North County Criminal Defense Attorney and DUI Lawyer

Encinitas, CA Criminal LawyerEncinitas Criminal Defense Lawyer
Encinitas is located about 25 miles north of San Diego. This beach city in the North County of San Diego is known for its cliffs, mesa bluffs, rolling hills, and its beautiful botanical gardens. Golf enthusiasts enjoy courses with beautiful ocean views, and history buffs value the historical architecture in the Encinitas shopping district. Encinitas is a great place for both young families and retirees, and has very low rates for violent crimes. Thefts and burglaries make up a majority of the crime in this city, but assaults and other crimes are not unheard of in Encinitas. Encinitas communities and law enforcement are proactive in addressing the crime trends in their city, and Encinitas is not known for being lenient on alleged criminals. If you or someone you know has been arrested in Encinitas, be sure to visit our Practice Areas page, which discusses the many charges in which we specialize.

Law Enforcement in Encinitas

The North Coastal San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is located at 175 North El Camino Real. This station serves Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar communities. The station provides a full range of services, including patrol, crime prevention, crime lab, crime analysis, criminal intelligence, narcotics enforcement, emergency services, generalized and specialized investigative functions, and traffic services. There are seven detention facilities operated by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. The San Diego Central Jail and Vista Detention Facility house male arrestees, while the Las Colinas and Vista Detention Facilities book female arrestees. All other inmates are housed under the care of the Sheriff. As of January 2000, the Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego County Marshal’s Office merged to provide court security and related services for the San Diego Superior Court.

The Department responds to nearly half a million calls annually, and handles over 300,000 “911” emergency calls and 400,000 non-emergency calls each year. With over 900 sworn deputies, community outreach is a top priority of the Department. Through partnership and educating the community, the Department provides several programs to promote the safety and well being of Encinitas and surrounding neighborhoods. In fact, the Department has specialists for their community outreach programs. For example, specialists in the Department’s crime prevention program coordinate resources and help facilitate neighborhood watch, the crime-free multi-housing program, and even provides safety and prevention information at events like community fairs.

Encinitas Court
Encinitas residents are served by the North County Regional Center, which is a full service branch shared by the Superior Court, the Sheriff, Probation, the District Attorney, Revenue and Recovery, and the Board of Supervisors. This location hears cases under: criminal, civil, family, probate, small claims, appellate, adoption, traffic, and minor offenses. The North County Regional Center is located at 325 South Melrose Dr., in Vista.

FAQ’s on California Possession Charges

How does California classify possession charges?
Depending on the facts and how the District Attorney (DA) decides to file it, your drug possession charge may fall under a simple infraction, misdemeanor, or felony. In many cases, the charge is considered a “wobbler,” meaning the DA may choose to file it as either a misdemeanor or a felony. However, in 2014, California voters passed Prop 47, significantly changing the way that these cases are filed. Prop 47 is further discussed below.

What is Prop 47?

Prop 47 reduces certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors. The interesting part about Prop 47 is that it permits re-sentencing for those already serving a prison sentence for any charges that may be reduced under Prop 47. This means that your possession charge, as a misdemeanor, will not carry a prison sentence or the type of fines associated with a felony conviction. In addition, it is easier for a good criminal defense attorney to negotiate the misdemeanor to an infraction.

What are some defenses to a possession charge?
The defenses available to you after you are charged with possession will greatly depend on the facts in your case. For this reason, it’s critical that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Some of the most common defenses include: medical necessity, prescription, unlawful search or seizure, issues with lab analysis, and other improper police conduct.


Free Consultations - 619-930-9515

By Lauren Noriega | Published By: Nicholas Loncar

Ocean Beach Criminal Defense Attorney and DUI Lawyer

PictureDowntown Ocean Beach (Newport Ave.)
Ocean Beach is located northwest of Downtown San Diego, south of Mission Beach, and north of Point Loma. Once known as the Haight-Ashbury of San Diego because of its large hippie population, Ocean Beach is now a diverse community. However, Ocean Beach is still known for its vintage atmosphere, and is a favorite spot for local surfers. Ocean Beach natives also boast that their town has one of southern California’s longest piers and one of the hippest dog beaches. Although Ocean Beach holds on to its hippie vibe, and is considered a tight-knit community, it has recently seen a spike in violent crimes. Historically, the town has seen more alcohol and drug related crimes and theft – but the small town definitely notices when more serious crimes start to increase.

If you or a loved one is arrested in Ocean Beach, be sure to check our Practice Areas page for competent and experienced legal assistance in a wide range of charges. It’s important to obtain legal guidance immediately after the charges arise, as available legal strategies will change as time elapses. For example, once you are arrested with a DUI, you have only ten days to request a DMV hearing to prevent automatic suspension of your license. Upon conviction, there are similar tight deadlines for an appeal.

