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The Law Offices of Donald A. Nobles provides the following answers to questions we frequently encounter in our criminal defense practice in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano County and throughout the East Bay. If you have other questions or need advice and representation in a particular matter, call our Walnut Creek office for immediate assistance.

Q. When can I refuse to allow a search?

A. In most cases, the government must have a warrant or probable cause to search, but in some cases they only need to meet a lower standard of reasonable suspicion. There are also many exceptions to the warrant requirement, so a lot depends upon whether the search is of you, your car, your home or other property, and all of the circumstances surrounding the search. If the police tell you they have the right to search, you do not want to stand in their way or try to obstruct them. That will only get you in trouble. Instead, tell your California criminal defense attorney about the circumstances in which the search was conducted. If the search was unlawful or exceeded its lawful scope, your attorney will move to have the evidence suppressed or maybe have the entire case dismissed before trial.

One time when you may refuse to allow a search is when the police ask for your consent. The police could ask your consent to search even if they do not have a warrant or probable cause, and if you give them permission, anything they find can be used against you. The police may ask to look around as a matter of course, and you may feel like you want to cooperate and get along by granting them permission. This is rarely a good idea. Instead, you should politely but firmly refuse consent. If the police press the matter, let them know you would like to talk to your lawyer first; then call our office for advice.

Q. What should I do if I have been arrested?

A. For most of us, being placed under arrest is frightening, intimidating, and extremely stressful. You feel powerless and totally at the mercy of the authorities. The way to level the playing field is by hiring an experienced and capable criminal law attorney who will be on your side and can let you know what your rights are and what to expect.

As soon as you are arrested, the first thing you should do is request to speak with an attorney and to politely refuse to answer any questions until you have done so. Until you have spoken to an attorney, you should not talk to the police, prosecutors, other inmates in the holding cell, or anybody else. This is the surest way to protect your vital constitutional rights and make sure that you do not say or do anything which can jeopardize your best chances in your case.

Q. Is there any way to get a conviction taken off my record?

A. Yes, there are many approaches to records clearance or expungement that may be applicable to your situation. For instance, you may be eligible for a dismissal of conviction following probation or a certificate of rehabilitation. It is even possible to be removed from the sex offender registry, which is normally a lifetime requirement. We can help you with records clearance, as well as options to keep your record clear in the first place, such as a deferred entry of judgment. Whatever the situation you are in, contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney for advice and assistance.

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