What Courts Do We Serve? Glad You Asked.

One of the questions I hear most often is, “Do you guys do cases in my court?” or rephrased, “Where do you practice law?”

Keep in mind that our attorneys are licensed by the California Bar to practice in the State of California. People call us from all over California and we work on cases that are dozens of miles from our office or just a few blocks away. We are willing to give a free initial consultation no matter which California court your case is in.

When we decide to take a case, it is not merely based on geography. However there are some courts where we handle cases more frequently than others. Law Office of James Dunn is proud to serve criminal defense clients needing a Bay Area Lawyer or a Northern California Lawyer however you may define that.  We can be selective about the cases we take, so our main focus is our ability to make an impact on a particular case depending on the facts. James Dunn and I proudly call ourselves “Bay Area Attorney” or “Northern California Attorney”. It is true that the majority of our work makes us a Silicon Valley Criminal Defense Attorney or a San Mateo County Lawyer or a Santa Clara County Lawyer. We have represented those needing a DUI lawyer, domestic violence lawyer, sexual assault lawyer, theft lawyer, fraud lawyer, embezzlement lawyer and child pornography lawyer. James Dunn has over 20 years of experience with over 2000 criminal cases and has done over 150 jury trials, therefore, if you have an issue and you don’t know what category it falls under, just call us and we can discuss it.  We will provide you with a confidential consultation.

What Types of Cases Do You Not Handle?

We tend to not handle wills/trusts, personal injury, bankruptcy, or commercial law / corporate law whatsoever; however, we often know someone who we can refer to. We do tend to have more referral sources for these categories: immigration lawyer, family lawyer or divorce lawyer. Our goal is to listen to anyone calling our firm, even if they are not strictly calling about a criminal defense matter, and to try to steer you in the right direction.

Although our core geography makes us Silicon Valley Lawyers, having our main offices in San Mateo County and Santa Clara County, we have additionally defended people against charges in San Francisco County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, as well as periodically assisting defendants in San Benito County, Santa Cruz County, Monterey County, and Solano County. And even have attorneys who can defend in Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer

With great frequency, we appear in the following Superior Courts: South San Francisco, Redwood City, Palo Alto, San Jose, Morgan Hill, Dublin, Oakland (Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse and Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, Fremont, San Francisco, Hollister, Santa Cruz.  This is a partial list of courts we defend cases in.

I may have missed a few places we have helped someone resolve a case and move on with their lives. Whatever your situation, if you are in California, I hope that you call our firm so we can try to help you. I will personally answer the phone and help if I can.

Sincerely, Robert Preskill

How We See Your Case: Domestic Violence in South San Francisco and Redwood City

In the San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City, and South San Francisco Mission Street Court as well as Alameda and Santa Clara Counties (San Jose), we have handled several cases—misdemeanor and felonies — related to domestic violence. People often ask us what our track record is on domestic violence cases or they ask us to predict an outcome.

Although we cannot promise a result, we help out by developing a process that is consistent yet accommodates the facts in play. We have heard of several strange approaches taken by other firms and we do not approve of everything we have heard. Our goal is to be strong for our client while being as above board as possible, taking in mind the intent and wishes for the ideal outcome of the parties we represent. We also take a look at certain other factors, in part listed here.

How We Evaluate a Domestic Violence Case

1. Did the San Mateo County based parties mutually fight?
2. Were alcohol / drugs involved?
3. Is one party in a Domestic Violence case a perpetual abuser? Is the defendant abused?
4. What immigration status does each party have?
5. Did a concerned neighbor observe and report the alleged domestic violence? What did that party claim to observe?
6. Were children present? Whose kids? What ages?
7. Which party is trying to control the message? What is the message and how closely does that conform with the evidence?
8. A victim has rights and all parties need to respect that. Are the parties able to follow directions from their respective lawyers and follow judge’s orders.

Domestic Violence Defense Strategies

In this blog post, I do not want to state what our domestic violence defense strategies might be. It is important for a lawyer to keep your particular facts in mind when developing a strategy. We provide a free consultation for people seeking to choose a domestic violence lawyer in San Mateo County. We cover Redwood City and South San Francisco courts, and notices arising from Burlingame PD, San Bruno PD, South San Francisco PD, Milbrae PD, San Mateo PD, CHP or CHP-RWC, San Carlos, Atherton, Woodside, Menlo Park and more.

It is important to discuss your matter with an attorney in San Mateo County for your San Mateo case. We can look everything up and give you a basic roadmap and strategy and often that can greatly help your situation.

Mom Did It Again: Objectives and Challenges in Helping the Elderly in a Criminal Matter

As Bay Area / Silicon Valley Criminal Defense Attorneys, we sometimes get calls from family members who are trying to help an elderly parent through a criminal case.