Ocean Beach Law Enforcement
The San Diego Police Department’s Western Division serves the neighborhoods of Ocean Beach. This division serves about 130,000 people, covering about 23 miles. The division offers security checks on vacation homes and “You Are Not Alone” (YANA) checks for those who are disabled or elderly. The San Diego Police Department focuses on educating their neighborhoods about early crime prevention techniques, and involving the community in crime prevention activities and events. These events also serve the purpose of building trust between the Police Department and the citizens within the Ocean Beach communities. One of the most involved programs is the Crime Stoppers Organization. This Organization allows community members to help solve serious crimes. They’re also linked with San Diego Unified School District – offering students cash for anonymous tips that help solve or prevent campus violence and vandalism.

Ocean Beach Court
Ocean Beach is served by the Hall of Justice Courthouse located on West Broadway. It is the newest facility in San Diego County, and is occupied by the Superior Court’s Civil Independent Calendar courts, the Small Claims Business Office, the Sheriff’s Court Services Bureau, Probation, and the DA’s office.

Whether it’s your first time being arrested, or whether you’ve been arrested before, there are common mistakes that defendants often make from the point contact with law enforcement until obtaining a lawyer. Here are some of the most common defendant blunders.

Hiring a lawyer based on cost alone
The saying is true – you get what you pay for. Cost is often a factor that weighs heavily in a client’s attorney selection, but it should not be the only factor. It’s important to look at the attorney’s experience with your specific charges. For example, if you are facing DUI charges, make sure that the attorney you choose has experience (and success) in DUI cases. Significantly low pricing could mean that the attorney gets very little business, or that additional charges will likely arise through the representation. At the same time, hiring an attorney for well above the average rate does not always mean you will get top-notch representation. It’s important to do your research.

Failing to hire an attorney right away
As discussed earlier, some clients put off their attorney search until the last minute. However, this significantly reduces their opportunity for a favorable outcome. It reduces the attorney’s time and opportunity to receive critical documentation necessary for representation, and closes additional routes that may have been available at the beginning.

Choosing to represent themselves
Also known as a pro se defendant, some believe they can adequately represent themselves in front of the judge. However, understanding the meaning and options in each legal proceeding is crucial, and representing yourself is unlikely to result in a favorable outcome. The law is complicated, and you are not only paying for your attorney’s knowledge, but also their experience in similar matters.

Making statements to police without an attorney present
Police are allowed to use several tactics to get you to talk, but you have a Constitutional right to have an attorney present during custodial interrogations. Trying to talk your way out of your criminal charge at this point will only give additional ammunition for the prosecutor once the charges are filed. Once you are read your Miranda Rights, insist on having counsel present before speaking with police.


Oceanside Criminal Defense and DUI Lawyer

Oceanside Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney
Oceanside is located just south of Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, and is known for its classic, Cape Cod-style harbor village. The beach community is located about 39 miles north of San Diego, and has a population of more than 175,000. With attractions like Lego Land, SeaWorld, and the San Diego Zoo, Oceanside is one of southern California’s top tourist destinations. In addition, Oceanside is ranked by U.S. Today as having the second most ideal climate in the entire country. Oceanside also has a very family-friendly atmosphere, and several tight-knit communities. Unfortunately Oceanside, like any other tourist destination, sees its fair share of crime. Crimes like theft, DUI, and domestic violence are present in every U.S. city, but Oceanside has been the scene of several high profile, serious crimes.

Oceanside Law Enforcement
Oceanside is served by their own police department, which is located on Mission Avenue. The department is also equipped with officers who patrol the harbor, and safeguard Oceanside’s beaches. The Oceanside police department focuses on working with the community in order to prevent crime, instead of addressing crime as it occurs. The department’s attributes their declining crime rates to the implementation of prophylactic techniques within the community. In 2007, the city’s crime rate was the lowest it had been in 30 years. Oceanside PD also stations resource centers throughout the city, which is staffed with volunteers who assist the public with crime reports and similar police-related objectives.

Oceanside Court
The North County Regional Center, located on South Melrose Dr. in Vista, is the nearest courthouse for Oceanside residents. Although there is a juvenile court located on Mission Avenue, the North County Regional Center is a full service branch. This court hears all cases, including: criminal, civil, family, probate, small claims, appeals, adoption, traffic, and other minor offenses. In addition, this court virtually the same operations and functions as the downtown San Diego courthouse – which is located nearly 40 miles away from Oceanside. The North County Regional Center is shared by the Superior court, sheriff, probation, district attorney, revenue and recovery, and the board of supervisors.

As part of Oceanside’s focus on preventing crime and keeping their community safe, they often plan DUI checkpoints. The San Diego Police Department and California Highway Patrol reported five deadly alcohol-related crashes from June 1 to August 27, 2015. Oceanside reported no fatal alcohol-related crashes in this timeframe, which may be due to increased checkpoints and comprehensive patrolling. If you or someone you know has been arrested in Oceanside for DUI or another crime listed on our Practice Areas page, contact us immediately for unparalleled criminal defense.

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding DUI charges.

The police used a Breathalyzer and my BAC was high, do I still have any defenses?
Although most people assume that a high BAC results in a definite DUI conviction, a good attorney may either negotiate with the prosecutor for a reduction in charges, or even get the case dismissed based on constitutional issues. For example, if the attorney can prove that there was no reasonable suspicion for the police to pull you over in the first place, any subsequent evidence will not be permitted (including your BAC). There are also several other defenses that are commonly used in DUI cases, including rising blood alcohol levels, failure by the police in conforming to field sobriety procedures, and even medical issues that can affect BAC’s.

