Frequently Asked Legal Questions
Answered by Our Santa Ana Attorney, Serving Orange County
Clients often have similar concerns and questions – that is why we have created this frequently asked questions page. Periodically, we update the questions and answers to reflect our current clients' top concerns. If you have a question that is not listed below, feel free to submit it to our skilled legal team for review.
If you have found yourself up against the criminal justice system, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect and what happens next. Below, we have answered some common questions about criminal charges, proceedings, convictions, and more.
How much does legal representation cost?
Every case is different, so there is no sure way to determine the exact costs associated with your legal representation. The Law Offices of Sholeh Iravantchi does however, offer payment plans.
We also offer a complimentary consultation. At the end of this consultation, we will gladly discuss the potential fees associated with you case.
Do I really need a lawyer?
The U.S. Constitution guarantees legal representation to those accused of violating the law – even when they cannot afford it. This guarantee is supported by your local public defender's office. While the staff attorneys at the public defender's office are often skilled, reputable, and extremely knowledgeable, they are also overburdened.
As a former public defender, Ms. Iravantchi understands the effects of the vast burden placed on public defenders. Ultimately, she witnessed first-hand how burdensome caseloads weigh down the effectiveness of the public defender's office. For this very reason, Ms. Iravantchi is dedicated to providing first-rate representation at a reasonable price.
What are "Miranda" rights?
Miranda statements must be given by law enforcement to suspects in custody before interviewing them. These important rights are based off the constitutional protections enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.
These rights are as follows:
- Right to remain silent. Anything said will be used against you in court.
- Right to consult an attorney and have one present during questioning.
- Right to have an attorney appointed at no cost if you are indigent.
What is the difference between infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies?
Offenses in California are generally categorized into one of three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Infractions are the most minor of the three categories. Speeding is one example of an infraction offense.
Misdemeanor offenses are more serious. When you are charged with a misdemeanor crime, you face up to one year in county jail and other fines. A misdemeanor conviction can have serious consequences on immigration, educational, and professional licenses. Depending on the type of crime, there are many other circumstances to consider before making any definitive decision.
Felony offenses are the most serious category of crimes in California. By definition, felonies are crimes punishable by imprisonment or death. A felony conviction is life-altering. Just by being convicted you are barred from voting, and you may even have to register as a narcotics or sex offender. In addition, professional licenses, educational scholarships, and immigration consequences are often imminent upon conviction.
Being charged with a crime is serious. There are serious consequences and stakes. If you can't afford to take things lightly, call the Law Offices of Sholeh Iravantchi.
When is law enforcement allowed to search my property or property under my control?
If you consent, law enforcement may search your property or property you control. In other circumstances, such as in an emergency or if a warrant is issued, law enforcement may search your property or enter your residence. Depending on whether the search of your property is lawful, evidence gathered may be excluded by an experienced trial attorney.
My minor son or daughter has been arrested, how do I get him released?
Juvenile proceedings are quite different than criminal matters. The mindset behind this difference is that juvenile proceedings are intended to "rehabilitate" rather than punish. Accordingly, juvenile proceedings are governed by California's Welfare and Institutions Code.
Thus, if your child has been arrested, he/she is considered either "detained" or "non-detained." This status is assigned during the initial arraignment and stays the same unless contested. If your child has been detained, call the Law Offices of Sholeh Iravantchi.
The alleged victim does not want to press charges. Do I still need an attorney?
Yes! Just because the victim has changed his mind does not mean that the prosecutor will agree. Depending on the class of charge, the prosecutor will often re-interview the alleged victims and other parties to ascertain why he or she has changed their mind.
In the case of domestic violence, the reasons may be obvious: retaliation. Thus, just because the victim does not want to press charges does not mean that no charges will be filed. The only real exception to this general rule is sexual assault crimes where an adult chooses not to follow-through with charges of certain sex crimes.
Can my driver's license actually be suspended for refusing a breathalyzer or blood test?
