Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I hire the Law Office of Jessica Agnich?

You should look for an attorney who is experienced in criminal law, who will work hard on your case, and who is not afraid to go to fight for your rights and freedom. Jessica Agnich is an experienced attorney who has represented over a thousand men, women, and juveniles charged with criminal offenses in California. Jessica is also a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

Jessica has a reputation in the criminal defense community as being a dedicated defender who works extremely hard for the rights of her clients. Jessica is a skilled trial attorney with a proven track record of success in jury trial, and she always brings determination and compassion to the representation of her clients. Learn more about Jessica.

What does it mean to be a Criminal Law Specialist certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization?

The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization certifies attorneys as specialists who have achieved distinction in a specialized legal field. In California, less than 500 of the over 250,000 licensed attorneys are certified Specialists in Criminal Law.

Legal specialization requires that the applicant pass a written examination held by the State Bar of California every two years. If the applicant passes the examination, they must then submit an application attesting to their legal experience in the specialized practice area. Evaluations are then sent to attorneys and judges in the applicant’s jurisdiction, and the evaluations are reviewed prior to awarding the certification.

Criminal Specialists must also attend and submit proof of regular continuing legal education and trainings relating to criminal law such as evidence, trial advocacy, substantive criminal law and procedure, and other subjects related specifically to criminal law.

If you are charged with a crime, you want an attorney who specializes in criminal law and procedure. Jessica Agnich is one of a handful of attorneys in the bay area who has been certified as a Specialist in Criminal Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Read more about Jessica here .

How will I be billed if I hire the Law Office of Jessica Agnich?

For most criminal cases the Law Office of Jessica Agnich charges a "flat fee," as opposed to an hourly rate. The flat fee may include legal services for the entire case, or it could just be for a "stage" of the criminal case, such as legal services through the preliminary hearing. The fee depends upon the seriousness of the offense, and the amount of work the case will involve. This can be determined through a consultation with Jessica. Your legal consultation is free, whether you hire her or not. Request a free consultation.

You may be responsible for expenses relating to your case as well, depending on the individual case. Expenses vary but may include investigator's fees, expert witness fees or transcription fees. Normally the defendant is responsible for these fees, but no decisions about additional fees will be made without prior discussion and approval.

Attorneys are barred by ethical rules from accepting a criminal case on a contingency fee basis. In other words, a criminal defense lawyer cannot make an agreement only to charge a client in the event of a favorable outcome.

What if I decide not to hire an attorney after meeting with the Law Office of Jessica Agnich?

The initial consultation with Jessica Agnich is free. If you choose not to hire her, you will not be charged any fees. If you decide to hire her, you will then be asked to sign a fee agreement and make payment prior to the first court appearance in your case.

Any statements made during the consultation are confidential, and the attorney-client privilege applies even if you decide not to hire Jessica after your consultation. Request a free consultation.

I have been contacted or investigated by the police, but no charges have been filed. Should I hire an attorney?

Yes.

Representation prior to the filing of formal criminal charges can be absolutely essential. It is important to have an attorney at this critical time, because your actions can have later consequences on your case. "Pre-filing" representation can also provide peace of mind and get you answers to your urgent questions about the criminal justice process.

Even if you are hoping to get the services of a court-appointed attorney, your right to legal representation doesn’t begin until after your first court date. This can leave someone suspected of a crime without an avenue to ask legal questions or get advice about what to do during the criminal investigation.

The Law Office of Jessica Agnich offers these invaluable pre-filing legal services. Benefits of hiring an attorney before charges have been filed include:

  • Arranging bail payment
  • Giving legal advice during police questioning
  • Contacting law enforcement agents on your behalf
  • Ensuring preservation of important exculpatory evidence (surveillance videos, witness statements, etc.) that may no longer be available by the time charges have been filed
  • Contacting the District Attorney to potentially dissuade them from filing charges or explain why lesser charges would be more appropriate
  • Handling media requests
  • Answering questions about what will happen at your first court date, and your other pressing questions related to the criminal justice process

My offense is minor. Do I need a lawyer? Why can't I just handle this on my own?

You should always consult an attorney when you are charged with any offense. Even offenses that seem relatively minor can have serious long term consequences. For example, many types of convictions can affect your employment, your driver's license, your gun rights, and your immigration status. Criminal cases can have an impact on your eligibility for certain schools, federally-subsidized student loans, and specific types of employment in the future. It is always in your best interest to hire an attorney if you are facing criminal charges. An attorney may be able to successfully fight the charges or reduce the consequences of the offense.

I'm guilty. I have no defense. I just want to plead guilty and get this over with. Should I even bother getting a lawyer?

