Hey, everybody. What’s going on? I hope you’re doing well. It’s actually been a whole year since I’ve uploaded a video to YouTube. I was looking at my channel and it was in February of last year that I posted. Like most people, COVID threw a monkey wrench in a lot of different things that I had going on, so I’ve been putting off uploading new videos because I’ve just been bombarded with work.
As you guys know, I’m a criminal defense and immigration attorney and I’ve been super busy, which it’s a good thing, it’s good to stay busy, but if you don’t actually set aside time to shoot content, you’ll never fit it in. Just came across and I figured I’d shoot a video on a little bit of what’s really going on. Maybe I’ll shoot another one on what’s been going on over the whole pandemic, but just wanted to do a little check-in, see how everybody’s doing.
As you can see, I have a full beard now. The last time I shot a video, I was pretty clean-cut, so that’s a big change. I actually put on about 23 COVID pounds and I’ve been working furiously for the last month-and-a-half to knock those off, so getting back to the gym and making sure that I’m eating right, getting my water in, getting good sleep, so making sure that I’m taking care of the foundation, because as you should know, that’s vitally important to peak performance, whether you’re an attorney, an athlete, a performer, or whatever it is that you do, you can always benefit from eating well, getting in regular workouts, meditation, getting good sleep, and things like that.
Life as a Defense Attorney During COVID
For today, just another day in the life of a defense attorney, I had a couple of calls from people who were interested in my services. I get a lot of people who see the YouTube channel and they decide, “Man, I really like the way this guy communicates. He seems trustworthy. He’s obviously experienced. Let me go ahead and give this guy a call.” We also get referrals from past and present clients, from other attorneys and other service providers in the community, and so people are calling all day every day with cases, and so I’ll do a free initial consultation.
Right now, we’re not doing them in person. We’re just doing them over the phone. We’ll do them over Zoom as well. We’re doing our best to maintain social distancing and continue to do our part to flatten the curve, so for right now, all of our initial client consultations, most of them are over the phone. That’s been a big change, too, because there’s a lot to be said for that in-person one-on-one, excuse me, interaction and really being able to establish a connection in person, but we got to do what we got to do, so we’ve adapted and things have been going well, just doing the meetings over the phone versus in person. Had a couple of those.
A Different Approach to Working With Referrals
Basically, what happens is somebody says, “Hey, either me or my loved one is being charged with a crime and we need help. Can you help us?” What I’ll do is, and I’ve done a video on what happens when you first meet with a criminal defense attorney, but my approach is somewhat unique. I’ve heard over the years of attorneys getting straight to the money within a minute of the call, asking, “Well, do you have this much money for fees?” and it can really set an uncomfortable tone to the conversation. Obviously, at some point, there’s going to have to be some sort of financial exchange. I don’t run a nonprofit organization. This is my business, this is how I make a living, but that’s not what I’m coming out the gate talking about.
At the end of the day, if a person is being charged with a crime, that’s one of the worst situations they’ll ever have to face, not only for themselves, but for their families as well. There’s the possibility of them losing their job or getting kicked out of school if they’re in school, the possibility of losing custody of their children or not being able take care of their children, a soiled or tarnished reputation, and then just losing your freedom.
Obviously, to go into custody or otherwise have certain liberties taken away, that’s a very, very, very big deal on top of any fines or fees you might be responsible for paying, so when it comes to facing criminal charges, I mean, it’s a very serious ordeal, and the last thing you want to do is initiate a conversation and then have someone who just comes off as a money-hungry shark talking about money and seeing if you have the ability to pay.
For me, I’m trying to get an understanding of a person’s situation, figure out what the reason for the call is, and get a general understanding of the facts. Then I’m able to offer at least an initial opinion, just scratching the surface. There’s a lot more investigation of the facts and even legal analysis and research that needs to be done, but at least in the beginning, I’m able to come up with a loose plan of how I would handle the case if I were representing the person.
You Can’t Take a Cookie Cutter Approach to Every Case
From there, I also, I’m looking to get to know the person and find out what their specific situation is because the way I would handle the case for, say, a 35-year-old guy in construction who may have a couple of offenses in his criminal history is different from how I’m going to handle a 19-year-old kid in college, which is different from how I would handle a, say, 32-year-old pharmacist, or even a doctor.
You can’t just take a cookie-cutter approach to every case. Every person has their specific idiosyncrasies and issues that are really important to them, and so I tailor my defenses to my particular client, because that’s going to affect the ways I investigate the case, certain information that I gather. It’s going to affect the way in which I negotiate cases and the like, so I really try and offer a very personalized defense, and so in my initial consultation, I’m going into that information to figure out how I would ultimately approach the defense.
