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Vista Criminal Attorney

Life in Vista, California, can seem idyllic, with the scenic hills, woods, brush land, and patches of grassy savanna ever in view - especially in beautiful Buena Vista Park and amid the San Marcos Hills; and with the 800-plus-company business park and the dozens of educational, cultural, and recreational institutions right in town. But when arrested on charges of DUI, domestic violence, or another criminal charge, you can suddenly have a feeling like you get during the May Gray or June Gloom foggy season.

The fact is, many in Vista and throughout San Diego County are arrested on totally false or highly exaggerated allegations every single year. And when you find yourself facing potentially severe and life-changing consequences due to a criminal charge, you can't afford to be without the very best representation possible.

At Vista Criminal Attorney Law Firm, we have a longstanding community reputation in Vista for providing top-tier criminal defense across numerous practice areas and winning where so many other law firms fail or refuse to even take on the case. We have the legal expertise and dogged determination it takes to win for you - contact us anytime 24/7 at 760-691-1551, and we will give you a free consultation and immediately get started on building you a solid defense!

One of the Biggest Mistakes People Make is to Hire an Attorney Without Physically Meeting With Them. Never Hire an Attorney Sight Unseen!

Always Ask These 10 Questions Before Hiring an Attorney:

  1. Can We Meet In Person For a Consultation?
  2. How Many Years of Experience Do You Have?
  3. How Many Cases Have You Handled?
  4. Who Will Be The Attorney Directly Handling My Case?
  5. What Are The AVVO Reviews for My Assigned Attorney?
  6. How Accessible Will My Attorney Be To Me?
  7. What Areas of Law Do You Focus On?
  8. What Courts Do You Primarily Work At?
  9. How Do You Decide What Types of Cases You Accept?
  10. What Are Your Fees and Do You Accept Payment Plans?

*New Law SB393 Seal Your DUI Record or Arrest - Click Here

Servicio En Español 24 Horas Del Dia, 7 Dias De La Semana - 949-435-9992


What Top-Tier Criminal Defense Is All About

We are here to serve our clients and our community, period. We give back to the community in many ways - including being proud supporters of The Wounded Warrior Project and various local charities and community organizations and events. We are truly the "hometown law firm" that cares about local Vista, CA, clients.

But of course, the main way we contribute to improving local communities is by providing accessible, affordable, second-to-none criminal defense services to Vista and surrounding areas. But what defines quality in criminal defense? What sets one law firm apart as "top-tier?"

Immediate Attention to Your Case

If legal battles are anything, they are time sensitive. We keep our phones open 24/7, 365 days a year, therefore, to take your call for help. And we get to work on investigating, probing, and organizing your defense from day one. We don't take the wit and see approach of some other law firms, where they do little to nothing until the arraignment.

Instead, we immediately start searching for witnesses and evidence in your favor, requesting access to the police report, and looking for ways to challenge the "facts" relied on by the prosecution. You don't even have to wait until formal charges have been filed against you - if you even suspect they will be, we can already be in full swing working on your case.

Genuine Experts in Our Fields

There are many law firms filled up with lawyers with inadequate educational backgrounds and little real world experience. Their practice areas, too, are too narrow (and shallow) - or worse, they take on cases they really aren't qualified to expertly handle. We are different. We are staffed by true criminal defense experts who suffer from no learning curve and won't be bested by the knowledge or experience level of the prosecution.

Both our knowledge of California law, down to the legal minutia, and our decades of combined real-world experience stand head and shoulders above the competition. And we offer that level of expertise across a wide range of practice areas, too.

Full Familiarity with Local Courts

Even when dealing with state law, the county, municipality, or even particular courthouse that you're dealing with brings with it different ways of doing things - plus local laws, county bail schedules, and other variations.

We are familiar with the court procedures and local way of doing things in Vista and throughout San Diego County because we not only have experience - we have local experience in criminal defense. We also know judges, prosecutors, courthouse and police personnel, and others personally. We know what to expect and how to respond. None of these kinds of details will be a surprise to us because we've done it all before.

Contact Us Today for Immediate Assistance!

