Have you been ARRESTED or contacted by the Police, a Detective, FBI, or CPS?
We understand that criminal charges can be confusing. Therefore, we came up with these helpful, frequently asked questions to help guide you.
College or high school students considering law school often ask Ninaz for advice about entering the legal profession. Her response is always the same: “If you want to become a lawyer just to make money, then do something else because there are much easier ways to earn a living. But if you truly want to help people, then by all means you should consider pursuing a career as an attorney.”
Ninaz has been a true believer in every sense of the term long before she even started law school. This burning desire to help others, particularly underdogs whose civil and criminal rights have been violated by the powers-that-be, was instilled in her early on.
Every so often, someone asks her, “How can you sleep at night knowing that you’re defending criminals?”
To which she responds with her own question: “Do you enjoy living in a free society where you are guaranteed personal freedoms and civil rights? Where you are automatically entitled to certain guaranties of liberty, such as the right to be tried by a jury of your peers, and the right to a hearing before an impartial judge to determine if there was sufficient probable cause to justify your arrest or to ensure that the search warrant was even valid in the first place? Are you grateful that you live in a country where the police can’t just arrest you and throw you in jail for months or even years without any hearing or trial? Where if you are wrongly convicted, you have a fair appeals process to fall back on?”
Inevitably, the other party replies to all of the above, “Well, of course I do.” As Ninaz explains, “Well, who do you think ensures that those due process rights are guaranteed? That those individual liberties are protected?”
The answer: criminal defense attorneys. We form a thin but powerful line between you and the government to ensure that our system of checks and balances are strictly followed. At our Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm, we believe that our job is to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system – to force the police and prosecutors to do their jobs properly and legally. To ensure that they follow the rules of evidence and procedure, and that the ends should never justify the means.
This is why we fight. This is why we believe. This is who we are.
Please contact us immediately so we can point you in the right direction without wasting your time.
Sage advice from the late Lucchese crime family associate Jimmy “the Gent” Burke (played by Robert DeNiro in the 1990 film Goodfellas) – advice we recommend you follow if and when you are stopped by police for any reason. As a matter of California law, when you are questioned by a police officer, sheriff’s deputy, CHP patrolman, DA’s Office investigator, or any other law enforcement official, you are only required to provide the following two items of information:
That’s it. If the police press you for additional information about yourself or whatever you are doing at the time, tell them this:
“On the advice of my attorney, I respectfully decline to answer, and hereby invoke my lawful right not to answer, based on the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.”
It is absolutely critical that you not say anything to the police when you are questioned because, as the famous Miranda warning goes, anything you say can and will be used against you in court. All of your statements will go into the police report, and you can rest assured that the police officer will testify against you as to what you said.
Keeping your mouth shut also ensures that the police won’t be able to falsify any statements that they will later use against you. And always keep this in mind: you will never be able to talk yourself out of trouble, much less an arrest. In other words, the more incriminating statements you give to the police, the more difficult you make it for your attorney to adequately defend you.
Similarly, if the police attempt to search your person, vehicle, residence, or any other place or thing without a search warrant and seek your permission to do so, respond as follows:
“On the advice of my attorney, I respectfully deny you permission to search me/my vehicle/my home, and hereby invoke my lawful right to refuse permission based on the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.”
Without a valid search warrant, the police – in the absence of probable cause – need your express permission to search your vehicle or residence. This also applies to a search of your person where, if lacking reasonable suspicion, the police need your explicit consent to conduct a lawful search.
Additionally, as discussed above, if the police try to further question you at the station (or even on the way there), simply repeat your lawful right not to answer under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Then add the following:
“I also hereby respectfully invoke my rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution to contact my attorney and make my phone call.”
Once you assert these rights, the police have no choice but to stop questioning you. Ideally, you would have an attorney on retainer so that you can also provide the investigating detective or officer with your lawyer’s contact information. If you already have the Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm on retainer, you would simply show them your digital identification provided by your attorney.
We always take offense when people dismiss these liberties as mere technicalities. On the contrary, these are the most fundamental freedoms we enjoy in the United States, and particularly in California, where one’s federal Constitutional rights are further strengthened by the state’s own Constitution. It is these very same black-letter civil rights that motivated the colonists to fight the American Revolution against their British oppressors, and which were codified as basic human rights in the federal Constitution. It is these very freedoms which form the basis of our democracy.
