Goldman Legal San Diego Office
San Diego, Lawyer, Defense Attorney, Jennifer Goldman, Goldman, California,
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Defense attorney?

Defendants look to the same Penal Code, laws and statutes to find both errors in the collection of facts, or in claims, which are used to make claims against them.  Criminal law defines crimes; sets the procedures for arrests, searches and seizures and interrogations; establishes the rules for trials; and specifies punishments for offenders.

Defense attorneys seek to find and verify the truth and protect innocent citizens as well as ensuring fairness at court. The Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments guarantee due process to all citizens who are accused of crimes. Your attorney will seek to disprove the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses or the plaintiff directly. There may be mistakes in gathering, maintaining and/or testing of evidence and the attorney may find illogical or bias which comes from the prosecution’s testimony.

The prosecutor is obligated to turn over factual evidence that is favorable to the defendant when the evidence is material to guilt or punishment, such as when a petition is made for a restraining order, if the defendant cannot access the police report, they are missing some factual evidence. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, however, and he or she must produce enough evidence to convince a judge or jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defense attorneys provide these functions:

  • Check that Constitutional rights have not been violated
  • Investigate details of the offense
  • Discuss the case with the prosecutor
  • Represent the defendant at bail hearings, pretrial motions and other appearances
  • Negotiate with prosecutor(s)
  • Provide strategy
  • Represent the defendant at trial
  • Design sentencing proposals
  • Make appeals
My Attorney Is Doing What At Court?
She Is:
Making An Appearance

The act of a party or an attorney showing up in court. Once it is established that an attorney represents the person (by filing a notice of appearance or representation or actually appearing), the lawyer may make an appearance for the client on some matters without the client being present.

Making A Special Appearance

The representation by an attorney of a person in court for: a) only that particular session of the court; b) on behalf of the client’s regular attorney of record; c) as a favor for an unrepresented person; or d) pending a decision as to whether the attorney agrees to handle the person’s case. A special appearance is different from a “general appearance” in which the attorney is committed to represent the client in all future matters, hearings and trial of the case unless he/she is allowed to withdraw or is substituted “out of” the case by the client.

to attend an arraignment

The hearing in which a person charged with a crime is arraigned in his or her first appearance before a judge. This is the initial appearance of a criminal defendant (unless continued from an earlier time) in which all the preliminaries are taken care of.

to arraign a client

To bring a criminal defendant before the court, at which time the charges are presented to him/her, the opportunity to enter a plea (or ask for a continuance to plead) is given, a determination of whether the party has a lawyer is made (or whether a lawyer needs to be appointed), if necessary setting the amount of bail, and future appearances are scheduled.

to ask for a continuance

A postponement of a date of a trial, hearing or other court appearance to a later fixed date by order of the court, or upon a stipulation (legal agreement) by the attorneys and approved by the court or (where local rules permit) by the clerk of the court.

attend a hearing

Any proceeding before a judge or other magistrate (such as a hearing officer or court commissioner) without a jury in which evidence and/or argument is presented to determine some issue of fact or both issues of fact and law.

the preliminary hearing

In criminal law, a hearing to determine if a person charged with a felony (a serious crime punishable by a term in the state prison) should be tried for the crime charged, based on whether there is some substantial evidence that he/she committed the crime.

A preliminary hearing is held in the lowest local court (municipal or police court), but only if the prosecutor has filed the charge without asking the Grand Jury for an indictment for the alleged crime. If the judge finds sufficient evidence to try the defendant, the case is sent to the appropriate court (variously called superior, county, district, common pleas) for trial. If there is no such convincing evidence, the judge will dismiss the charges.

plea or response to a charge or charges

In criminal law, the response by an accused defendant to each charge of the commission of a crime. Pleas normally are “not guilty,” “guilty,” “no contest” (admitting the facts, but unwilling to plead “guilty,” thus resulting in the equivalent of a “guilty” verdict but without admitting the crime), or “not guilty by reason of insanity” (at the time of the criminal act). Pleas are entered orally at arraignment (first court appearance) or a continued (postponed) arraignment. If after a preliminary hearing the judge determines the defendant must face trial for a felony, he/she will have to enter a plea again before a judge of the trial court.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Part of jury instructions in all criminal trials, in which the jurors are told that they can only find the defendant guilty if they are convinced “beyond a reasonable doubt” of his or her guilt. This contrasts with and is a tougher standard than the “preponderance of the evidence,” which is used as a test to give judgement in civil or non-criminal cases.