Personal Attention from Your Lawyer

Another factor that sets us apart as a top-tier law firm is the fact we give each and every client the personalized service and attention he or she deserves. 

You don't have to worry about being stressed out because you can't contact your attorney right when you need to most or feel like your lawyer is ignoring you or like you've been left uniformed of major developments in your case. We always communicate with you, by phone, email, text, or any other way you prefer. And we always promptly return your call if you leave us a message.


Aside from a basic acquaintance with the nature of the charges filed against you and what kind of defense strategies we use to counteract such charges, it's also important to understand the process through which criminal cases pass in California.

Below we have touched on a pretty thorough step by step, overview of the criminal defense process. We provided a detailed explanation of each step involved to help acclimate you with the legal system and what you will be facing moving forward.

A History of Winning Our Cases

Last but certainly not least - a top-tier law firm is defined by its success rate. We consistently win for our clients in Vista and other areas of Southern California. 

We aren't afraid to take on "the tough cases," and we not only win a large number of acquittals and pre-trial dismissal of charges, but we also know how to negotiate successfully to win a favorable plea deal that will reduce your charge and/or sentence.

The Arrest

No one plans on getting arrested. And when you suddenly find yourself under arrest, you may not know what to do. You may not be sure what your rights are or where the process is going. The important thing is to quickly write down the occurrences during the arrest while you still remember them clearly and to contact a good lawyer without delay, who can explain to you your rights and what you should do to prevent inadvertently hurting your chances going forward.

If police arrested you without probable cause, conducted an illegal search and seizure, failed to read you your Miranda Rights, violated police protocols, or otherwise violated your rights or state and/or federal law, this can often lead to a dismissal. But you'll need a good criminal defense lawyer to file the necessary pre-trial motions.

After the arrest, your immediate concern may be to get bailed out of jail, but remember that you can often get a 20% discount on the bail bond fee (8% fee instead of 10%) if your lawyer recommends you a bail bond agent. So it's best to make your first call be to a good lawyer.

If you've been arrested or even suspect you may soon be arrested, it's best to waste no time and to get legal help and advice as soon as possible. The earlier you begin the process of building your defense, the better.

Charges Filed

There are may instances where an arrest takes place, but where the D.A. or other prosecutor decides there's just not enough evidence to pursue the case. The police report and other information may sway the prosecution to drop the case - and a good defense lawyer can often bring some of that data to the prosecutor's attention early in the process.

There are two distinct questions the DA must answer:

  • Does it seem likely that this alleged crime even took place?
  • Is there enough evidence that the defendant committed the crime to bother prosecuting it? 

If both questions are answered in the affirmative, then the DA makes a formal complaint, which gives a detailed description of the alleged crime. Even at this point, however, there is often room for pre-trial negotiations, and perhaps, a plea bargain in some cases. It's also possible that initially filed charges will still be dropped once the defense brings more facts to the prosecution's attention.

The Arraignment

The arraignment is your first court date after the arrest. It helps if you can get out on bail before the arraignment and focus on building your defense, but either way, we will be able to prepare thoroughly and give you sound advice. 

This is where you must enter a plea, either guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Unless you were already bailed out, the arraignment is also the time at which bail will be set (unless it is not permitted at all). By having your attorney at the arraignment with you, you'll be able to bring up any alleged violations of your rights by law enforcement and other matters that can affect which evidence is permissible or if there will even be a trial.

Many times, a plea agreement or even a dismissal is obtained at the arraignment hearing, even though it is not technically an actual trial. It is in the best interests of all concerned, often times, to avoid an going to court if possible - but better to go to trial and win than to lose in a poor settlement. We know how to skillfully negotiate a plea where appropriate, but will never make a plea deal that's against your best interests or that you yourself disagree with.

The Preliminary Hearing

Even after a failure to come to an agreement or dismissal at the arraignment, before the trial actually takes place, there is yet another opportunity for your lawyer to negotiate and press evidence in your favor or other factors to try to win before the trial begins. At this point, the defense attorney gets a copy of the police report and is permitted access to all evidence that the prosecution already possesses. This exchanging of vital information is called "discovery" and it is critical to helping you win your case.

