Federal Court Criminal Defense
We have extensive experience representing individuals who are under investigation by federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, the Secret Service, the DEA, the ATF, military criminal investigators and inspectors general. We have deep experience representing individuals under investigation for conspiracy, wire fraud, computer offenses, identity theft, bank fraud, exploitation of minors, insurance fraud, embezzlement, mortgage lending fraud, insider trading, tax violations, money laundering, drug offenses, racketeering and serious crimes of violence, such as extortion and murder.
We are admitted to practice in all federal district courts in California, as well as a number of other federal district courts in the western and southwestern United States. We are also admitted to practice in the District of Guam. We also serve as local counsel for counsel based outside of the Central District of California.
We know how to communicate with federal prosecutors before charges are filed in order to maximize the negotiating position of our client. We are frequently successful in negotiating pre-indictment dispositions for clients that are advantageous with respect to issues of incarceration and restitution. When our clients decide that they want to cooperate with the government in its investigation of others, we know how to make sure that decision is the right one and we know how to ensure that our clients receive the maximum benefit for the services and information they provide.
When clients retain us shortly before or after charges have been filed, we approach the issue of pre-trial release aggressively and with sophistication. A client who is able to obtain and maintain pre-trial release at the outset of a federal criminal prosecution is always better off than one who is detained without bond pending trial. We have extensive experience litigating bond issues in a manner that reassures the Court that our clients are not a danger to the community or a flight risk. We take advantage of community-based resources, including residential treatment programs, which may increase the likelihood of pre-trial release. We have deep experience assisting clients with the posting of all types of bonds.
When our clients retain us to do a thorough assessment of the government’s evidence and potential legal and factual defenses, we do so in a manner that is both strategic and cost-effective. We utilize paralegals, lower-cost associate counsel and sophisticated computer applications to organize and analyze cases with large volumes of discovery, including electronic data.
Our pre-trial motions are always tailored to the facts and law applicable to our client. We never file boilerplate motions, as they are never successful in federal court. Our motions practice is based on attention to detail, thorough legal research, excellent writing and persuasive oral argument. We have extensive experience litigating motions to suppress evidence seized during searches, motions to suppress confessions, motions to sever our client’s case from that of co-defendants, motions for foreign depositions and motions to preclude government “experts” from testifying at trial. We frequently rely upon well-respected experts in the social sciences, criminology and forensic sciences to testify in connection with these motions. Where these motions are granted, they change the balance of power in a criminal prosecution and may lead to favorable settlements or dismissal.
Jury trials are stressful, life-changing events for our clients. They require careful planning, smart strategic decision-making, aggressive cross-examination and skilled argument. We have these skills and the work ethic necessary to take advantage of every weakness in the government’s case and every inconsistency and bias in their witness’ testimony.
Federal sentencing proceedings are conducted under complex rules, but it is imperative that a judge truly understands our client’s entire life history and the unique circumstances that led to their challenging situation. Again, we do not use boilerplate sentencing pleadings, as success at sentencing is only achieved by highlighting the uniqueness of the client and the high likelihood that they will not be before the Court again. Sentencing is also an opportunity to shape the way the Court views the relative conduct of multiple participants, especially with respect to issues of restitution.
Federal and State Appeals and Other Post-Conviction Proceedings
We regularly represent clients in the United States Courts of Appeal and the California Court of Appeal. Successful appellate litigation requires highly skilled legal writing, an understanding of how a case may be viewed by the Court of Appeal in the context of the larger criminal justice system, and the ability to plan for an appeal while litigating a case in the trial court. Failure to consider how a criminal matter can be setup for a subsequent appeal, if necessary, is often fatal to the viability of appellate review.
While most cases cannot be appealed until they are completed in the trial court, some issues can and should be litigated in the court of appeal before a case is completed in the trial court. These “interlocutory” appeals tend to cause significant delay in trial court proceedings and, therefore, must be pursued with intelligence and sophistication.
We are also experienced at litigating petitions for writs of habeas corpus and other forms of post-conviction relief in state and federal court. These actions are subject to strict time limits and jurisdictional rules and require thorough, strategic legal analysis. We have experience preparing and litigating petitions for habeas corpus and coram nobis and motions to vacate pleas and sentences in state and federal courts. We have experience representing petitioners in the California Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.
State Court Criminal Defense and Juvenile Delinquency
We have broad experience representing defendants and targets of investigation in state court felony and misdemeanor matters. We have represented individuals in cases involving murder, drug trafficking, insurance fraud, firearms offenses, robbery, burglary, conspiracy, theft by false pretenses, domestic violence, health care fraud, medical marijuana and serious driving offenses.
Our experience defending young people in the juvenile delinquency courts is also significant. For example, we have represented youth alleged to have engaged in conduct related to narcotics distribution, terrorist threats, and sex offenses. Our ability to find outcomes in these matters that do not jeopardize our clients’ future employment and education opportunities are based, in part, on Richard Novak’s service as a Superior Court Referee and Commissioner. As a Referee, he presided over juvenile delinquency proceedings in virtually all of the Juvenile Courts in Los Angeles County.
Representing Parents and Caretakers in Juvenile Dependency Proceedings
We have significant experience representing parents, foster parents, guardians and other relatives in juvenile dependency proceedings initiated when a county social worker accuses a parent or other adult caretaker of abuse or neglect of a child. Allegations of abuse or neglect are catastrophic for parents and their children and can result in long periods of separation and pervasive intrusion by government employees in the family and can threaten the long-term stability of a family. Juvenile dependency proceedings are, for the outsider, like landing on another planet. Counsel representing parties in these matters must be familiar with esoteric rules and a government bureaucracy that often fails to acknowledge its errors.
In addition to Richard Novak’s experience as a Juvenile Court Referee in the Los Angeles County Dependency Court, we have extensive experience representing parents, guardians and other adults accused of substance abuse, domestic violence, sex offenses and physical abuse of their children and the children in their care. We know how to defend against these allegations and, where appropriate, fashion treatment and rehabilitation plans that will lead to reunification of the family. We also have experience representing parents whose former spouses have made allegations of child abuse in order to gain an advantage in custody and child support proceedings.