Santa Ana Criminal Lawyer

Law Offices of Frances Prizzia
Santa Ana Criminal Lawyer

Facing criminal allegations or being arrested in California can turn your world upside down. You may feel alone or anxious trying to figure out what to do next. You do not have to face the legal system alone, however. With the help of a competent, dedicated Santa Ana Criminal Lawyer, you can build a case that gives you the best chance of reaching a preferable outcome, allowing you to get on with your life in the best way possible.

With so much at stake, you need the right legal team that listens to you and aggressively fights on your behalf. The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia has over a decade of experience handling criminal cases, always taking a hands-on approach. Fluent in English, Spanish, and Tagalog, she stands out among the criminal defense attorneys in Santa Ana and can help build a strong case on your behalf.

Choose An Experienced Santa Ana Criminal Lawyer To Help You With Your Case

Experienced criminal defense lawyer

Attempting to represent yourself and navigating the intentionally complex California criminal justice system can be frightening and overwhelming. It can cause you to give up hope too soon.

While criminal charges affect you in the present, a conviction can also follow you into your future, affecting other aspects of your life, such as employment. You need a knowledgeable attorney who doesn’t back down to the intimidations of others and always keeps your interests, rights, and freedoms front and center.

Your first step in fighting criminal charges is choosing an experienced Santa Ana Criminal Lawyer to be in your corner.

This experienced criminal defense attorney will spend time examining evidence for your case with an eye out for any inconsistencies, omissions, and weaknesses. From there, skills in negotiation and litigation will be paramount.

Criminal defense attorney Frances-Marie Prizzia has dedicated the last decade to helping people just like you, prioritizing constitutional rights and diligently defending them. You can count on her law firm for compassionate, aggressive representation in all criminal defense matters.

Whether you are experiencing the criminal justice system for the first time or have a previous criminal record, you deserve a chance. That best chance starts with the hiring of the right criminal defense attorney in Santa Ana CA.

California Criminal Law Facts

California experiences its share of criminal acts, and those acts are well-documented. However, inconsistencies in how those facts are reported, gathered, analyzed, and stored leave many questions unanswered. Still, for 2021, the following California criminal facts can present a picture of the realities we face.

  • Roughly 793,000 total arrests occurred in California.
  • Approximately 525,000 of those arrests were for misdemeanors, with one in four of these being for drug offenses.
  • Nearly 267,000 arrests on felonies occurred, with violent offenses being the highest.

Of the 2021 felony arrests across the state, 62% resulted in some type of conviction. The most frequent sentencing for these has been a year or less in jail and probation. For others, incarceration at a state institution occurred. However, incarceration sentences saw a sharp decrease between 2020 and 2021, from 21.2% down to 19.7%.

(See source section for links)

Type of Violations in California

Criminal violations in California fall into three unique categories, each with its own potential criminal penalties, which include fines, jail time, prison, or a combination of these.



The lesser of the three violations, infractions are most often punishable with a fine, and no additional restrictions or jail time required. The most common of these offenses are traffic violations, such as speeding tickets or failure to yield. Still, they can result in points against your license and driving privileges (e.g., suspended license), so consider whether seeking legal advice will benefit your circumstances.


Misdemeanors, while not as serious as felonies, can still carry serious consequences. Penalties often include community service, probation, fines, jail time, or a combination. The most common types of misdemeanor criminal charges include petty theft, assault, and some domestic violence and DUI charges.



The most serious criminal offense is a felony. Individuals convicted of a felony may face over a year in prison, steep fines, parole or probation, and other potential penalties. Felony cases typically include vehicular manslaughter and the sale of a controlled substance,

Certain felonies are classified as violent, serious, or both, including assault with intent to commit robbery, residential burglary, rape, and murder. Sentencing for these will depend on the crime itself, the criminal history of the offender, and the court’s discretion.

The Criminal Justice System and Defense Process

Not knowing what will happen after an arrest can be stressful and frightening. Here is a breakdown of the criminal defense process.

The Arrest

The arrest

Your arrest will typically occur by the highway patrol, county deputies, or city police officers, upon which you will be transported to a county jail for holding. For example, if you are arrested in Santa Ana, you may be held at the Santa Ana Police Jail, Central Men’s Jail, Central Women’s Jail, or the Theo Lacy Facility. From here, you can be released if the decision is made not to file charges, or you can post bail. Otherwise, you will stay in jail until formal charges can be brought.

Formal Charges

After reviewing law enforcement reports, a prosecuting attorney determines whether to file charges and, if so, what charges to file. At this stage, that prosecutor can file charges for all the crimes you were arrested for, limit those charges, or add more. By law, you have a right to a speedy trial, so the prosecutor must file the formal charges within 48 hours following your arrest. Your defense attorney can make sure this occurs.