Yes. The California Department of Motor Vehicles requires you cooperate with law enforcement when stopped. This includes chemical tests to determine whether you are intoxicated. Before suspension, the Department of Motor Vehicles must show that the law enforcement officer had "probable cause" to believe you were intoxicated. If probable cause is found, the officer may also search your vehicle.
My loved one has been arrested. How do I get them released?
Being arrested and incarcerated is a life-altering experience. If you or your loved one has been arrested, the first step is to get them released. Often, this is done by paying bail. Thus, the first step is determining the amount of bail. Then, you must post – or pay – this bail.
If the amount is low, you can pay it in full. In these instances, expect to have your money returned upon resolution of the matter pending.
If the bail is too high for you to pay, you have two options. The first is to contact a bail bondsman who will post your bail. Because bail bonds are technically an insurance policy, you should expect to pay a non-refundable fee set by law. This fee is usually 10% of the bond but can be lower. The rest of the bond is backed by you or your loved one's assets. This is to ensure that your loved one shows up to court.
The second option – and seemingly the best – is to contact a skilled and knowledgeable defense attorney such as Sholeh Iravantchi. Ms. Iravantchi has developed strong ties with bail bondsmen and the court in her years of practice. With this reputation, Ms. Iravantchi can fight for you or your loved one's bail to be lowered. Even more, Ms. Iravantchi's ties with local bail bondsmen ensure that whatever time it may be, a bail bondsman will be available for you.
"They" want to talk to me or someone I know. What should I do?
Whether "they" is your local police department, agents of the federal government, or some other form of enforcement agency, you should remember that you have rights. Tell them that you may speak with them, but you want to speak with an attorney first.
There are only a few reasons to be cautious as to why the authorities will request to interview or "talk" with someone. Most of these reasons deal with furthering a criminal investigation. In other words, the authorities are seeking to elicit evidence from you. The problem with a situation like this is that you do not necessarily know who the police are investigating. They could be seeking information to use against you! Furthermore, authorities may lie or mislead you, causing you to admit to something that you may not have known was unlawful.
In sum, it is best to contact a knowledgeable and reputable lawyer before engaging in interviews with the authorities.
The police are requesting access to search my property (car, house, land, computer, phone, etc.) What should I do?
Simply decline and clearly state that you do not consent. This is a very important response to remember. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows freedom from unlawful searches and seizures. By allowing authorities to search your property, you are consenting and waiving your rights.
If the police are asking you for permission, it means they do not have a warrant. To obtain a warrant, the authorities must show evidence that leads to probable cause. Often, you may identify a source of evidence not previously known to authorities. Or, in other cases, new charges may be brought against you for admitting something entirely irrelevant to what the authorities are investigating.
Play it safe, call the Law Offices of Sholeh Iravantchi.
I have been given a ticket and released. What should I do?
When the particular offense is a misdemeanor a or lesser offense, you will often be released on your own recognizance. This is done after you sign a promise to appear in court on a specified date. Lesser offences include shoplifting, petty theft, miniscule drug possession, trespassing, minor's possession of tobacco or alcohol, etc.
You must appear in court at the time and date listed in the ticket or citation. Failing to appear is considered contempt of court and a warrant will be issued for not appearing. If you chose not to hire an attorney, you will be allowed to consult a public defender or cost-free attorney. Because of this attorney's caseload however, he will only be able to speak with you for a minimal amount of time. You may be offered some form of plea agreement in exchange for your guilty plea. While a plea agreement quickly disposes of a case, it may adversely affect your education, professional, and national statuses. This includes loss of professional licenses, scholarships, and residency.
Should you choose to hire the Law Offices of Sholeh Iravantchi, your experience will be much different. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to be present in court. Regardless, in most instances Ms. Iravantchi will request your hearing to be continued or postponed to a later date. During this time, Ms. Iravantchi and her experienced legal team will obtain and review police evidence, witness interviews, and additional evidence. Then, Ms. Iravantchi will review her findings and work actively with you to form an aggressive defense strategy.
The U.S. immigration system is undoubtedly complex. Anyone navigating this system will likely have a lot of questions about their rights and options and the processes they must complete. Below, find answers to frequently asked questions regarding immigration and naturalization law.
