Michele’s legal career, practicing exclusively criminal defense and DUI’s, spans almost 27 years. As early as her time in law school, Michele held an intern position, in the Sacramento County Public Defender’s office working in the Major Crimes Unit. That experience and exposure led to a position as a Deputy Public Defender initially supervising a DUI court, later representing juveniles in delinquency and dependency matters and ultimately defending adults charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses.
Michele continued her public defender role in Los Angeles County before transitioning into private practice. After being employed by a criminal defense firm working throughout Southern California and having the opportunity to contract with top DUI firms, Michele opened her own criminal defense practice in 1997.
Since that time, she has had the pleasure of representing a plethora of clients charged with a variety of offenses including but not limited to theft which includes petty theft, grand theft, embezzlement, burglary, (residential and commercial) auto burglary, carjacking, shoplifting, robbery, receiving stolen property, forgery and misappropriation of public funds, domestic violence, assault, battery, drug offenses such as simple possession of a controlled substance, possession for sales of controlled substances, transportation or sales of a controlled substance, cultivation of marijuana and manufacturing, under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, sex offenses, DUI’s, DMV proceedings, vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving and hit and run cases.
Michele’s expertise also extends to post conviction matters such as expungements, probation modifications and petitions to seal and destroy an arrest record, which can be critical these days. Obtaining employment is difficult enough. Having to disclose an arrest or wonder if a potential employer has discovered it may make the difference in getting the job or not. While only stringent conditions, such as being wrongfully arrested but not ultimately facing criminal charges, may give rise to the filing of a Petition to Seal and Destroy an Arrest Record, Michele has prevailed in having such Petitions granted by the court.
Michele also takes pride in maintaining established relationships with her clients due to her accessibility and open communication with them. She has an “open door” policy allowing her clients to drop by her office or simply text, email or call when they so desire. Michele personally handles all aspects of their case which creates a comfortable, reassuring environment for her clients. As one client echoed, “She made it easier to deal with the issue I had without added stress.” Much of Michele’s success is reflected in client online praises and accolades.
The breadth of Michele’s experience both in the public sector and in private practice lends to a unique perspective in her approach to her clients and their cases. From the inception of her career, Michele learned that whether a client is facing a misdemeanor, felony or traffic ticket, no case is insignificant. Whatever circumstances an individual might find themselves in within the criminal justice system, Michele is aware that it is probably the most momentous and stressful time of their life. Michele’s understanding and empathy for her client’s plight provides a sense of comfort and clarity for them. As a client remarked, “Your emotions are everywhere and the last thing you need is a lawyer talking down to you……...” Michele is the lawyer you pray to get. Michele has shown my boyfriend and I, not only her professional side but her compassionate side.”
While vigorously representing her clients, Michele has also done well to develop lasting professionalism and integrity with judges and prosecutors—benefits that are now passed on directly to her clients. In exhausting every option for a client, often times in preparation of a case, Michele will draft a Statement of Mitigation on her client’s behalf, a Statement addressed to the prosecuting attorney, and sometimes the court, which highlights a client’s personal attributes, life history and extenuating factors relative to the charges her client faces. Because of Michele’s diligent work effort and trustworthy relationships she holds, such Statement will usually assist in reaching a more reasoned and favorable result for her client.
Professionally, Michele is a member of the California Public Defenders Association, the California DUI Lawyers Association, The Esquire Network (TEN) and the Women’s Professional Business Group. Michele’s long term ties to the Pasadena community include her active participation in the Pasadena Rotary, San Gabriel Mountains and beyond Hiking group and the Pasadena Pacers. Michele is a lifelong athlete, regularly enjoying sports and physical activity. She otherwise supports her favorite philanthropy, El Nido Family Centers, through charitable contributions and pro bono legal advice.
Why Call Criminal Defense Attorney You Can Trust?
If you or your loved one have recently been charged with a crime in Pasadena, L.A. County, or anywhere throughout Southern California, depending on the specifics of the charge brought against you, you could face serious, long-term consequences if convicted. California law is stricter than most other states on a wide variety of DUI and other criminal offenses, and without the aid of an expert criminal defense lawyer, your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in court are greatly reduced.
Pasadena Criminal Attorney has served the community of Pasadena, California, and surrounding areas for many years across a wide range of practice areas, including: DUI, Domestic Violence, Drug Crimes, Sex Crimes, Fraud, Theft, and more. Our detailed knowledge of the California Penal and Vehicle Codes and great familiarity with local Pasadena and L.A. Area court processes have enabled us to consistently win the best possible outcome for our clients.
