flat fee or by the hour.

Best to negotiate with your San Diego law firm.

How long does a criminal case take?

It all depends on so many circumstances, however, a San Diego misdemeanor might take one to six weeks and a felony two months to one year.

Can I recover my fees or sue for malicious prosecution

Yes, but it is hard to win them. You can file a civil lawsuit for malicious persecution. Even though some criminal law offices might handle this you might also want to speak to a personal injury lawyer.

Is it possible to face criminal charges and a personal injury lawsuit simultaneously?

When it comes to the complex world of law, the lines between criminal cases and personal injury claims can sometimes blur.

It’s not uncommon for a single incident to spawn both a criminal trial and a civil lawsuit for damages.

Let's say there was a drunk driving accident in Oceanside, the intoxicated driver might face criminal charges for DUI, while the injured party could file a personal injury claim seeking compensation for their medical bills, pain, and suffering.

For the accused, a criminal conviction could have implications for a subsequent personal injury trial. Evidence of guilt from the criminal case might be leveraged in the civil case, potentially swaying the outcome.

The San Diego Criminal Defense Pros can connect you with lawyers near you for a free consultation!

The California criminal law process is a very complicated process and requires aggressive representation from experienced and one of the best San Diego criminal defense lawyers.

So if you or a loved one is charged with committing any type of crime in San Diego county including East, South or North County, call the number on this website contact page to be connected with criminal attorneys who may be able to help you.

Do not wait, your freedom and life are at stake.

The San Diego Criminal Defense Pros will get you connected with a lawyer at no cost to you.

Get a free no-obligation consultation with criminal lawyers who may be able to help you or a loved one.

San Diego criminal defense attorneys who get their client's results throughout the county courts can make a difference in your criminal case.

Good criminal lawyers typically have good relationships and know how to work with the city and county DA office and judges which will be beneficial to you.

Remember to ask for affordable payment plans during your free consultation.