The prosecution also unveils his/her evidence to the presiding judge so the judge can decide if it is sufficiently "weighty" to proceed to trial as planned. The prosecution can argue against this, and if the judge decides evidence is too flimsy, the case will be immediately dismissed. When witnesses against you are found to be less than credible or when evidence is found to be very conflicted, the judge will probably dismiss the case.

Also at the preliminary hearing, the defense will gain access to any exculpatory evidence that may be in your favor that the prosecution knows about (but obviously would have no interest in using). We will also at this point fight to have evidence excluded from consideration in court if it was illegally obtained. And we will have the chance to cross-examine witnesses on a limited scale here to ensure they are presenting a fixed, unchanging story and not just making up new stories on the fly.

The preliminary hearing is for felony charges only, while a similar pre-trial hearing occurs with misdemeanors. Things basically are done on a bigger scale with felony charges, but the principle is the same. This step can end with a dismissal, plea deal, or lead to the trial phase.

The Jury Trial

Most cases never even go to trial, which is why you want a law firm highly skilled in pre-trial interactions and with well seasoned negotiation skills. But, it's also true that many cases will go to court and that the "legal clout" of a defense attorney based on past courtroom victories helps to get better settlements out of court and win dismissals where other lawyers couldn't attain such a positive result.

During the actual trial, we will present evidence and arguments in your favor, while working to undermine those of the prosecution. We will challenge the police report, question the credibility of witnesses against you where that makes sense, while bringing in those (including experts) who can testify in your behalf.

Prosecutor and defense attorney will vie for the support of the jury, and will also make their appeals to the presiding judge. Our first goal in every case is to win 100% with an acquittal. Where that is unrealistic, it may be best to fight for a favorable plea deal, where the charge will be reduced, you may be able to avoid actual jail time, and other sentencing elements can be reduced. Sometimes, a diversion program and deferred entry of judgment can even lead to an ultimate dismissal of the case once probation is successfully completed.

We work hard to build you a foundation for winning the best possible outcome to your case. At every step of the way, we guide you through the process and make the key, timely legal moves necessary to win a positive outcome.

We Represent the Full Range of Criminal Defense Practice Areas

Vista Criminal Attorney Law Firm is adept at handling a wide range of case-types across the full spectrum of criminal defense practice areas. As many times, there are multiple charges filed against a single defendant OR there are multiple practice areas that become relevant to a particular case, having this kind of far-reaching experience "all under one roof" is much to the benefit of our clients. Also, if we've helped you in the past and you have a new legal need, or if you know someone who does, you can be sure we can likely handle that case too - and you'll get the same high caliber of service in each area we cover. We always match you with an attorney with deep experience in all practice areas relevant to your case. While an exhaustive list is too much to include here - here is a basic overview of our top 10 practice areas. To learn more, see our individual service pages or call us up and ask us about any areas you don't see listed on our website because we may well be able to help you with that as well.

A domestic violence crime is one committed against a "romantic partner," as defined under California law. That means a current or former spouse, live-in partner, domestic partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or the parent of your child. Assault and battery, infliction of corporal injury, and other crimes when done against a person with whom you have such a relationship becomes domestic violence and are punished more severely.

Your reputation, a possible restraining or protective order, loss of custody and/or visitation rights to your child, incarceration time, years of probation, and more can all result from a conviction. No crime is more frequently falsely reported than domestic violence, and yet, without a good lawyer, it's almost impossible to navigate the legal system and win when so many assume the guilt of the accused. We will fight hard to uphold the presumption of innocence and clear you name!

Although DUI gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so, there are also many other serious driving crimes (both misdemeanors and felonies) that people find themselves charged with. A hit and run incident, vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide, driving without a valid license or with a suspended license, and unlawful use of a disability placard are a few prime examples.

Some of these crimes risk your driving privileges only and put points on your driving record. Others may also risk jail or prison time and heavy fines upon a conviction. Don't make the mistake of thinking that a driving crime isn't worth getting a good lawyer over. Don't assume you can't win against the DMV either - because we often do, every single day.