PNCs (prospective new clients) notice when they first speak with Ninaz is how much more information she provides than her competitors. She understands that for most people, the criminal process is terrifying and alien; therefore, she always takes extra time to patiently explain it in easily understandable layman’s terms.
(The fact that she speaks Spanish proficiently enables her to communicate particularly well with her Latino clients and their family members.) By the end of the initial telephone call or meeting, the PNCs (and any spouses or relatives with them) are almost always left with the belief that Ninaz is more knowledgeable, experienced, and patient than her peers.
Potential new clients realize is that Ninaz doesn’t give a hard-sell sales pitch, unlike the vast majority of big-name firms whose primary objective is closing the clients and getting their money at the conclusion of the first in-person meeting or even over the initial telephone consultation.
These other defense attorneys often make outrageous or even blatantly false promises, such as their representation that they will be able to get the case dismissed at the preliminary hearing. Or these lawyers make ridiculous assertions such as about their supposedly close relationship with the judge or prosecutor, thereby implying that they can somehow sway the prosecution in their favor.
So if the lawyer you interview tells you something that sounds too good to be true, then it virtually always is.
Such misrepresentations are not only patently untrue but inherently unethical. Ninaz doesn’t need to resort to such shameless tactics. She doesn’t have numerous offices all over LA County or even the state, or many lawyers and staff, that require a huge monthly overhead.
She doesn’t have billboards overlooking freeways or late-night TV commercials. As a consequence, she enjoys the luxury of selecting only those cases in which she believes she can have the most positive impact, and in which she can invest the maximum amount of time and effort.
So instead of employing slick pressure tactics, Ninaz prefers to plainly lay out the facts, the law, and potential defense strategies in such a manner that even the most unfamiliar individual will know what to expect as the case progresses.
She summarizes the outcomes she’s achieved in similar cases, but never as a prediction or guarantee as to what will happen in the PNC’s own situation (which would also be unethical). Ninaz understands that the more information a client and his/her family have, the less anxious and fearful they will be as to what lays ahead.
Then, after hiring her, the first thing new clients notice about Ninaz is how communicative and responsive she is to them. Unless she is in court or asleep, she promptly returns most messages within several hours. Rarely do clients of big-name firms enjoy such near-immediate feedback.
The second thing new clients notice after they hire her is how well prepared and thorough she is at each and every court hearing. She personally attends these hearings, and prepares and argues her own motions – something her big-name peers rarely do. And she always thoroughly understands the particular law or laws at issue, and conducts her own legal research in preparing for each hearing.
At preliminary hearings (again, held only in felony cases), wherein the District Attorney’s Office seeks to convince the superior court judge that there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial, Ninaz takes a different tact than many of her peers.
After having completed many hundreds of these hearings, she understands that the prelim (as it’s commonly referred to) is a mini-trial (with witnesses, cross-examination, presentation of evidence, etc.) that forces the prosecution to reveal its hand and allows the defense to keep its own cards close to the vest.
Ninaz also understands that prelims are very difficult to win (and is always upfront with her PNC’s about this reality), so will often reserve her most powerful exculpatory evidence in preparation of trial. (Nevertheless, she has experienced considerable success at prelims, including having potential-life-sentence cases dismissed outright at that stage.)
Finally, unlike many if not most of her contemporaries, Ninaz will often put her clients to testify on their own behalf at trial. She understands that juries want to hear directly from the client about what did or did not happen.
In other words, in many cases Ninaz will not simply limit her defense to attacking the prosecution’s witnesses and evidence, but will let her client tell their side of the story in their own words. Juries always want a complete picture of the events at issue before deliberating, and so whenever possible, she will try to make that happen.
This is your initial court hearing and appearance before a judge, where the charges against you will be stated on the record. If you do not yet have a private attorney, assuming you qualify financially, the court will assign you a public defender. You will then be required to plead “guilty”, “not guilty” or “no contest” (“nolo contendere”)to the charges unless your private attorney or public defender continues the arraignment to another date in the near future.
The judge will set a monetary bail amount at that time or deny you any right to bail. If you believe the bail amount is too high, your attorney may set a bail hearing in the near future. You will remain in custody until and unless you are able to make bail. As of October 1, 2019, California will no longer have monetary bail. As of that date, bail will be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on your flight risk, potential danger to the community, as well as other factors.
Assuming you have not accepted the prosecutor’s plea offer, if any, then the judge will preside over a preliminary hearing. This is often like a one-sided “mini-trial” where the prosecutor puts on witnesses, including police officers and detectives, so the judge can determine whether there is enough evidence to hold you over for trial.