Contact us anytime 24/7 by calling 626-689-2277 for your free legal consultation. The sooner you call, the sooner we can get started on building you a winning case.
We Handle All Types Of Criminal Cases - Call For A Free Consultation Today.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Battery with Serious Bodily Injury
Battery on a Peace Officer
Violation of Restraining Order
DUI with Drugs
Evading an Officer
Hit and Run
Possession for Sale
Carrying a Loaded Firearm
Auto Insurance Fraud
Credit Card Fraud
Health Care Fraud
Real Estate Fraud
Unemployment Insurance Fraud
Workers Comp Fraud
Auto Burglary (GTA)
Receiving Stolen Property
California Penal Code Section 23152 defines a DUI as operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher, with a lesser BAC that nonetheless impairs your driving capabilities, or while intoxicated and impaired by any chemical substance (drug), be it an illegal narcotic, a prescription drug, or an over-the-counter drug. It further sets a BAC limit of .04% for commercial drivers and .01% ("Zero Tolerance") for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21.
It is important to understand that the DMV hearing is completely distinct from a DUI criminal hearing, which may follow. If you win your DMV hearing, it is possible (though not especially likely) you could still be prosecuted on the charge of DUI. If you lose your DMV hearing, your license will be suspended for at least 6 months; but you can still go on to challenge the DUI in court. Alternatively, you could accept a plea deal at the DMV hearing to get access to a restricted license, which allows you to drive to/from work and DUI Class.
As to the DUI criminal hearing, most DUIs in California are charged as misdemeanors. Aggravating factors, however, can raise the charge to a felony in extreme cases.
Here is a breakdown of the basic possible penalties:
- 1st DUI: Up to 6 months in county jail, a fine of $390 to $1,000, a 6 to 10 month license suspension, and 3 to 9 months of DUI Class.
- 2nd DUI: Up to 12 months in jail, a $390 to $1,000 fine, a two-year license suspension, and 18 to 30 months of DUI School.
- 3rd DUI: Up to 12 months of jail time, the $390 to $1,000 fine, a three-year license suspension, and 30 months of DUI School.
- 4th and Subsequent DUI, a felony charge: 16 months to 3 years in state prison, the $390 to $1,000 fine, a four-year license suspension, and up to 30 months of DUI School.
- Misdemeanor DUI-with-injury: Up to 12 months in jail, full restitution plus a fine of from $390 to $5,000, a 1 to 3 year license suspension, and 3 to 30 months of DUI School.
- Felony DUI-with-injury: 16 months to 16 years in state prison, full restitution plus a fine of $1,015 to $5,000, a five-year license suspension, and an 18 to 30 month DUI Class.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have a large repertoire of defense strategies we use in DUI cases, including:
- Poor driving does not prove DUI. Most traffic violations have nothing to do with DUI, and "driving pattern" is not a reliable way to identify DUI offenders, as even the NHTSA admits.
- Physical appearance does not prove DUI. Red eyes, slurring of speech, unsteady gait, and the alleged detection of alcohol in one's breath are often used by the prosecution, but in reality, there are other possible explanations to all of these "objective symptoms" of DUI.
- FSTs are often inconclusive. Fatigue, nervousness, weather, and medical conditions can all affect a suspect's performance of field sobriety tests. Additionally, the tests are not always administered properly by arresting officers.
- Mouth alcohol throws off breath tests. Residual alcohol from any source (including mouthwash and medicine) can cause a falsely high BAC result when breathalyzers are used.
- Still-rising BAC. If there was a significant time-gap between being pulled over and taking your BAC test, you could have had a lower BAC while behind the wheel than what test results showed.
- Ketones threw off the BAC reading. Those with diabetes, fasting, or on a high-protein or low-carb diet produce extra ketones, a substance similar to alcohol and some of which is exhaled in the breath. California breathalyzers can mistake ketones for ethyl alcohol.
Police violated protocols or your rights. If arresting officers violate California Title 17 when collecting and storing blood and breath samples, the resulting evidence will be suspect. And if police gathered evidence against you by an illegal search and seizure, stopped or arrested you without probable cause, or failed to read you your Miranda Rights, we can seek to have that evidence declared inadmissible, which will usually make the prosecution's task impossible.
