Frequently Asked Questions


1. I was arrested for a DUI, blew a .11/.12 at the station. What rights do I have in this situation? Is it worth fighting this since I blew over .08?

DUIs are rigorously enforced and prosecuted. While the case is being filed in court, the DMV gets the information of your arrest, and you should consult a lawyer immediately to protect your rights at the administrative hearing for your license suspension. It is only a myth that you cannot beat your DUI, no matter what the facts are. DUI criminal prosecution is based mainly on the arresting officers’ subjective opinion and impressions as to your perceived level of intoxication and the pseudo-scientific evidence of the breath/blood based on the testimony of the biased criminalist on payroll with the law enforcement agency. Both can be effectively countered and discredited depending on who is your lawyer. First, when you are detained by a police officer for some alleged traffic violation, you should not answer any questions regarding your drinking. Any statements you make regarding your drinking pattern or where you were coming from will be used as evidence against you in court. You should tell them you do not want to volunteer that information. Second, when they confront you with their suspicion you might have been drinking or that you smell alcohol, don’t fall into the trap. They are using psychological tricks on your mind, by implanting fear in your brain to gather information to use in court against you. Third, don’t agree to field sobriety tests by telling them you are not physically fit or have physical impairment to be able to do those tests right at that moment. Fourth, you do not have any obligation to agree to blow into the small testing device that the police ordinarily carry with them. This is called a PAS machine that is highly inaccurate and detects mouth alcohol, or stomach acid, which will then alert them to alcohol presence in your body and further investigation. Fifth, if you do all of the above, but still are arrested and taken to the station, you will be told you have to submit to a blood/breath test there. By California law they have to admonish you that if you refuse this test, your license will be suspended. However, you should be advised that once you provide blood/breath (depending on your choice), you will provide legally admissible evidence of presence of alcohol in your system. The legal limit for alcohol concentration is .08. Therefore, you should weigh seriously whether suspension of your license is as important to you as getting a criminal conviction in your record. By balancing the two, you should either refuse the test or submit to it. If you refuse, your refusal can still be used against you in court as consciousness of guilt. However, the government will not have any hard evidence of alcohol in your system, except for subjective impressions of police. Remember, the government can not forcefully draw the blood without your consent without a warrant, with very limited exceptions. If you decide to submit to the test, it is still not the end of your case. Both blood and breath tests are extremely inaccurate for a number of reasons. First, the breathalyzer that is used to obtain breath sample is subject to numerous errors and its scientific validity is still questioned. Second, the effects of alcohol on the human body are a subject of fierce scholarly dispute. Your lawyer qualified in this field will be able to counter the prosecution so-called expert, the criminalist, who works for the county with a real expert, who will come to court and discredit the entire prosecution theory. This is done every day in court and the most difficult DUI cases with the most impossible facts can be won as I have done in the past.

2. When detained by police, do I have to answer their questions and submit to a search of my property?

Absolutely NOT. When you are contacted by police, whether it is friendly or confrontational, you are under no legal obligation to answer their questions. You have no obligation to volunteer information. They are entitled to learn only about your identity. If asked for identification, you should provide one. If you are a suspect of a crime, you have the legal right to remain silent, right to an attorney and in fact, anything you say will be used against you in court. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you free of charge. Furthermore, you have the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, which means you have the full legal right to refuse the search of your person or property. The police need a warrant not only to arrest you, but also to search you or your property. Ask them if they have a warrant. Ask them for the reason for detention. If they do not have a warrant, refuse any search of your person or property. The police has several exceptions to the warrant requirement, and the most heavily relied upon is your consent. If they obtain verbal consent or permission from you to search your property, the evidence obtained will be legally used in court. Therefore, you should refuse to consent and not succumb to the police pressure. Unless you stand by your rights and demand them, no one will. No lawyer will be able to help you after the fact, if you voluntarily give up your rights.