Do I need an attorney for my DMV hearing?

Many people do not retain an attorney for their DMV hearing, which is separate from the court hearing and criminal charges. However, the DMV hearing can be an important component in the entire process, to keeping your license, and to setting up for success at trial. For example, if your attorney subpoenas the police officer that pulled you over, the attorney can then find inconsistencies or credibility issues before the court hearing. In addition, this lets the police and the prosecutor know that you are prepared to fully defend yourself against the charges, which may have an effect on their willingness to negotiate.

What happens if I refused to take a chemical test?
California has something called an implied consent law, which means that once you are arrested for DUI (and the officer has probable cause for the arrest), you impliedly consent to a chemical test in order to obtain your BAC. This implied consent law does not apply to the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) device test that is performed on If you refuse to take the chemical test, and are later convicted of a DUI, you will be subject to fines, lose your license, and may even get jail time. Additionally, the fact that you refused to take a chemical test may be used against you in court.

Do I have the right to an attorney while taking a field sobriety test?
The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to an attorney during custodial interrogation. Unfortunately, however, field sobriety tests are neither custodial nor interrogative under the law. You do not have the right to an attorney until after you either submit to the field sobriety test or refuse to submit to the field sobriety test.

What symptoms and behaviors do police look for when they pull you over?

Police will look for the common symptoms of intoxication: slurred speech, glossy eyes or bloodshot eyes, the inability to answer questions, and of course, the smell of alcohol.



PB Criminal Defense Attorney and DUI Lawyer

PB Criminal Lawyer
Pacific Beach Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney
Pacific Beach, San Diego, is located south of La Jolla, north of Mission Beach and Mission Bay, and west of Interstate 5. Pacific Beach was largely known for its young, surfer and college student residents. However, the population is gradually becoming older and more affluent due to the high cost of living. Pacific Beach is known for its nightlife, its boardwalk, and its representation of the iconic “California dream beach town.” While Pacific Beach may be the picture of a California dream, crime statistics from recent years indicate that Pacific Beach has the highest crime rate among the San Diego beach communities. The higher rates are likely due to the fact that Pacific Beach is somewhat of a party town, and it is one of the larger beach communities.

If you or a loved one has been arrested, charged with a crime, or may be under investigation for a crime in Pacific Beach or anywhere else in San Diego county, it is important to have an experienced, knowledgeable, dedicated attorney on your side to fight for you.

Pacific Beach Law Enforcement

Pacific Beach is served by the Northern Division of the San Diego Police Department. This division serves a population of 225,234 people and encompasses 41.3 square miles and 11 neighborhoods. Focused on crime prevention, the Northern Division offers several activities and programs that are designed to maintain close relationships with the communities in which they serve. These activities include neighborhood watch programs, and one day per year called “national night out.” On the first Tuesday of every August, residents are encouraged to spend a couple of hours outside with neighbors and police. Many of the residents participate by holding cookouts, parades and block parties. The department also offers “YANA” checks (You Are Not Alone), where family members can request regular checks on anyone who is elderly or physically challenged and living on their own.

Because officers in Pacific Beach are focused on community outreach and crime prevention, they handle crimes within their community very seriously. If you or someone you know is being charged with any of the crimes listed our Practice Areas page, be sure you are getting competent legal help from an experienced attorney.

Pacific Beach Court
The nearest courthouse to Pacific Beach is the Hall of Justice Courthouse, which is a new facility located on West Broadway in San Diego. This location is occupied by: the Superior Court’s civil independent calendar courts, the small claims business office, the Sheriff’s court services bureau, probation, and the District Attorney’s office

Here are a few basics about just some of the charges in which we have successfully represented clients:

DUI: being charged with DUI can have significant effects on the individual being charged, especially if you have a professional license. DUI cases can be reduced to a simple infraction if you hire a competent and aggressive attorney with experience in DUI cases. DUI cases can be difficult for you to handle without an attorney, because this charge deals with both administrative law and criminal law. Attorneys understand how these areas of law overlap and affect each other. In addition, attorneys are more familiar with plea procedures and how to negotiate with prosecutors. They also understand what types of mitigating factors may work in your favor.  more information

Drug crimes: Drug crimes come with a societal stigma that can affect your career and even your personal life. Many times, those with drug offenses are repeat offenders, which can make negotiations with prosecutors more difficult. However, an experienced attorney can analyze police procedures to identify possible areas where the police obtained evidence in violation of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. If the police ignore federal or state search and seizure rules, any evidence obtained from the illegal search will be inadmissible. However, without an attorney to identify these points, the evidence may be offered against you without rebuttal. In addition, California’s marijuana laws are still somewhat in their infancy, so there are several points in which an attorney can make policy or statutory interpretation arguments in your favor.  more information