There are only a very limited number of circumstances in which an officer may make an arrest: if the officer personally observed a crime; if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person being arrested committed a crime; or when the officer has an arrest warrant issued by a judge.

  • Arrest rules vary by jurisdiction for officers
  • The police often use various tactics to protect themselves during arrests
  • Police do not have to read Miranda Rights at the time of arrest
  • The person being arrested reasonably believes that he or she is not free to leave
  • Police must read a suspect his or her Miranda Rights before an interrogation
  • Many police departments recommend that Miranda Rights be read at the time of arrest
  • Any information volunteered by a suspect can be used against them
  • Police may not have any legal obligation to tell an arrestee why they are under arrest, however they will most likely tell him or her
  • Rules always vary by jurisdiction and circumstances

If you feel your arrest is unjustified or incorrect, you can always challenge it later with the help of an attorney, and if warranted, bring a civil rights case.


Bail is property or money paid to the court as a guarantee that an individual, if released from custody, will return for future court dates.  The process for setting bail varies from place to place. It may be set at the initial appearance, which may also be the arraignment, or at a separate bail hearing.

Bail is property or money paid to the court as a guarantee that an individual, if released from custody, will return for future court dates.  The process for setting bail varies from place to place. It may be set at the initial appearance, which may also be the arraignment, or at a separate bail hearing.

Who can post bail?
1. The individual, or anyone over the age of 18, can post the bail amount on the individual’s behalf.
2. The person posting bail assumes responsibility for the individual’s appearance in court. The individual will be released after payment and is required to appear at the arraignment.

How is the bail fee paid?
1. Bail may be accepted from a defendant or surety in the form of cash, a bank check, treasurer’s/cashier’s check, or U. S. Government money order made payable to the person authorized to take bail.
2. Bail may also be paid at the police department, where the arrested person is being held, by either the accused person, or by a friend or family member.

Goldman Legal handles all the particulars of the Bail process with it’s partners.

Bail Costs

If bail is set and the individual or his/her advocate cannot afford to post it to the court, he or she is held in custody until the arraignment.

Bail Hearing
Typically a pretrial investigator conducts interviews to gather information for the court relevant to eligibility for release or bail. At the bail hearing, a judicial officer reviews the case and determines if the individual is eligible for release or if bail should be set.

Factors that are considered at the hearing:
Individual’s risk for violence    Risk for escape    Likelihood to appear in court
Residency    Employment status    Previous arrest record
Severity of the charge    Stability in the community    Potential public safety risks
The judge determines if an individual should be released and under what conditions. Following the bail review hearing, if the individual is not released, he or she is transported to the local detention center and then to the appropriate courthouse on the specified trial date.


If you or your family member is arrested, he or she will be taken in front of a judge, without undue delay (typically within 24 hours of the arrest). The judge will hear from the police regarding any charges being brought against you or your family member and may determine whether to set bail or to keep the person in jail until a trial date is set. The accused person enters a plea during this time.

  • A plea of guilty means that the individual admits to all crimes charged. An individual should meet with an attorney before pleading guilty.
  • A not guilty plea means the individual does not admit to the actions charged. Although the individual is not necessarily denying the charges, she or he is holding the state to its burden of proof (proof beyond a reasonable doubt).

Legal Representation

Meet with Goldman Legal to decide on you or your family member’s case needs. We will discuss your needs within a one-time free consultation. Goldman Legal can represent you and challenge evidence or charges listed against you by the prosecutor who represents the state (the District Attorney). Your attorney will fight for your cause and negotiate for positive results.


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