3. If I speak to police because I believe I am innocent, will my statements be used against me in court?

YES. In fact, the law requires the police to give you a Miranda warning before any questioning, that you have the right to remain silent, anything you say will be used against you, you have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford one, one free of charge will be appointed. However, because the police are trained in obtaining statements from you, most of the time, they skip this step or give only lipservice to it, by encouraging you or pressuring you to talk to them. They may also try to talk to you before you are formally arrested. In fact, most of the confessions come before formal interrogation, when the police are having a casual conversation with you before you suspect that you will be detained and taken to the station. In their mind, this is not a ‘casual banter’ but a way to soften you up. They are specifically trained to make you feel comfortable to obtain cooperation from you and statements that can be really damaging to your situation. They won’t tell you, that you are under investigation/ arrest or will be charged with anything. They will keep you in the dark regarding the reasons for your detention to encourage you to talk with them. They will tell you (directly or indirectly) that they will not arrest you, won’t file charges, or will give you lenient treatment, if you speak with them. They may make threats, will make you feel that they will not release you unless and until you speak to them. These are unlawful techniques to obtain a confession and most of the time they have no power to keep these promises. Often it is hard to prove in court because the police are skilled at testimony and will not admit they ever made such statements or used such tricks. You need to remember, even when there is no other evidence against you, your statements are enough to charge you and convict you. Under limited exceptions, all your statements will be used against you in court. Therefore, you should not speak to police under any circumstances, even when you honestly believe you are innocent and want to cooperate with the government. The problem is that, unless you are a lawyer, or have full information about the police investigation, you don’t know the legal significance of your statements. Consult me immediately when you are in custody of police. If you cannot afford an attorney, you should ask for one and not agree to talk with them.

4. If I get a letter from police, inviting me to go the station to speak to them regarding an ongoing investigation, should I go and cooperate with them?

Every case will be different and you should consult Ms. Mkrtchyan regarding the specifics of your situation before making a decision. But generally, if the police are asking you to go to the police station, they are investigating a crime, where you are either a witness or potentially a suspect. Then they will use your statements any way they choose. They may file charges against you, or may put you down as a suspect in a further investigation. You should not speak with police without full consultation with your lawyer.

5. I had a citation for a misdemeanor. When I went to court, I was told the ticket was not filed and there was no pending case against me. I forgot all about it, until three years later, I was pulled over by CHP for a traffic violation, who told me I had a bench warrant. He arrested me and I went to court to find out that the misdemeanor ticket had been filed and there was a failure to appear on the record. I had no notice of this.

This happens quite often. The problem is that with the court congestion, some tickets get delayed filing and then the county sends notice to your last known address with the court date. If your address is not accurate in their records, you will not get notice and a bench warrant will issue. However, in your situation, three years passed, and the government had plenty of opportunity to serve you with notice again. A single failure to appear at your last known address is not fatal. The law would permit the judge to dismiss this case because the government failed to follow-up and arrest you timely. In that three year period you must have had a lot of contact with the government, through work, school, and other venues, and if they failed to serve you with the notice to your current address, the law requires the case to be dismissed for delays in prosecution. However, in order to avoid you from being taken into custody on a bench warrant, I advise you to check with the court where you were initially supposed to appear, on a regular basis, after the ticket was issued. In this case, probably the citation was filed after you appeared and then since you did not get the notice, a bench warrant issued. If you had checked with the court later, you would have prevented this from happening.

6. I was arrested and all my property, including my cell phone with my kids’ pictures was confiscated from me. The court case is still pending, but I would like to get my cell phone back.

When you get arrested, depending on the nature of the crime and the investigation by police, all your property will be subject to search and may be booked as evidence of the crime. Recently the US Supreme Court has ruled that the police need a separate warrant to search your phone/smartphone even after you are legally arrested for a crime. Unless you consent to the search, the police legally cannot search your phone without a warrant or exigent circumstances. You can protect your phone by having a lock code and not divulge that information to the police. You can have your phone returned by asking your lawyer to file a motion for return of property. However, if the cell phone is booked as evidence, you may not get it back until your case is resolved.