Sex crimes: Sex crimes are often a delicate topic, and like many other crimes, they can have direct effects on virtually all aspects of your life. Registering as a sex offender is a major part of these effects, but the laws in California require registration of offenders that are a danger to the community. An experienced and competent lawyer may argue that your situation is an isolated incident, or that mitigating factors warrant that you no longer need registration. Alternatively, if you have yet to go to trial, a good attorney can help negotiate plea bargains and reduced sentencing.  more information

Traffic tickets: Nearly all California drivers have experience with traffic tickets, and they can be costly and time-consuming depending on the charge. California has cracked down on specific tickets, especially cellphone and red light violations, which tend to be the most expensive. Attorneys who have experience with moving violations can help to prevent points on your record and increases in insurance.  more information


(619) 930-9515

Carlsbad, CA Criminal Defense Attorney and DUI Lawyer

Carlsbad is in the Northern San Diego County, and stretches the Pacific coastline about 87 miles south of Los Angeles. Locals know Carlsbad as the "village by the sea" and is a beach town that values community. Carlsbad also has a prominent arts and cultural presence, and takes pride in its high quality education and community services. Although Carlsbad is regarded by many as one of the best places in to live in Southern California, it is certainly not crime-free. As Carlsbad continues to grow and sprawl, the crime rate inevitably increases. As a result, police presence will also increase, so it is important to know your rights if you are arrested. With low crime rates, local law enforcement can place a special emphasis on reducing DUI. Carlsbad is nearby Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido and Encinitas, and is served by the 5 and 78 Freeways. 

If you or someone you care about is arrested, be sure to check the Practice Areas page for more information regarding various arrests and potential convictions - ranging from drug offenses and theft crimes to homicide. It is also important to know about the conviction process. For example, your case may be appealable, and there are many different strategies to appeal a guilty conviction. For more information about the appeals process, visit the Appeals Page.

The City of Carlsbad Police Department is a full service department, headquartered at West Mermod Street. The Department prides itself on a strong ethical code of conduct, and devotes a significant amount of resources to community outreach, including a prevention and intervention counseling program for elementary and middle school students in the Carlsbad Unified School District. They also coordinate a neighborhood watch program, and a free, seven week program designed to teach Carlsbad residents about their city government.  Additionally, California Highway Patrol is the primary law enforcement agency on the 5 and 78 Freeways passing through Carlsbad.

Carlsbad is served by the San Diego Superior Court North Regional Center (located on Melrose Dr. in Vista, California). As a full service branch, this facility is shared by the Sheriff, Probation, District Attorney, Revenue and Recovery, and the Board of Supervisors. This branch has most of the operations and functions as the downtown San Diego courthouse, and the business office at this location handles all filings and records, the Arbitration Department, jury facilities, Family Court Services, Probate Examiners, Legal Research Department, and the older Records and Exhibits Office.

Below is a general guideline for some of the most frequently asked questions regarding criminal cases:

What is the Three Strikes Law?
California is one of the states that adopted the three strikes law, which counts any felony conviction as a "strike." Once someone has a strike on their record, subsequent convictions receive harsher punishment. Once someone has one strike prior, a subsequent felony conviction will make prison mandatory and double the punishment under the law. If the third strike is serious or violent felony, the defendant may receive a 25-year-to-life sentence.  Judges and DAs can strike a strike as part of a plea deal, but it is important to have a persuasive hard-working lawyer on your side. 

If the victim in my case no longer wants to press charges, will the DA dismiss the case?

Unfortunately, once the charges are filed, the case now belongs to the state, and the state will determine whether or not to proceed in the case against you. This means that even if the victim comes forward and requests the charges be dropped, the state will likely proceed if there is sufficient evidence for a conviction. It is important to hire a skillful and competent attorney, even in this situation, as the victim may become an important part of the defense.

What is the difference between probation and parole?

Probation is an alternative to incarceration, where the defendant is allowed to remain in the community under supervision and specific restrictions. Parole, however, is a condition of release when a person is being released from prison. Another key difference is that probation is handed down by a judge, whereas parole is decided by a parole board.

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
In California, felonies are punishable by a minimum confinement of one year. Generally, a felony conviction will also include fines and may include probation. As a lesser charge, misdemeanors are punishable by maximum confinement of one year. Those convicted of misdemeanors are also usually required to pay a fine (maximum of $1,000). There are also charges known as wobbler charges, which give the District Attorney's office the discretion to file the charge as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of each particular case.

What are some of the considerations to weigh when choosing to take a plea deal?

A good attorney should be able to gauge whether or not it will be beneficial to have a jury trial, but sometimes it is better to avoid a trial. Trials can be costly, lengthy, and stressful. In addition, taking a plea bargain may help get you a reduction in the number of charges and/or the type of charges against you. However, each case will have different considerations to weigh, so it is important to have an attorney that will explain all of the pros and cons in your specific case.