Driving Related Crimes
Aside from DUI, other common driving-related crimes often charged in California courts include:
- Reckless Driving
California Vehicle Code Section 23103 concerns driving a vehicle with willful and extreme disregard for the safety of others. Typically, this involves excessive speeding, running red lights, and weaving wildly between lanes.
A conviction can get you up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, and 2 points on your driving record, which will increase car insurance costs and could cause a license suspension. If an injury or death resulted, however, punishments increase greatly.
Lack of willful negligence and having a valid reason to break traffic laws (during an emergency) are possible defenses. But note that many DUIs receive lighter sentences if reduced to the charge of "wet reckless" (VC 23103.5) in a plea deal.
- Hit and Run
A "hit and run" accident is one in which a driver knowingly leaves the scene of an accident he/she was involved in without stopping to assist any injured parties and/or give the other driver his/her contact information.
VC 20001 covers hit and runs where an injury occurred, while VC 20002 is concerned with property damage only hit-and-runs. The former are punishable by up to 4 years in state prison and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000. The latter can be punished by 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Valid defenses include: you did not realize, nor "should" you have realized, that an accident had occurred, lack of injury or property damage to anyone but yourself and your own vehicle; and you could not stop because of an emergency situation or because it was not safe to stop at the time.
- Driving Without a License
Under Vehicle Code 12500a, driving on California motorways without a valid and current driver's license issued by your state of residence. The crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or an infraction. It is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
This crime is distinct from driving without a license in your immediate possession (VC 12951), which is a mere infraction and quickly dismissed once you prove you did have a valid license.
In many cases, if you can show you just moved to California and had not established residency yet, or if you quickly obtain a California driver's license, a good defense lawyer can get a VC 12500a charge reduced to an infraction or dismissed.
- Driving on a Suspended License
VC 14601 covers the crime of knowingly driving on a license suspended/revoked for negligent driving, disability, DUI, and other reasons. It is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by fines and jail time that vary based on the cause of the license's suspension, the defendant's driving record, and whether or not it is a repeat offense.
Commonly used defense strategies include:
- Lack of knowledge of the license being suspended.
- The suspension was a mistake or otherwise invalid.
- The driver possessed and was properly using a restricted license.
- Evading an Officer
VC 2800.1 criminalizes the willful attempt to flee from a pursuing police officer while you are driving a motor vehicle. The officer's vehicle must have displayed a lit red lamp, sounded a siren, and been "distinctively" marked; and the officer must have been wearing a "distinctive" uniform.
VC 2800.1 is a misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. VC 2800.2 addresses felony-level evading of an officer, and VC 2800.3 covers evasion of an officer causing injury/death.
Lack of intent to evade the pursuing officer and the lack of the officer's uniform or vehicle being properly marked are common defenses.
Assault & Battery
California Penal Code Section 240 covers "assault," which is the willful attempt to inflict bodily harm on another person; while PC 242 covers "battery," which is an assault carried through to the point that bodily contact of any kind is made with the victim.
Simple Assault is a misdemeanor, punishable by 6 months in county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, summary probation, and full restitution to the victim. Battery can be either a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by 6 months in jail, a $2,000 fine, formal probation, and full restitution. As a felony, it is punishable by up to 3 years in jail/prison, and a fine of from $2,000 to $10,000.
If aggravating circumstances such as use of a "deadly weapon," infliction of "serious" bodily injury, or causing the death of the victim are involved, punishments are correspondingly more severe.
Important defense strategies include: The defendant acted with the consent of the victim and without intent to harm him/her, the actions were accidental and thus not assault/battery, and the defendant was acting in self defense or in defense of another person.
"Domestic Violence," in California, occurs whenever an assault and/or battery offense is committed against a current or former spouse, fiancé, or other romantic partner. The crime also includes the issuing of threats of inflicting bodily harm on such a person.
the punishments for domestic violence crimes are more severe than for "ordinary" assault and battery, the violation of trust and the taking advantage of the relationship with the other person as an occasion to inflict or attempt to inflict harm being seen as factors that make the crime more serious in nature. Additionally, child endangerment and child abuse are often charged as domestic violence offenses as well, and the sentences can be very severe since children are involved.
The exact punishment for domestic violence varies greatly based on the exact offense, but long jail or prison terms and heavy fines are common sentencing elements. And a restraining order that disallows the perpetrator to come within a specified distance of the victim or to contact him/her is also standard.