Types of Criminal Case in Which an Elderly Person is Involved

This could be a theft-related matter, a violation of a protective order or an abuse of process. Sometimes it is an illegal possession case: a gun, drugs, open container, even illegal pornography. Well, it’s like people say, sometimes judgment is hazy or people get bored or frustrated, and little ruts become big liabilities.

When a parent is in trouble, we have seen situations where the son or daughter’s words have gotten them there—possibly in an effort to protect them from self-harm. At times, there is a pattern of manipulation. It is not exactly our role to judge if these were misunderstandings or gross negligence, or truths. However, if a comment is abuse of process, we could argue that it was intentional, and that could be a defense.

Often other factors play a role in a parent’s violation of laws: malaise, a temper caused by understandable frustration, helplessness, psychological causes, valid arguments or concerns about money or healthcare.

Our role in these cases is to use total compassion and to render help no matter what the situation.
-James Dunn

Solutions to Avoid Jail

While we may only discuss the case with the defendant, barring a power of attorney or explicit waiver by the defendant, we can try to convey timing issues and basics so long as there is no conflict. We help families get back on track– jail is no place for a senior.

We’ve found challenges in getting proper medications into the jails, and other medical and psychological needs might not be met. If this is the case, we can argue that home monitoring and alcohol monitoring is a better option.

Where a small amount of jail time is proscribed, the Sherriff’s Work Program (“SWaP”) would be appropriate. But what if mom or dad are not physically suited for picking up trash at the roadside? There are substitutes we could suggest to a judge.

Of course, most cases to not result in jail time at all, however I point these items out for those who wonder how a parent could make it through the process. Be assured your attorney and the legal community will help them in any way we can.

Don’t Let Santa Drink and Drive: 5 Ways to Avoid a San Mateo DUI This Holiday Season

Santa with champagne

  1. Watch what you drink! Remember those charts you saw when you got your driver’s license telling you how many drinks you can have based on your weight? You should know that these guidelines can get you in trouble. People’s metabolisms process alcohol differently, so you should keep your BAC (blood alcohol content) far below the maximum legal limit. Of course, this will also help keep you and your passengers safe.
  2. If you use a personal alcohol breath tester to check your levels be aware they are not always accurate. These devices may make great gifts and passing them around at a party may remind people to drink responsibly. Just remember you are not simply trying to be under the limit to avoid arrest but under the margin of police error and not under suspicion of DUI.
  3. Remember that your BAC will continue to rise after you stop drinking. Your BAC may drop about .015 per hour after it peaks. The measure of alcohol may be also compounded by the alcohol residue in your mouth and throat. And other factors could involve having some other residue in your mouth, having excess acid in your stomach and natural amount of alcohol in your system for other reasons such as a Keto diet.
  4. If you are under 21, remember that California has a zero-tolerance law. If you are under the age of 21, and you drive with any detectable alcohol in your system. You do not need to be impaired or “under the influence”. You will face a mandatory one-year suspension of your license.
  5. Use Uber or other rideshare companies to get to your holiday parties. Please don’t get in your car after drinking! Pick a designated driver or call a cab or rideshare company.

Happy holidays and stay safe and sober in 2020!

Posted in DUI

SF To Vote On Waiver of Criminal Court Local Administrative Fees

KQED recently reported on an effort to waive debt and local court fees (not all fees) on criminal convictions. It turns out that most of these fees are not collected and there is a sense that a path to the straight and narrow should not involve endless debt. Currently there is more than $15.5 million piling up as debt and that is only for the last 6 years recorded.

The city collects about $1M per year, which is just a small percentage. These fees are not a deterrent but rather a reimbursement for local administrative tasks that some argue should be covered in a general budget. The kinds of fees at issue include: electronic monitoring, fees for being booked in to jail, monthly probation department fees or restitution collection fees. They do not include, for example, fines or restitution.

At this point, over 20,000 people owe money on top of their fines, and this prevents such people from avoiding a warrant or getting their record cleared.

How many people have debt from all these fines and fees? 20,000 people owe nearly $16MM in fees.

On February 6, 2018, the issue was raised by Board of Supervisors president (Mayoral Candidate) London Breed, who announced this at a press conference:

“These are fees that have created barriers to reentry just when people are looking to turn their lives around. This has disproportionately affected many communities of color for decades. That contributes to the never ending cycle of poverty…”

According to the piece, the measure is likely to pass. If it does, it will wipe out debt that exists and cancel certain fees moving forward. In the face of violations of probation (VOPs)and because people with criminal convictions need to clear their record to gain employment and move forward, the extreme debt the stats show has social costs. It is best not to set people up for failure.