Yeah, so I had a couple of those calls today, checking emails, responding to emails, responding to calls. People want to call and get an update on their case: “What’s going on? What’s the state of the negotiations with the prosecutor? Have you had a chance to go through the evidence? What do you think? What am I looking at?” Those type of conversations.
Then later today, it’s actually, it’s about 7:13, so it’s an unusually late evening. These days, I’m usually out of the office by now, but I got a later start today. I’m going to be working on what’s called a “mitigation packet.” A mitigation packet is a packet of information, usually along with the cover letter, in which I’m trying to get the DA to see things from our perspective and modify the offer that they’ve made to us.
Generally speaking, within a couple of weeks of the initial appearance, in a criminal case, the DA’s office or the city attorney’s office or even the US attorney’s office, depending on whether it’s a federal or a state case, they’ll provide the discovery, which is police reports, you need video, photos, lab analysis, witness statements, and the like, and they’ll provide an offer. I’ve discussed this process in some other videos, but they’ll make an offer in order to settle the case rather than to have to go to trial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges in front of a jury.
In order to negotiate and get something better, just as in any other negotiation, there’s a whole, you have to give to get, and so the DA may make an offer, and in order for me to say, “Okay, I understand what your offer is, but I’d like for you to actually do something better for my client and that’s X, Y, Z,” then I then have to produce to them A, B, C in order to motivate them to even entertain came that counteroffer or accept it.
Oftentimes, that’s based on an interview of my client, so I’ll usually sit down with them, and it can take an hour or it can take multiple hours in order to get the story down. I like to get into my client’s educational history, their work history, any childhood issues that may have had an effect that ultimately spill into what caused them to engage in the conduct with which they’re being charged.
Other things could be career ambitions, if a person has a desire to go back to school, or a person has a desire to start a business, or even start a nonprofit organization, different things that people have that if they were convicted of a certain offense, or if they’re put in jail or in prison, it’s going to take away from their ability to do what it is that they’re setting out to do that could be of great value to the community on a whole.
My Client Isn’t Just a Case Number
Really, it comes down to personalizing and humanizing my client such that they’re not just a case number, a criminal history, and current charges list, because that is what they have, the DA has in their file. They have a little note sheet and it has, say, three or four lines about what happened, just in a nutshell what happened in the case. Then it has their criminal history and then it has the current charges and that’s what the DA’s office makes their offer based on.
It can’t really go much beyond that because there are so many cases, there are so many thousands of cases that that’s all they can really go by in terms of making their offers, so it’s my job to add some color to just the black-and-white information on the page so that they understand this is a person who has goals and ambitions, or has a past that needs to be understood, appreciated, contextualized so that we can make sure that the right thing happens for that particular individual.
Yeah, that’s what I’m going to be doing this evening is composing this mitigation packet, so it’ll be the letter. I have some school transcripts, some pictures, some evidence of participation in different education programs, again so that the prosecutor understands, “Listen, this person is different from your run-of-the-mill person that you’re normally dealing with,” and so if I’m trying to get them to do something that’s outside of the norm, I need to show them a reason why they should go outside the norm, if that makes sense. Yeah, hopefully it doesn’t have me here too late because I have court in the morning. We have what’s called a “readiness conference” so we can figure out whether the case is going to settle or if it needs to go to trial, so that’s the day.
We’re In A Whole New World Now
Yeah, I hope everyone is doing well. I know the pandemic has been rough on everybody. We’re in a whole new world now. Before the pandemic, I was dj’ing four or five nights a week, teaching, and then also having my law practice. Obviously, the DJ gigs completely dried up. I did a couple of virtual parties over Zoom and that was pretty fun. That was pretty fun, but it’s not the same as being able to rock a party in person and there’s the whole thing of missing friends and family, like not being able to be around my friends that have young children. They’re concerned about their kids’ health and naturally so.
Seeing bars and restaurants and all kinds of businesses shut down. We’re here in San Diego. If you walk the streets of downtown, you’ll just see so many businesses are boarded up now and for lease signs, for rent signs. It’s just sad to see how many businesses are no longer with us. I’m certainly sensitive to that and grateful that we’re still in business and that people continue to seek us out to help them in their time of need. But yeah, if you’re in one of those industries that has been decimated, I certainly wish you the best of luck and success in your journey, in being able to pivot. I hope you and your families are well.
I promise not to take so much time in-between videos next time, but I also want to invite you to leave in the comments section, if there’s anything that you want me to shoot a video about, I will try and get to it. I’ll try it. I’ll try and get to the topic when there are multiple people talking about the same thing, or asking about the same thing, then I’ll see that it’s a topic that everybody could benefit from and shoot a video on it. That’s about it. All right, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day and I will talk to you soon. Peace.