Domestic violence is an extremely common offense in California, but it is also common to be falsely accused of this crime out of a spirit of revenge. Other times, the "victim" may actually be the true perpetrator. And still other times, the defendant had not intent of threatening/harming the victim (it was an accident or a misunderstanding). A good defense lawyer will be able to get many domestic violence charges dismissed or at least reduced.
Drug Related Crimes
In Pasadena and throughout California, drug crime charges are relatively common, and the California punishes them more severely than do many other states. Common drug crimes charges include:
- Possession of a controlled substance (HS 11350): To knowingly possess an illegal narcotic or to illegally possess a prescription drug is the least serious drug crime in California. It can still lead to serious consequences upon a conviction, but a good lawyer can often get the defendant into a drug diversion program if a conviction cannot be avoided altogether. Defenses include lack of knowledge of the controlled substance's presence or of its nature as a controlled substance or lack of sufficient quantity of the drug to make it "usable."
- Possession with intent to sell (HS 11351): When one not only possesses a controlled substance but also has an intention to sell it to others, the sentence will be more severe than for simple possession, potentially including 2 to 4 years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000. Prosecutors will rely on the presence of large quantities of a drug, of there being numerous separate bags of drugs, and of the defendant possessing large amounts of money in small bills; but none of these factors prove someone had an intent to sell. And a good defense lawyer can also find out if police used illegal means to obtain a warrant or engaged in searches and seizures without a warrant, possibly getting evidence against you declared inadmissible in court.
- Sale or transport of a controlled substance (HS 11352): The next most serious drug crime after possession with intent to sell is actually selling illegal drugs. Punishments may put people away in state prison for decades or for life if the quantities are large enough or if drugs were imported over state lines. Federal law may also apply in such cases. Many times, police violate entrapment laws during sting operations designed to catch drug dealers red-handed, and other times, they mistake buyers and those simply present at a drug house for being sellers. A defense lawyer with drug crimes experience can help get such charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser drug crime.
There are numerous types of fraud crimes, such as check fraud, credit card fraud, real estate and mortgage fraud, embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds, insurance fraud, and more. Each crime will have its own set of possible punishments, varying based on how much money was taken fraudulently, the defendant's past criminal history, and other pertinent factors.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have wide-ranging and deep experience will all manner of California fraud crimes. We also know how to successfully defend against related charges such as identity theft and elder abuse.
Being accused of a sex crime, even without a conviction, can permanently damage your reputation; but being convicted of a sex crime in California can put you on the state Sex Offenders registry, make it difficult for you to find gainful employment, force you to pay heavy fines, and send you to jail or prison for years. Clearly, it is in your best interests to obtain the best possible legal help without delay if any type of sex crime charge has been filed against you.
Examples of sex crimes include: rape, date rape, statutory rape, sexual battery, prostitution, soliciting a prostitute, possession of child pornography, sexual abuse of a child, lewd conduct, and more. Only a detailed knowledge of each of these specific crimes, including the elements the prosecution must prove and the best defense strategies in each type of case, will enable a lawyer to consistently win sex crimes defense cases.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we understand that many are falsely accused of sex crimes and that everyone should be provided a fair trial; thus, we do not "shy away from" these types of cases, as some other defense attorneys tend to do.
In California, there are a great variety of different theft crimes, but they mostly fall under one of two general categories (even if they also fall under additional categories): grand theft or petty theft.
"Grand Theft" (PC 487) is the wrongful taking of property from another person when the value of said property is more than $950. "Petty Theft" (PC 484 and 488) applies when the property stolen is valued at or below $950. However, stealing a firearm will be grand theft even if the gun is worth less than $950.
When a person enters a building with an intent to steal items located inside, it is classed as "burglary." If an "inhabited dwelling" is entered to commit a theft, punishments are generally more severe than for entering a place of business. And "shoplifting" (PC 459.5), or entering a business to commit burglary while that business is open is treated less severely than if the commercial establishment were closed at the time of entry.
"Robbery" occurs when property is taken directly off the person of another, by force or by threat. This includes taking property from off a person's clothes or out of a container he/she is holding just as surely as out of a person's hands.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have many defenses we use against theft charges, such as: mistaken identity, false accusations, lack of intent to steal, and genuine belief that the property was your own. We also have well seasoned negotiation skills and can often get such plea bargain reductions as from grand theft to petty theft or from burglary to breaking and entering.