7. My attorney never told me about immigration consequences of my plea when I was pleading in my case 6 years ago. Now I am facing deportation proceedings as a result of this conviction. What do I do?

Your lawyer had a legal duty to advise you of specific immigration consequences at the time you decided to plead. You may have a suit for malpractice against him/her. When you entered into the plea agreement the court also should have advised you of potential immigration consequences of your plea. Under limited circumstances, you may be able to withdraw your plea and enter a different plea, if you did not know of potential immigration consequences. When entering into a plea agreement, your lawyer can do several things to make sure you avoid immigration consequences and avoid deportation, which can be devastating for your family. Contact me for further consultation.

8. When I was arrested by police, I posted bail and got out. However, when I went to court, my bail was raised without notice to me and I was remanded. What happens to the money I already posted? Why did my bail get raised?

This is a tricky situation. The bail is often set by LA County Sheriff’s before you appear in court, without looking either at the facts of the case, or your criminal record history, or bail schedule. Sometimes, it is a very low amount. You can take advantage of that and post bail and get out on bond. However, be aware, that when you appear in court, the judge may raise your bail according to the bail schedule, your record, or the circumstances of the case. The court has discretion to depart from the bail schedule. You should be prepared to present facts in your favor, individual circumstances, the fear of losing your job, or financial situation, family to take care of, etc. If you are remanded, you should ask your lawyer to ask for the bail to be exonerated so that the money you posted will be applied to the new bail. It is wise to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as you are arrested, so that your lawyer can guide in the process of posting bail, and can recommend a trustworthy bail bonds agent. Consult me for further.

9. I had a bad argument with my wife, she called 911 and made up stuff about me. As she was doing that, I wanted to deescalate the situation and left home. The police had arrived, looking for me. Two days later I was arrested at my job and was charged with domestic violence. Did I act appropriately by leaving or should I have stayed there waiting for police?

When you are in a bad argument with your spouse, you should always try to deescalate the situation, by lowering your voice, or calming down. Under no circumstances you should get physical with your spouse. Domestic violence is wrong and is fiercely prosecuted. However, if your spouse has a history of making up stuff, you should always try to call the neighbor to be present during your argument. You can also try to video record the argument on your phone. If she is calling 911 in your presence, you should let her do so, without interfering. If she makes any false statements, you can prove that at a later time. It is no point in escalating the situation by dissuading her from calling 911. It is illegal to dissuade someone from reporting a crime, whether it turns out to be false or not. It is normally not a good idea to wait there for the police to arrive. Because while you are agitated and angry with your spouse for calling 911, you may make statements to police that may potentially be used against you in court. However, in some circumstances you may want to stay there for police to arrive. You should contact me immediately and get advice depending on the situation. In any event, when you are being detained or arrested by police, you should remain silent and not discuss the case or the situation with them. When you talk about the facts with your lawyer, he/she will then present them in court on your behalf at a later time. If your spouse has a history of making false statements, you should keep good records of that, by saving emails, texts, or anything in written form to be used in court. If your spouse alleges you physically beat her, and offers photos, your lawyer should examine the date and time of these photos, and by whom they were taken. Oftentimes it will come down to a credibility issue at trial. You should be prepared to present evidence to damage her credibility for jury. Anything in this regard is a fair game and with some exceptions can be used in court. Call me for consultation on this issue.

10. I have a medical marijuana card and am part of a collective. I was driving to work when I was pulled over for traffic violation. Then the police asked me to search my car for contraband. Believing I had nothing illegal, I allowed them to search it. They found the small jar with green leaves and arrested me for transportation of cannabis for sale. Did I do anything wrong by carrying my marijuana in the car? Do I have to prove that the marijuana I was carrying was for personal use not for sale? Am I allowed to share my marijuana with others in my collective?