Yes.

Even if you are guilty and have no legal defense, a skilled lawyer may be able to present mitigating factors to the judge or prosecutor and get a more favorable sentence or plea agreement. For example, your lawyer may convince the judge to give you probation or house arrest instead of jail time, or convince the prosecutor to drop or reduce some of your charges. Also, there are some cases where a defendant is factually guilty, but the police violated the defendant's constitutional rights. In some cases, an attorney may be able to get the charges dismissed if the police violated a suspect's constitutional rights. If you are charged with any type of offense, you should consult an attorney to see what an attorney can do for you in your criminal case.

The police didn't do a thorough investigation in my case or talk to all of my witnesses. What can I do?

Investigation is an important aspect of almost every criminal case. In most cases, witnesses need to be identified, located, and interviewed. Often, security videos need to be preserved before they get erased or destroyed. Sometimes evidence needs to be examined for fingerprints, DNA, and other characteristics relevant to your defense as well. The Law Office of Jessica Agnich works with qualified and experienced investigators who work to uncover evidence that may help us win or favorably resolve your case. However, you must contact an attorney as soon as possible to be sure that all favorable evidence is preserved and obtained for your defense.

If I am questioned by law enforcement, should I provide a statement?

Absolutely Not.

It is never in your best interest to talk to law enforcement without an attorney. Police will often imply or promise that if a suspect cooperates, they may receive leniency or not be arrested. This is often untrue, and it is a common technique used by deceptive law enforcement agents to obtain incriminating statements to use against you at trial.

Also keep in mind that police are allowed to lie to you about the case and the state of the evidence to induce you to make a statement. For example, they will often claim that they have fingerprints, DNA, or other physical evidence that implies you are guilty. They may claim that they have you on camera, or that your co-defendant made a statement against you. Never let claims by the police about the state of the evidence induce you to make a statement.

You may think you are helping your case by making a statement. However, you may be hurting your case without knowing it through actions or statements that block potential defense strategies. For example, your statement about self defense may forgo a possible false identification defense, since now the police know you were at the scene of the incident. Always resist the temptation to speak with law enforcement without first having contacted an experienced defense attorney.

Instead, inform the law enforcement of the following:

  • You are going to remain silent.
  • You want to speak with an attorney immediately.
  • If law enforcement agents keep trying to talk to you, don't say anything, even if they come back later and try to talk to you again.

The fact that you refused to speak with law enforcement cannot be used against you at trial. Do not panic, and do not allow law enforcement agents to bait you into giving up your rights.

If I don't provide a statement, will law enforcement assume I am guilty?

They already think you are guilty, and everything you say will only be used to support their assumption that you are guilty.

Whether you are guilty or truly innocent, it is normal to want to explain your side of the story, even though doing so usually helps land you in jail or prison. If you are questioned by law enforcement, immediately invoke your right to remain silent and have an attorney present with you. The fact that you invoked your right to an attorney cannot be brought up against you or even mentioned at your trial. Anything you want to say now can be said through your attorney, or after seeking an attorney's advice about whether it is in your best interests to provide a statement.

If I am innocent, shouldn't I make a statement and tell the police everything I know?

Absolutely not.

When a person is innocent or has a valid defense such as self defense, it is common to want to explain your side of the story to police. However, even if you are innocent it is crucial that you nevertheless invoke your right to an attorney and your right to remain silent. According to the Innocence Project, defendants confessed or admitted guilt in about 25% of cases where people served time in prison for crimes that they didn't commit.

For more information on confessing to crimes you did not commit despite actual innocence, see Frontline's "The Confessions" and innocenceproject.org.

Especially if you are innocent, you should always invoke your right to counsel and right to remain silent and get an attorney immediately.

If I invoke my rights and demand a lawyer, can law enforcement still talk to me?

If you invoke your rights and demand a lawyer, law enforcement should not legally question you further regarding your case. Not surprisingly, law enforcement agents often disregard the law and get another officer or police agent to try to question you about your case again. Sometimes they will also ask you questions about other cases or other incidents as well. If you repeat to them that you want to invoke your right to remain silent and right to an attorney and say nothing else to them in response to their questions and statements, they should eventually follow the law and stop talking to you.

Should I talk to anyone about my case besides an attorney?

Absolutely Not.