By Lauren Noriega

San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Explains PC 977

For many defendants, having to go to court may be a daunting source of anxiety. For others, it may be impossible to get out of other obligations in order to attend. Fortunately, § 977 of the California Penal Code allows certain defendants to avoid court, as long as they send counsel. The licensed attorney may appear in court on the defendant’s behalf, and the Penal Code even allows the attorney to enter or change a plea, set subsequent hearings, and negotiate or finalize plea agreements. Although the very purpose of an arraignment hearing is to give the defendant an opportunity to be present, some defendants may wish not to attend. Additionally, people are often charged with a crime in San Diego who do not reside in San Diego.  An arrest that takes place on vacation may be handled without your personal presence if you have an attorney who can represent you in court.  It is our job to best protect your rights and interests.  Sometimes this includes appearing in court on your behalf so that you can continue to attend work or school and take care of other obligations.  Here is a breakdown § 977, which governs when a defendant does not have to go to court:

PC 977(a) says that only those charged of a misdemeanor may appear by counsel unless the defendant falls under one of the statutory exceptions, which require the defendant to be present. Some misdemeanors do require that the defendant be present. One such misdemeanor is an offense involving domestic violence. In this case, the defendant must be present for the arraignment and the sentencing, and at any time the court needs to inform the accused of the conditions of a protective order against him or her.

Other misdemeanor exceptions in which the accused must appear in court is a driving under the influence-related (DUI) offenses. The court may order the defendant to be present for arraignment, or during a plea or sentencing. The offenses under this DUI exception include: gross vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving, or causing bodily injury to anyone other than the driver.

As a general practice, judges are apprehensive to allow a defendant’s absence to clear a bench warrant, even in a misdemeanor case, unless there is a strong and persuasive excuse for why the defendant is not present. This demonstrates the importance of going to court when required to be present, or at least having counsel present in cases where a § 977 is permissible.

PC 977(b) applies to those charged with a felony. Unlike PC 977(a), which allows most defendant charged with a misdemeanor to be present through counsel, those charged with a felony must be present. This includes: at the time of a plea, the preliminary hearing, portions of the trial when evidence is offered before the judge or jury, and at sentencing. The defendant must be present at all proceedings unless the court grants a waiver. The written waiver must be done with leave of court, executed in open court, and signed by the defendant and defendant’s counsel, and then filed with the court. The initial court appearance, arraignment, and plea may then be done by video. However, it’s important to note that the court may still require the defendant to be present at any specific proceeding, including those listed above. PC 977(b)(2) provides the form in which the waiver should be written.

The court also has the power to allow an initial court appearance and arraignment of the defendant to be conducted via audio video, unless the defendant was indicted by a grand jury

Finally, the court can compel attendance in felony cases where the defendant fails to appear on a fixed date and place for arraignment. PC 978 and 979 allow for bench warrants to be issued when the defendant fails to appear to court.


By Lauren Noriega

Warrants Explained by a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

San Diego Warrants Lawyer
Warrants can be very pesky and tend to rear their ugly heads at the worst possible time—such as on a first date, or during a family holiday celebration.   Often, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you clear a warrant BEFORE you find yourself arrested and booked into jail wondering what to do next.  Warrants can result in an untimely and humiliating arrest, as well as potentially costing you employment, and often a suspension of your driving privilege.

Bench Warrants.  Bench warrants are issued by a judge (i.e. from the bench) typically upon a defendant’s failure to appear (FTA) in court or upon an allegation that the defendant has violated probation in some fashion.  Failing to appear on a scheduled court date will usually result in the issuance of a bench warrant.  Probation violations are commonly alleged when a person fails to complete court-ordered requirements, fails to appear for a probation appointment, or fails to submit proof of completing a court-ordered class or program, or even failure to pay a fine or fee on time.  

If you have a bench warrant, contact the Finnecy Law Firm immediately for a free consultation.  Criminal Defense Attorneys Jay S. Finnecy and Nicholas Loncar may be able to appear in court on your behalf to recall the warrant BEFORE you are arrested on the warrant.  

Arrest Warrants.  Arrest warrants are also issued by a judge upon application by a police detective (Ramey Warrant) or the District Attorney’s Office upon the filing a felony complaint alleging a new criminal offense.  Arrest warrants are usually handled with more urgency than bench warrants.  If you are the subject of an arrest warrant, it is imperative that you contact the Finnecy Law Firm without delay.  Criminal Defense Attorneys Jay S. Finnecy and Nicholas Loncar can contact the police and/or District Attorney’s Office on your behalf and arrange a peaceful surrender on the warrant—preventing the embarrassment of being arrested in public or at your place of employment.  

The California Penal Code governs arrest Warrants.  Section 817(a)(1) provides:  “When a declaration of probable cause is made by a peace officer of this state, in accordance with subdivision (b) or (c), the magistrate, if, and only if, satisfied from the declaration that there exists probable cause that the offense described in the declaration has been committed and that the defendant described therein has committed the offense, shall issue a warrant of probable cause for the arrest of the defendant.”

Penal Code section 817(b) provides:  The declaration in support of the warrant of probable cause for arrest shall be a sworn statement made in writing.  Penal Code section 817(c) allows the magistrate to take an oral statement (from a peace officer), under oath, under certain circumstances.  