California  has  some  of  the  strictest  laws  in  the  nation  when  it  comes  to  DUIs,  and  DUI  defense  is  one  of  our  major  case-types  that  we  handle  on  a  continual  basis.  Getting  a  DUI  immediately  threatens  your  license,  your  job,  and  your  future  -  and  hiring  a  DUI  defense  attorney  can  greatly  improve  your  chances  of  avoiding  such  consequences. 

You  can  be  charged  with  DUI  based  on  a  BAC  of  .08  or  above,  .04  if  you  have  a  commercial  driver's  license,  and  .01  (any  detectable  amount  of  alcohol)  for  drivers  under  the  age  of  21.  But  don't  assume  that  a  breathalyzer  test  result  and  a  police  report  automatically  doom  your  chances  to  fight  a  DUI.  There  are  many  viable  defenses  we  use  to  win  dismissal  and  acquittals  at  both  the  DMV  and  in  a  jury  trial.  [See  more  about  California  DUI  law  under  our  DUI  Service  Page  on  this  website.]

When accused of a violent crime, you face the most severe penalties in the California Penal Code if convicted and are often pursued much more vigorously by the DA or other prosecutor. The mere allegation of crimes like murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, carjacking, assault, battery, arson, corporal injury, or issuing criminal threats can get you years in jail or state prison or even life imprisonment or the death penalty in some cases.

Also, a second violent crime conviction often counts as "strike two" under California's Three Strikes Law and doubles your sentence. And a third strike results in 25 years to life in prison. 

We know how to fight against these severe charges. Self-defense, lack of intent, mental illness, mistaken identity, false accusation, and lack of sufficient evidence, for example, are common successful defense strategies.

Petty theft (taking of property not yours worth less than $950), grand theft (stealing property worth more than $950), grand theft auto, grand theft firearm, (knowingly) receiving stolen property, shoplifting, petty theft with a prior, and burglary are all examples of common theft crime allegations in California.

Common defenses to theft charges include: claim of ownership, mistake of fact, intoxication, police entrapment, and property not taken from possession of owner.

Fraud crimes are really just a special class of theft crime, but with some form of deception involved. Check fraud and credit card fraud are the most obvious types of fraud crime, but embezzlement, real estate fraud, identity theft, and mail fraud are also commonly charted.

Fraud crimes often involve an abuse of an existing relationship of trust, and as such, may be punished more harshly than "ordinary theft crimes." As such, you should not go without the highest caliber of legal defense if accused of fraud.

No crime will destroy your reputation as fast as a sex crime allegation, no matter how baseless and false. Unfortunately, false sex crime charges are all too common in California. And a conviction can lead to years behind bars and lifetime mandatory registration as a sex offender, for many of the more severe sex crime categories.

Sexual battery, rape, statutory rape, various child sex abuse crimes including dealing in child porn, indecent exposure or lewd conduct in a public place, prostitution or solicitation of a prostitute, and the failure to register as a sex offender when required to do so by law are all common sex crimes we are experienced in defending against.

Although marijuana is legal in California, other substances listed under the federal Controlled Substances Act are not - and even marijuana in too high of concentrations or sold in violation of state rules can be cause for an arrest.

Many drug crimes are misdemeanors, like simple possession for personal use, being under the influence of a controlled substance, or possession of drug paraphernalia. But charges like possession for sale, sale or transport of illegal drugs, or drug trafficking will be felonies.

We know how to defend against all types and levels of drug charges, and how to get those who qualify into Prop 36 or PC 1000 diversion programs that can keep them out of jail.

In California, it's possible in many cases to get a past criminal conviction expunged from your record. That means that in place of "convicted of" it will say "dismissal," on your record, when potential employers and others run a background check on you.

Similarly, arrest records can be sealed if they meet specific criteria, as can juvenile records. If you served no prison time, an expungement may be possible; and if the statute of limitations is up on a past no-conviction arrest, you may be able to get the arrest record sealed and ultimately destroyed.

Sometimes, people have already spoken with another lawyer about their case but call in to get a second legal opinion. That's fine. We are ready to help. 

We always base our analysis on the details of California law and on the known facts of the case. We will give you our candid yet courteous recommendations and always look out for your best interests in all the advice we give.

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