If you invoke your rights and demand a lawyer, law enforcement will sometimes try to get other people to induce you into making a statement. For example, they may ask your cellmate or another inmate at the jail to ask you questions designed to trick you into making statements. They may ask a family member or friend to call you and ask questions about the case, while the call is being recorded. The jails always record all phone calls and jail visits, and they read all of the letters that you send and receive from the jail. Furthermore, law enforcement almost always reads a suspect's text messages (whether they were erased from their phone or not) and looks at their Facebook page or other social media. Be very aware of what messages you send and what statements you make about your case, even when you are not talking to law enforcement directly. The only person who owes you a duty of confidentiality and can't testify about your statements is your attorney, so make no statements to anyone else about your case.

What if the police say that if I give them information about other people or other crimes, they will not take me into custody or be more lenient in my case? Should I make a statement without an attorney?

Absolutely Not.

It is never in your best interest to talk to law enforcement alone. Police will often imply or promise that if a suspect cooperates, they may not take you into custody or will be more lenient in your case. Sometimes they tell you that if you "give up three, you get out for free," especially in drug cases. If you decide you want to cooperate with law enforcement in exchange for leniency, this should always be done while you are represented by an attorney. An attorney will make sure any promises for leniency are done in writing, and after being fully advised of all of your rights. If you make a deal with the police without an attorney, the police can take advantage of you or fail to provide you adequate protection in jail or on the street. If you decide to provide information to law enforcement, you should always consult to attorney to be sure that your rights and your safety are protected during the process.

What if I feel that the police violated my constitutional rights?

If your constitutional rights were violated, the Law Office of Jessica Agnich will aggressively seek to exclude evidence obtained as a result of any police misconduct. If the police conduct an unlawful search, your lawyer can ask the judge to exclude any unlawfully obtained evidence against you. If law enforcement violated your constitutional rights while attempting to take your statement, your lawyer can ask the court to suppress the statements under Miranda or due process grounds. Motions can be filed to exclude evidence that can get your case dismissed, get you better plea bargain deals, and help you win at trial. If the police violated your rights when you were arrested, make sure to consult an attorney who can discuss possible motions that can be made in your case.

If law enforcement wants to search my home, car, or person, should I give them permission?

Absolutely Not.

The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that all citizen of the United States have the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement violates your rights, none of the evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search and seizure can be used against you, and often the case against you has to be dismissed.

However, if you consent to a search, law enforcement can search without a warrant, and they will often search in more areas in and more places than you originally allowed.

If law enforcement asks to search you, your home, or your car, tell them that if they do so it is without your consent. Look closely at anything that you sign and demand a copy of it immediately to be sure you aren't consenting to be searched in writing. The reality is that they may search anyway, but at least your consent can't later be used to justify the search.

Always be respectful of law enforcement and don't physically stop them from searching, but politely make it clear that your consent was not given for the search.

What if I am on probation, parole, or PRCS? Can law enforcement still search my home, my vehicle, and my person?

Not necessarily.

Just because you are on probation doesn't mean that you are on search and seizure. Also, police must know first that you are on probation or parole before they conduct their search. Always be respectful of law enforcement and don't physically stop them from searching, but make it respectfully clear that the search is against your consent.

Should I consent to a search if I have nothing to hide?

No.

There is no reason to allow law enforcement to violate your privacy and your constitutional rights, even if you have done nothing wrong. Sometimes people have things that they don't realize are illegal, and sometimes other people have brought things that are illegal into your vehicle or home. Never consent to a search, and don't give up any constitutional rights without first consulting with an attorney.

Many criminal attorneys say they can do juvenile law. If I hire a regular criminal defense attorney does it mean that they are qualified to represent juveniles accused of crimes?

Not necessarily.

Most criminal defense attorneys concentrate their practice on adult cases and rarely practice in juvenile court. These lawyers often lack the experience and knowledge to effectively represent juveniles. Jessica Agnich has the experience to successfully handle juvenile as well as adult criminal cases, and regularly attends trainings in this legal field in order to stay apprised of current law. If you are a parent whose child is facing a juvenile delinquency case, it is very important to get a experienced juvenile defense attorney to help your child. Jessica understands that your child's future is at stake, and she will zealously advocate for your child throughout the juvenile court process.

I am not a U.S. Citizen. Can my immigration status be affected by a criminal case?

Yes.

Criminal convictions can have significant and grave consequences on a defendant's immigration status and can lead to deportation proceedings. Immigration law is very complex, and the Law Office of Jessica Agnich frequently confers with immigration lawyers to properly advise clients about the possible implications of criminal convictions. If you are not a United States citizen and are charged with a crime, make sure you consult with an attorney who can protect your rights and shield you from potential negative immigration consequences of a criminal offense.

Still have questions? Call the Law Office of Jessica Agnich today at 650-260-4105 for a confidential legal consultation. You don't pay anything unless agreed upon in writing after your free consultation.

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