The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 in California allows patients to use marijuana for medical purposes. You or your primary caregiver are legally entitled to transport, deliver or cultivate medical marijuana for your personal use/collective’s use. By law all that is required is to show your medical marijuana card issued by the state and you should be protected from arrest and harassment from law enforcement. To qualify as a primary caregiver the person must regularly assume responsibility for housing, health and safety of a qualified patient. However, the police can detain/arrest you because they don’t take the card seriously and you have to prove you are a qualified patient or a primary caregiver. They also consider the amount you are carrying and often make subjective assumptions about whether it is for personal use/or sale. The litigation in court will revolve around two things, after it is established they had a right to stop and search your car: 1) if you qualify to use/transport medical marijuana under the Act, 2) whether you had it for personal use or sale. They will look not only at the amount, but also packaging, the amount of cash on you, your cellphone, etc. There are legal limitations to the amount you can possess for personal use, which can be overcome by proof of your individual needs determined by your doctor. If your doctor believes, your health issues require more use than prescribed by law, you can possess more. The law does not allow cultivating, distributing marijuana for profit or furnishing marijuana to those not qualified as patients or primary caregivers under Compassionate Use Act. Cooperatives, collectives and dispensaries for cultivating marijuana for medical use are legal under state law, as long as they do not operate for profit and distribute marijuana only to qualified patients/their primary caregivers. You can definitely share your marijuana with anyone in your ‘collective’ or ‘cooperative’ as long as it is not for profit. The primary caregiver can also get reasonable compensation for his services from the patient. However, there are federal and local laws in clash with the Compassionate Use Act and you should contact me for further consultation. As there are national and state trends to completely legalize marijuana, this area of law is constantly evolving, which will affect your status and ability to protect yourself and your collective.

11. If I plead to a criminal offense, will that affect my license as a nurse?

Yes. Any criminal conviction, misdemeanor or felony, has potential serious consequences for obtaining or keeping any professional license. The involved licensing board examines not only the record of conviction, but also the underlying facts behind the conviction to determine your suitability to hold the professional license. Usually the default is to deny or revoke any license based on a criminal conviction. It is very hard to convince these boards to make an exception for your case. Therefore, at the time you are charged with a crime and before you decide to enter into a plea-bargain, it is essential that you consult with a knowledgeable and aggressive attorney who can best defend you against such unfortunate consequences. Even the least serious criminal offense can deprive you of your livelihood and professional stature. Consult me and I will defend you from those consequences.


What to do at the scene of the auto accident:
1. When you are involved in a major auto accident, you may not be aware of your injuries at first. It is essential to call 911 immediately and report the accident and ask for the ambulance. Medical personnel are best qualified to assess whether your condition is life-threatening.
2. Unless your car is blocking the traffic, you should remain in the original position as the accident until the police arrive.
3. You should make all the effort to collect the information of all the cars involved, their license plates and their driver information. Hit and run unresolved accidents are very common.
4. You should attempt to collect the information of all those who witnessed the accident.
5. Take as many pictures and video of the scene as you can.
6. You should make the effort to provide as much information to the police at scene as possible. The police will also give you a small 4×6 card with the information how to get the traffic collision reports for the accident. You should keep that to be able to collect the police reports that contain essential information about the accident.
7. If you are not feeling well, you should seek medical attention immediately. Sometimes people do not feel sick until hours after the accident. Do not put off seeing a doctor. Your condition may get worse without medical help.
8. You should consult an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney is in a better position to collect evidence on your behalf. There may be recordings from video cameras near the accident that should be collected. There may be witnesses near the area you are not aware of. There may be other information that your lawyer will have easy access with the help of a professional investigator. The delay in getting professional assistance in your case may jeopardize success of your recovery for injuries, as witnesses disappear, video recordings get destroyed.
9. If your medical insurance does not cover the medical costs of your injuries, your lawyer may recommend you to a qualified medical professional who will undertake treatment of your injuries on a lien from the total recovery in your case.
10. Ms. Narine Mkrtchyan will take your auto accident case on a full contingency fee, which means you will not have to pay anything in attorney fees or costs of litigation, unless she recovers for your injuries.

Mkrtchyan Law - Narine Mkrtchyan Attorney at Law

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