Criminal Defense Overview

Criminal Defense Lawyer San Diego

Have you or a loved one been charged with a crime? If so, it’s smart to consult with a criminal defense attorney who can help you understand the charges, navigate the legal system, and mount a defense. At the Ezquerro Law Group offices in San Diego, we represent clients for a broad range of charges, outlined below. To learn more beyond the information here, call our offices at (619)558-1058, or reach out online to schedule a consultation today.


Fernanda Ezquerro is a criminal attorney in San Diego

What Does A Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?

The criminal justice system in California is a complex one. A criminal defense lawyer performs a number of tasks for their clients:

  • Research case facts
  • Investigate aspects of the case
  • Negotiate with prosecutors
  • Evaluate and question witnesses
  • Prepare pleas
  • Provide advice and present the defendant’s point of view during trial
  • Counsel the defendant on sentencing

The defense attorney’s main goal in every stage of the process is to do everything in their power to increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome for the client, as well as to make sure the client understands what’s happening.

Get to know us.


Driving under the influence of alcohol (AKA DUI) is against the California Vehicle Code. You can be charged with a DUI based on your behavior behind the wheel, circumstantial evidence at the time of being stopped, and your tested blood alcohol level.

Driving under the influence of alcohol

For our DUI clients, we attempt to reduce charges, negotiate lighter penalties, and help them keep their licenses (see DMV administrative hearing below).

Driving under the influence of drugs

Just like driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of drugs is also not permitted. We try to better define the word “drugs” in our clients’ cases to get charges dropped or reduced and lessen the consequences in case of a conviction.

Underage drinking

Underage drinking (consuming alcohol under the age of 21) is often part of DUI charges. We do our best to reduce the long-term disruption of this for our clients and to prevent the recurrence of this type of charge.

Multiple DUI

Multiple DUIs can mean stiffer penalties for those convicted. One of our criminal defense strategies against multiple DUIs is to try to remove previous DUIs from the record in order to reduce penalties.

Bench warrant

A bench warrant means a judge has issued a warrant for your arrest for failing to pay DUI fines or failing to appear (FTA) in court. We recommend working with a defense attorney to either remove a bench warrant or lessen the consequences of the violations that prompted the warrant.

DMV administrative hearing

A DMV administrative hearing occurs with DUI cases to decide if the convicted party should retain or lose their driver’s license. It’s always best to attend these hearings with an attorney, as there are ways to reduce the severity of or prevent license suspension.

Driving on a suspended license

Driving on a suspended license comes with serious penalties, including jail time, in California. Sometimes there are ways to reduce the charges, lighten the penalties, or even drop the charges altogether.

Violent Crimes

Violent crimes always carry significant penalties in California, such as incarceration. It’s absolutely essential to hire a criminal defense attorney when you have been charged with a violent crime.

Assault and battery

Assault and battery are usually charged together. Assault is an act that threatens immediate harm to the victim, while battery is the act that causes physical harm.

Murder, attempted murder, and manslaughter

Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, and there are various degrees of murder in the eyes of the law, based on factors like premeditation and depravity. Attempted murder is charged if someone takes steps towards murder with the intent to kill. Manslaughter is murder without malice aforethought, a crime that occurs on the spot without planning.


Robbery means taking property from another by using fear or force. It doesn’t matter what the value of the property is. Robbery can contribute to the Three Strikes law (see below) that gives harsher sentences to those who commit multiple crimes.

Kidnapping and false imprisonment

False imprisonment is the crime of holding someone against their will. A good example of this is holding hostages during a bank robbery. Kidnapping also involves holding someone against their will, but first the party is abducted and taken to another location.

Criminal threats

Making a criminal threat means threatening to harm or kill another person. This can result in that person fearing for their safety or the safety of their family. The threat must be specific and unequivocal and can be delivered verbally, in writing, or via an electronic device.

Gang crimes and allegations

Gang crimes can be any number of violent crimes committed as part of a gang, such as assault, homicide, drug dealing, kidnapping, and auto theft. California is known for being extremely intolerant of gang crimes, so it’s vital to work with a criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with gang crimes.

Resisting arrest

If you interfere with a law enforcement officer’s attempt to perform a lawful arrest, that is considered resisting arrest. This crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

Three Strikes

Implemented in 1994, California’s Three Strikes law allows courts to give convicted serious criminals stricter sentencing. If you are in danger of violating this law, you should consult with an attorney to do what you can to reduce penalties.

Theft Cases

Theft is taking someone else’s property as part of an intentional act.

Petty theft

Petty theft is another term for shoplifting or stealing something from a store. In California, the goods stolen must be less than $950 to be considered petty theft.


Burglary is unlawfully entering a business or residence with the intention of stealing property there. Burglary can be residential (first-degree burglary) or commercial (second-degree burglary).