Can I petition for my fiancé to get a visa?
In most circumstances, given you are a U.S. citizen, you can petition for or "sponsor" family members such as your children, parents, siblings, and spouse. Additionally, most lawful residents (visa holders) may petition on behalf of a family member. While some conditions apply, such as income and earnings, you may be eligible to sponsor your loved one.
Under what circumstances can an individual enter the U.S. from abroad?
It depends. Under current U.S. immigration and naturalization laws, there are several categories that may be used to immigrate. Included among these are family, employment, asylum, refugee, and the diversity lottery. For instance, you may be admitted for employment reasons, to reunite your family, or to save you from possible danger in a foreign country. Based on the vast choices available, it is likely there is a route to satisfying your immigration needs.
How do I become a U.S. citizen?
To become a U.S. citizen, you must meet several specific conditions. For instance, you must have been a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for a specific period of time in addition to having good moral character. Finally, to nationalize, you must take an oath, complete an interview with a government official, and pass several tests including a government, history, and English literacy test.
I, or my loved one, was served with a Notice to Appear (NTA). What should I do?
It is very important you contact a knowledgeable immigration attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the particular circumstances of your case, an experienced attorney may apply for "Cancellation of Removal" or some other form of relief. Several forms of relief are available to permanent and non-permanent residents – however, it is advised you consult a lawyer who will review the facts and circumstances of your individual case.
I entered the country lawfully, but I have overstayed. What should I do?
Many of our clients have entered the country lawfully but have simply stayed in U.S. too long. These clients have often developed families and strong ties within the U.S. and are frightened by the thought of being deported. Luckily, many are eligible for Adjustment of Status or a new green card.
Glossary of Immigration Law Terms
- "A" Number - An Alien Registration Number assigned by the Department of Homeland Security to each alien. Each number consists of a single A followed by either eight or nine numbers. For instance A32 542 345 or A203 492 293.
- Adjustment of Status - The process or act of applying for legal residency status while within the U.S.
- Affidavit of Support – A document warranting that the signer will support an applicant financially in the U.S.
- Alien – Any foreign national who is not a U.S. citizen.
- Asylum - A form of relief offered to foreigners who have suffered or fear suffering persecution in their home country. Grounds for persecution include religious beliefs, transgender identify, and political beliefs.
- Attorney of Record - An accredited attorney who has filed a G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney) on behalf of an alien.
- Certificate of Citizenship – Document issued by the Department of Homeland Security as proof that an individual was born as a U.S. citizen.
- Certificate of Naturalization – Document issued by the Department of Homeland Security to prove that an individual has naturalized or become a U.S. citizen.
- Common-law marriage – An agreement between two persons to marry without civil or religious proceedings.
- Diversity Visa Program – Program held by the U.S. Department of State where up to 55,000 visas are chosen from countries with low rates of immigration.
- Green Card – A “Permanent Resident Card,” also known as Form I-551, that shows a person is a lawful permanent resident in the U.S.
- Immediate Relative – A spouse, widow, unmarried child, or parent of a child over the age of 21.
- Immigrant Visa – Visa that allows an individual to live indefinitely, or permanently, within the U.S.
- Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) – The main American immigration law governing naturalization and citizenship.
- Lawful/Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) – An individual who has lawfully immigrated and been admitted into the U.S.
- Native – An individual’s status in their home country. For instance, an individual born in Mexico would be a native of Mexico.
- Naturalization – The process of becoming a full-fledged U.S. citizen.
- Notice to Appear (NTA) – Notice served on an alien to inform them of pending immigration matters against them.
- Overstay – The act of staying within the U.S. longer than allotted on the individual’s admission form or stamp. This is a violation of law.
- Permanent Resident - See Lawful Permanent Resident.
- Refugee – An individual with a “well-founded” fear of persecution in his/her home country.
- Spouse – A live-in partner, commonly a wife or fiancé.
- Visa – Authorization to enter the U.S. and reside or transact business.
- Waiver of Ineligibility – The act of applying for a waiver of a circumstance otherwise prohibiting naturalization or residency within the U.S.