If you are the subject of either a bench warrant or an arrest warrant, contact our law firm immediately for a free consultation and case evaluation.  619-930-9515.

By Jay Finnecy


North County San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney

San Marcos is located just west of Escondido, in San Diego County. Neighboring towns include: Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Vista. San Marcos is known for its educational system, parks, recreation, and environmental awareness. It’s also known for having some of the best restaurants in North County and several golf courses to choose from. Although San Marcos is a quiet, safe community, like any community – crimes do occur. While violent crimes are somewhat rare in San Marcos, the city does experience crimes like burglaries, rape, assaults, and robberies.

Law Enforcement in San Marcos
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department provides contract law enforcement services to San Marco, and covers a service area of more than 100 square miles – including Escondido and other unincorporated areas of San Marcos. Patrol deputies in this area are assigned to specific parts of the city, which allows the officers to become familiar with the residents and any particular problems within that area. San Marcos also has a Detective Unit, which investigates various crimes, including property crimes and general crimes against people (theft and burglaries, physical assaults, sexual assaults, vandalism, and domestic violence). San Marcos also has a Crime Prevention Unit, focusing on community outreach and free services.

San Marcos Courts
San Marcos is serviced by the North County Regional Center in Vista, which is shared by the Superior Court, Sheriff, Probation, District Attorney, Revenue and Recovery, and the Board of Supervisors. As a full-service branch court, this location deals in criminal, civil, family, probate, small claims, appeal, adoption, traffic, and minor offense cases.

If you or someone you know has been arrested in San Diego County, it’s important to have a competent criminal defense attorney who knows California law. Whether you’re being charged with a minor offense like vandalism or a serious crime like homicide, it’s vital to secure the best legal representation available to you. Be sure to check our Practice Areas page for additional information about various criminal charges under the California Penal Code, Vehicle Code or Health and Safety Code.  Put our vast experience with California Law, San Diego County and the North County (Vista) Courthouse to use for you.

Below is a general guideline for some of the most frequently asked questions regarding criminal cases.

What rights do I have at the time of my arrest?
Your right to remain silent is perhaps your most important right at the time of arrest. Many people may unintentionally make their situation worse by talking to the police without counsel present. In addition, if you are in custody, the police must read you your Miranda Rights before they question you. You have the right to have an attorney present whenever the police perform a custodial interrogation.

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
In California, felonies are punishable by a minimum confinement of one year. Generally, a felony conviction will also include fines and may include probation. As a lesser charge, misdemeanors are punishable by maximum confinement of one year. Those convicted of misdemeanors are also usually required to pay a fine (maximum of $1,000). There are also charges known as “wobbler charges,” which give the District Attorney’s office the discretion of filing the charge as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of each particular case.

What is the difference between probation and parole?

Probation is an alternative to incarceration, where the defendant is allowed to remain in the community under supervision and specific restrictions. Parole, however, is a condition of release when a person is being released from prison. Another key difference is that probation is handed down by a judge, whereas parole is decided by a parole board.

Do I need a lawyer even if I plan on entering a guilty plea?
Deciding to enter a guilty plea can involve complex negotiation with the prosecutor. A good criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate for a lesser charge or a lighter punishment, so having an attorney is critical, especially when deciding whether or not to enter a plea.

How does a prosecutor decide to file charges?

The prosecutor will file a case when he or she believes that a case has enough evidence for a conviction. In addition, the prosecutor will consider whether this evidence was obtained without violating the defendant’s constitutional rights. If the evidence was obtained unlawfully, it will be inadmissible in court.


San Diego Perjury AttorneySan Diego Perjury Lawyer
Crimes that involve providing false information while under oath (whether in court or in other communication with government agencies) are treated very seriously in San Diego, under California law.  Providing false information to police or other government agencies is also a crime and is aggressively prosecuted in San Diego.  The most serious offenses involve lying under oath and otherwise undermining the integrity of the court process: perjury, suborning perjury, dissuading a witness, intimidating a witness, and obstruction of justice.  Providing false information to police, filing a false report or lying while not under oath are also criminal acts, but are generally treated as misdemeanors, not felonies.  Perjury is always a felony, and dissuading a witness can be a "strike" under California's Three Strikes Law.  All of these crimes involving dishonesty can carry serious consequences, including time in jail or prison, probation, fines, immigration consequences and loss of employment/professional licensing.  Crimes involving moral turpitude (crimes of dishonesty, or "crimen falsi") are a special category of crime, a conviction of which it is vital to try to avoid.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with perjury, dissuading a witness, intimidating a witness, filing a false report, providing false documents to the DMV or must testify in the future and is concerned about how the testimony could expose possible criminal liability, you need a passionate, aggressive, experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney on your side to protect your rights and your liberty.  Call now for a Free Consultation.  619-930-9515.