Auto theft

Auto theft is, as the name implies, stealing a car. There are different types of auto theft, including grand theft auto, carjacking, and joyriding.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence crimes are those involving harm to someone who is a spouse, partner, former spouse, or former partner.

Restraining orders

There are different types of restraining orders, also known as protective orders. You can be charged for violating a restraining order that forbids you from harassing, contacting, or going near another person.

Criminal protective orders

A criminal protective order is issued by a judge to a victim of or a witness to a crime, in this case, involving domestic violence. Like with restraining orders, it is a crime to violate criminal protective orders (CPOs).


An expungement is a process by which an arrest or conviction is sealed or erased. Sometimes this is known as “setting aside a criminal conviction.” We often work with clients who want crimes expunged from their records.

Sex Crimes

You definitely want to work with a criminal defense lawyer if you are accused of a sex crime. These crimes can include sexual battery, rape, indecent exposure, prostitution, statutory rape, or sexual abuse of a child.


Marring, defacing, blemishing, damaging, or destroying someone else’s property is considered vandalism if it is done with intent.

Drug Crimes

There are many different types of drug crimes involving dozens of recreational and prescription drugs.

Sales and distribution

It is illegal in California to sell or distribute controlled substances such as cocaine, heroin, opiates and opiate derivatives, and some hallucinogenic substances. There are similar laws governing the sales and distribution of marijuana.


Moving controlled substances from one location to another is considered drug transportation. This is illegal in the state of California, regardless of the vehicle used.

Illegal possession

It can be illegal in California to possess many drugs, including heroin, cocaine, controlled substances (opiates), LSD, and methamphetamine. Even possessing marijuana, without using it medicinally, can be a crime.


Conspiracy charges usually cover a range of crimes. Drug possession, distribution, and trafficking can be considered a conspiracy when it is part of a larger plan. It may also involve money laundering or fraud.

Dispensary defense

California’s marijuana laws are confusing and often even contradictory. We offer defense services for dispensaries that find themselves caught in the middle.

Treatment and diversion programs

Drug treatment and diversion programs are available for first-time offenders. You may qualify for one of these programs, and a criminal defense attorney can help you with this.

Vet and military diversion

There are special diversion programs for veterans and military personnel. A good lawyer can help you get the program you need to stay clean and stay out of prison.

White Collar Crime

White collar crimes involve intentional deceit in which there is no force or threat involved.


Embezzlement is a type of fraud involving betrayal of financial trust. For example, an employee can embezzle funds from their employer by stealing from the payroll or an expense account.

Mortgage fraud

There are several types of mortgage fraud. The two most common are falsifying documents used to obtain a mortgage (crime against the lender) and mortgage lenders providing unlawful loans (crime against the person taking out the mortgage).

Bank fraud

Bank fraud is illegally obtaining funds from a financial institution through deception or illegal access. Examples include check theft, counterfeiting, forgery, identity theft, direct deposit fraud, and payment fraud.

Health care fraud

Health care fraud is turning a profit by dishonestly filing health care claims.

Credit card fraud

There are numerous penal code sections devoted to credit card fraud. This type of criminal activity includes identity theft, mail theft, unlawful access card activity, receiving stolen property, false financial statement, and perjury.

Computer fraud

Computer fraud is simply fraudulent activity conducted using a computer, usually over the internet.

Mail or wire fraud

Any fraudulent activity that involves the US Postal Service or interstate mail is considered mail fraud. This includes Ponzi schemes and mail order fraud.

Insurance fraud

Providing false information to an insurance company to get money or services is considered insurance fraud. Insurance fraud has increased in California in recent years, and therefore criminal courts are coming down hard on violators.

Restoring Gun Rights

If you have been forbidden to possess a firearm in California, restoring your gun rights will likely involve working with a criminal defense lawyer. We normally either try to get a felony reduced to a misdemeanor or a gubernatorial pardon to accomplish this.

Prop 64 and 67

[Note from the writer: I’m leaving this section blank, as I cannot figure out how a criminal defense attorney would be involved in these referenda.]

Certificates of Rehabilitation and Governor’s Pardons

We work with clients on certificates of rehabilitations and governor’s pardons in serious cases. This allows clients to improve their lives, restore rights, and remove some reporting requirements.

Criminal Law attorney in San Diego



Looking for an affordable criminal defense attorney San Diego

Fight Back and Protect Your Rights with Ezquerro, a Dedicated Criminal Defense Lawyer!

As you can see from the list above, there are many instances where working with a criminal defense attorney can be beneficial in obtaining the best possible outcome when charged with a crime. Ezquerro will also make sure your rights are protected in every case. Call our San Diego law offices today at +1 619-485-8150, or contact us online to set up a consultation.

Driving Under the Influence

Business Law & Social Offence

Violent Crimes

Family Law


Civil Disopedience & Social Offnce


Ezquerro Law Group