This is your chance to see all of the prosecutor’s evidentiary cards without having to show yours. A highly experienced and skilled attorney like Ninaz Saffari will save her client’s best evidence for trial. She will use the preliminary hearing testimony from the prosecution’s witnesses to cross-examine them, and to look for inconsistencies that can be used to impeach them at trial.
Judges will rarely dismiss a case at the end of the preliminary hearing, particularly if the charges against you are serious. Any attorney that tells you otherwise, or that promises you he or she will be able to get your case dismissed at this stage, is probably being dishonest.
Finally, preliminary hearings are only for felony charges, not misdemeanors.
Regardless of whether you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor, you have a Constitutional right to a trial before a jury of your peers. (If you are a juvenile, only a judge will decide your case.)
If you are in custody on a misdemeanor charge, you must be brought to trial no later than 30 days after the arraignment. If you are not in custody, the deadline is 45 days. In the vast majority of cases, however, Ms. Saffari will continue the trial to allow for investigation, discovery, pre-trial motions, etc. (She will never continue the case unnecessarily.) This means that you voluntarily waive your speedy trial rights.
Jury selection, which is known as voir dire. This is where both the prosecutor and Ms. Saffari are allowed to ask questions of potential jurors so they can disqualify those whom they believe will be biased for their side. Each is allowed to disqualify a certain number of potential jurors.
Ultimately, 12 jurors will be selected by the judge, along with alternate jurors (in case any of the original jurors are forced to drop out). Ms. Saffari is highly skilled and successful at picking juries that are fair to her clients.
The opening statement, where, first, the prosecutor is allowed to summarize to the jury the charges and purported evidence against you. Then, Ms. Saffari takes her turn to summarize the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and evidence, and to otherwise highlight the strengths of your defense, including your exculpatory evidence.
The prosecution’s case. Here, the prosecutor calls his or her witnesses and presents all of his or her evidence against you. Witnesses are only allowed in the courtroom during their own testimony. The prosecutor conducts a direct examination of each witness, after which Ms. Saffari cross-examines each witness. At the end of this phase, the prosecution rests its case.
The defense’s case, where Ms. Saffari calls all of your witnesses, one by one, for direct examination. The prosecutor is allowed to cross-examine each of those witnesses. She may call you to the stand, if necessary. Since the burden of proof is on the prosecution, you have the Constitutional right to not testify (to avoid incriminating yourself or to avoid subjecting you to cross-examination by the prosecutor).
During this stage, Ms. Saffari attacks the prosecutor’s witnesses and evidence, and may provide an affirmative defense, i.e., witnesses and evidence that prove your innocence or she may present witnesses whose testimony weaken the prosecution’s case. Once this stage is completed, the defense rests.
Closing argument, where each side sums up its own strengths, as well as the weaknesses of the other party’s case.
Jury deliberations and verdict.
The final stage, if you are convicted on at least one of the charges, is sentencing. Depending on the circumstances, you may be immediately remanded into custody to begin serving your sentence, or you may be allowed a short period of time to appear for a Sentencing Hearing and get your affairs in order.
Yes. Ninaz Saffari will file all applicable motions that could benefit you, including a Motion to Dismiss based on insufficient evidence, or to suppress (exclude) certain evidence that was gathered by police illegally and/or otherwise in violation of your Constitutional rights.
During the first stage of your case, Ninaz Saffari will conduct an extensive, thorough investigation into all the relevant facts, particularly those alleged in the police report. When applicable, she uses a highly experienced private investigator to visit the scene of the alleged crime and interview all potential witnesses. She may also hire one or more expert witnesses to prepare reports that she can use as evidence of your innocence or to otherwise attack the prosecutor’s evidence.
The second stage of your case is called the “discovery” phase. Here, the prosecutor is required by law to hand over all exculpatory evidence to your attorney. This means any and all evidence that could prove your innocence, or that otherwise could support your defense. If the prosecutor fails to do this, Ms. Saffari will bring this to the judge’s attention, including by filing a motion.
During this phase, the prosecutor will typically offer you a plea agreement. This plea will can be extremely unfavorable, meaning that the conviction you are offered, or the time you will serve, will not be much less than what you would have received if you lost at trial. However, in many cases, the longer the case takes, and the more work Ninaz Saffari does on your case in gathering exculpatory or mitigating evidence, the greater your chance that the offer will improve. However, this is certainly not always the case, particularly if the charges are serious or if you have prior convictions.