Pursuant to PC 118, California Law makes it a felony to intentionally provide false information under oath.  This most typically applies to false statements made on the witness stand in court, but can also apply to testimony at depositions, sworn declarations or affidavits, and applications with the DMV and other government agencies.  There are many defenses to perjury including: the statement was not false, the statement was not known to be false when made, the question was not understood, the answer was misunderstood, the lie was regarding an immaterial fact, the person was not actually under oath, the person was threatened or under duress and more.  Suborning perjury is the act of getting another person to lie under oath and is also a felony under California Law, pursuant to PC 127.  This can be done by parties to a lawsuit, criminal defendants, and even attorneys who call witnesses to the stand knowing that the testimony will be false.  Bribery by a witness or of a witness is also a felony under California Law, pursuant to PC 137.  Those convicted of Perjury or suborning Perjury are punishable by two, three or four years in prison.

California has a large population of undocumented immigrants.  Though recently laws have passed to allow those without proof of legal status to obtain certain government benefits, it is a serious crime to present false documents to a government agency to obtain employment licenses, drivers licenses, etc.  Pursuant to PC 114, it is a felony to use any false documents to conceal citizenship or resident alien status.  The false documents are often falsified birth certificates, social security cards, drivers licenses, state ID cards, among others.  Those convicted under PC 114 face up to 5 years in prison. 

California Law treats any efforts to keep a witness from testifying very seriously.  These offenses include dissuading a witness pursuant to PC 136.1 and bribing a witness pursuant to PC 137.  Defenses include: false accusations, misunderstandings, mistaken identity and more.  PC 136.1 is a "wobbler" meaning that it may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony.  If a felony, dissuading a witness is also a "strike" under California's Three Strikes laws.  As a misdemeanor, dissuading a witness carries up to one year, while as a felony, it is punishable by up to four years.  Additionally, there can be enhanced penalties if the offense involved the use of a firearm or other weapon or if the act was committed by a gang member for the benefit of the gang.


Obstruction of justice is a broad term that is often applied to a variety of conduct concerning criminal investigations and court proceedings.  Proving false written evidence, pursuant to PC 132, is a felony, punishable by up to three years.  Preparing false evidence for any legal proceedings is also a felony, pursuant to PC 134.  Destruction of evidence or concealing evidence of a crime is a misdemeanor, pursuant to PC 135.  Planting evidence is also a crime pursuant to PC 141.  If committed by a police officer, planting evidence is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years. 


Treated much less seriously than lying under oath (perjury), VC 20 makes it a crime to use a fictitious or false name or to knowingly make any false statements in a document filed with the DMV or California Highway Patrol.  Providing false documents to the DMV is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in county jail.

Knowingly making a false report of a crime (felony or misdemeanor) is a serious crime in San Diego and under California law, pursuant to PC 148.5.  Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and the courts are very aggressive in their prosecution and sentencing of such crimes.  If the false report leads to the arrest of an innocent person, the false report will be  punished even more harshly.  Filing a false report is a misdemeanor in California and is punishable by up to six months in county jail, a fine of as much as $1000, and a term of probation of up to 5 years.  There are many defenses in these cases including that the statement was not false or not known to be false when made. 

Making a false statement to a peace officer is a broad crime that can cover a wide range of statements to law enforcement.  From simply denying speeding, all the way up to filing a false report, making any false statements to police with the intent to defraud is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1000 and up to five years probation.  Like with filing a false report, the government must not only prove that the statement was false, but that it was known to be false when made.  This is a difficult burden for the government to meet, but asserting the defenses will still require effective, aggressive representation from your attorney.

Though any false statement to police, and any false report of a crime are both already crimes in California, the California Vehicle Code (VC) provides for a separate crime in cases involving a false report of a stolen vehicle.  A false report of a stolen vehicle is common, often to deflect liability for an accident, DUI, hit and run, or as part of a more serious insurance fraud course of action.  VC 10501 is generally a misdemeanor, but can be filed as a felony if the defendant has a prior conviction for the same offense.

If you or a loved one has been arrested, charged with a crime or is under investigation for a crime relating to perjury or other false statements, you need a passionate, experienced, detail-oriented attorney who knows the law and how to best fight for you.  Contact us now for a FREE CONSULTATION with a San Diego criminal defense attorney.  619-930-9515.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego DUI Lawyer
T: 619-930-9515
By Nicholas Loncar

San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Explains Your Right to be Free from Unreasonable Search & Seizure

San Diego Search and Seizure Lawyer
The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects our rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.  The delegates to the Constitutional Convention refused to sign into law the Constitution until the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments) was added to protect individual freedoms.  Our framers and founders were deeply concerned with an overreaching government taking too great an interest in our private lives.  One of the most important concepts of protecting individual liberty was to ensure that agents of the government could not subject our citizens to searches or arrest without such action being deemed "reasonable".  Though this freedom has eroded throughout our history, the Fourth Amendment is alive and well in our office, and any courtroom we step into.  We fight hard for our clients, asserting their Fourth Amendment rights in court.  If you or a loved one has been searched or arrested without probable cause in San Diego, you need a passionate, knowledgeable, dedicated San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney.  Our office has an excellent track record asserting clients' Fourth amendment rights, often leading to dismissals of criminal charges or exposing police officer credibility issues to be used later at trial.

Not all government intrusions into our lives give rise to Fourth Amendment protections.  Items observed in plain sight or officer observations of a person or their property in a public place are generally not seen as a search by the courts.  Still, a search need not necessarily involve any physical entry into or onto property.  For example, the US Supreme Court has held that the use of heat detection technology to uncover marijuana grow operations is a search, requiring a warrant.  Though police used the technology from the street, it was not readily available technology and thus violated the Fourth Amendment.  The test for whether an intrusion into our privacy is a search is whether a reasonable person would expect to have privacy in their actions or possessions.  Accordingly, different levels of protection will apply to conduct occurring inside the home and conduct in public.  So while indoor, basement marijuana grow operations are likely to require a warrant to uncover, an outdoor grow operation is more likely to be discoverable without a search.  Another example of police conduct that does not rise to the level of a search is a pat-down.  The US Supreme Court has authorized officers to engage in a brief detention and pat-down of the exterior of a suspect's clothing without probable cause and without a warrant.  The reasoning is that the "limited" intrusion of a pat-down can be justified by a lower level of evidence (reasonable suspicion).  Pat-downs, searches, and even alleged plain sight observations should all be challenged in court to protect the rights of the accused.

The stop and frisk (pat-down) discussed above is considered by the courts to be short of a search, but the scope officers are afforded during these limited intrusions is also limited.  A pat-down may include only the outside of a suspects clothing.  If the pat-down does not give an officer probable cause to search, it must end right there.  In reality, police will often state that the pat-down gave them probable cause to search, and getting rid of the evidence would require a showing that the officer either: (1) initially lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct the investigatory detention, or (2) did not acquire additional evidence from the pat-down to justify a search.

Under California law, the remedy for unlawful searches is to have the evidence suppressed.  More often than not, when the evidence found as a result of the unlawful search is suppressed, the case will be dismissed.  This prophylactic rule exists to protect all citizens from unreasonable intrusion by law enforcement.  If police could just pat-down and/or search people, their vehicles and their homes without any reason, they would do so for arbitrary and discriminatory reasons.  If an innocent person is searched and violated, there will be no court case and no opportunity for the judge to address the rights violation.  This is why evidence is suppressed in criminal cases arising out of unreasonable searches.  By throwing out unlawfully obtained evidence, police are encouraged to respect people's rights and conduct searches only when authorized under the constitution.  Search and seizure issues are complex and require close attention to detail, thorough knowledge of Fourth Amendment case law and persuasive argument before the judge or magistrate.

Due to the public nature of automobiles, drivers have a lessened expectation of privacy in their cars.  Traffic stops are not considered charges, but are rather deemed to be a type of investigatory detention like a stop and frisk.  During a traffic stop, an officer might observe items in plain sight, smell the odor of marijuana, alcohol or other contraband, and engage in conversation with the driver.  Police do not need a warrant to search a vehicle, but will still need to have probable cause, consent, or to arrest the driver based on probable cause for arrest.  After a lawful arrest, police may conduct what is known as an "inventory search" of the vehicle, including opening up luggage, bags or other containers within the vehicle.


The most common justification for searches is that the person to be searched gave their consent to be searched.  Police officers are trained to use intimidation, lies and other forms of manipulation to obtain consent.  In reality, most "consent searches" are not voluntary, and informed citizens would assert their rights if they felt they were allowed to do so.  Police will frequently begin their searches without permission and assert that the lack of objection represents consent.  Clearly, this is not true consent.  It is important to note that the law defines the same word (consent) very differently depending on how well it suits the government's objectives.  For example, in many rape prosecutions, the issue of consent is the primary defense.  In these cases, the defendant will need to make a strong showing of affirmative consent in order to avoid prosecution.  At the same time, courts are likely to deem searches consensual, even where it would be clear to any reasonable person that there was in fact no consent, or that such consent was coerced by the use of fear, force or false information.  "Consent" obtained through the use of threats and fear should be challenged in court, but it is imperative that your attorney can make forceful, persuasive arguments.  The cards are stacked against the defense, but that does not mean these important rights are not still the supreme law of the land.

Knowing and asserting your rights during a police encounter are key to protecting your rights from being violated by police.  During encounters with law enforcement, it is important to make it clear that you decline to be searched and are not consenting to any police searches.  The police might very well ignore your demands, but it is important to assert these rights at the scene so as to better protect yourself in court.  When possible, it is also vital to preserve objective evidence of police encounters and searches.  Filming police can go a long way towards protecting your rights from being violated in the first place, or showing that a violation in fact did take place later down the line. 


DUI, Drug Crimes, Theft Crimes, Marijuana,Financial Crimes, Weapons, Homicide and more.

Search and Seizure issues have a deep, rich history in American jurisprudence.  Criminal defense attorneys protect these important Constitutional rights on a daily basis, not only helping our clients avoid criminal convictions, but also keeping police (at least a little bit) honest in their dealings with civilians.  If you or a loved one has been arrested, searched, charged with a crime or may be under investigation, you need an experienced, knowledgeable, passionate San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney on your side, fighting for you.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego DUI Lawyer
T: 619-930-9515
By Nicholas Loncar