The Arraignment

The arraignment

Your first court appearance is called the arraignment. You will learn what the charges against you are and your constitutional rights. Also, if you cannot afford legal representation, the court will appoint one.

As the criminal defendant, you may first enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest) at this stage. Consider speaking with a defense attorney before doing so, however.

If you are still in custody during the arraignment, the judge can set bail, refuse bail, or release you on your “own recognizance” with the promise that you will return on the scheduled court date.

The Preliminary Hearing

After the arraignment, with the help of a criminal defense lawyer, there is the potential for reaching a resolution, such as a settlement or dismissal. If neither occurs, the judge will hold a preliminary hearing to determine if enough evidence is present to continue to trial. A trial date will then be set.

The Jury Trial

The jury trial

For those charged with a felony or misdemeanor, there is a right to go before a jury of their peers. You and your attorney must discuss whether a jury trial is in your best interests. If so, the jury selection process is conducted before the trial begins. Your attorney will be instrumental in helping to pick this jury.

Once the jury is selected and seated, attorneys on both sides can present an opening statement, followed by witness testimony and presentation of evidence. Closing arguments bring the trial to a close before placing the verdict decision in the jury’s hands.


If a jury finds you guilty, you will then receive your sentence. Your legal team can file an appeal, which is not a new trial but a review of all the evidence by an appellate court. This court will look at everything presented in the original jury trial and attempt to identify any legal errors in receiving that evidence, both testimony and exhibits.

What You Should Do After an Arrest in Santa Ana, OC

What you should do after an arrest

If you do find yourself being arrested in Santa Ana or the surrounding areas in Southern California, try your best to do the following.

  • Keep quiet. The less you say out loud, the better it will be for your case. Remember, anything you do say can be potentially used against you in court. Only provide your name and possibly your address and birthdate, but do not answer any other questions.
  • Try to remain calm and respectful, even though you may feel anything but these.
  • Request a criminal defense lawyer, or ask that your legal counsel be contacted.
  • Avoid submitting to any requested testing at this time. Wait until you have legal representation.
  • Do your best to remember important information, such as witness names and contact data, the names and badge numbers of arresting officers, and the details of the arrest. You must share these with your attorney so they can investigate and build your case.

Our Criminal Defense Practice Areas

Widely versed in criminal law, The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia can provide you with representation in the following criminal defense practice areas.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence charges often occur due to emotionally-charged situations, where allegations can be made against you that can lead to jail time and a felony charge. The most common allegations are injury or threat of injury to a spouse, another family, or a household member. These types of claims will require thorough investigations by law enforcement. You need an attorney to ensure all proper protocols and laws are adhered to, your legal rights are not violated, and you receive legal representation.

Drug Crimes

Drug crimes in California receive a lot of attention, with law enforcement and prosecutors striving to convict. These crimes involve distributing, selling, manufacturing, and possessing controlled substances, which are prohibitive by statute in California. Penalties for drug crimes upon criminal conviction can be serious, including high fines and prison or jail time.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Driving under the influence

Santa Ana, Orange County, and surrounding areas in Southern California see a high number of driving under the influence charges. If your BAC is .08 or higher, you face charges that can result in heavy fines, potential jail time, and loss of your driving privileges. Our criminal defense law firm knows how to defend you against these charges and will seek lighter sentences, criminal charge reductions, and more, depending on your circumstances.

Violent Crimes

Allegations of causing or threatening harm to another individual can result in a violent crime charge. These crimes include assault, battery, rape, and murder, as well as others. Violent crime convictions can bring with them serious penalties, with prosecutors diligently seeking the maximum punishments possible. Being charged with a violent crime requires a special type of defense, so you will need an experienced attorney who can do this for you.

Theft Crimes

Theft crimes

Theft crimes involve the stealing or unlawful taking of someone else’s property, either by physically removing items or using deception or fraud to obtain something. Crimes often fall within this category include shoplifting, robbery, burglary, carjacking, and grand theft. Punishment can vary. You need an attorney skilled in the different defense strategies for theft crimes to build a strong defense and provide the representation you need.

Schedule an Initial Consultation With Our Criminal Defense Attorney at the Law Offices of Frances Prizzia

Initial consultation with our criminal defense attorney

Making mistakes is one thing; paying for them for the rest of your life is another. If you are arrested and facing criminal convictions, it is time to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Santa Ana Criminal Lawyer who will be in your corner and fight for your rights.

You can depend on the Law Offices of Frances Prizzia to provide you with the criminal defense lawyer you need when you need it most. For a free initial criminal case evaluation, contact our law firm today. We proudly serve clients in Newport Beach, as well as all of Southern California, including Los Angeles County, San Diego, and Ventura.

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5000 Birch Street, Suite 3000
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Why Choose
Frances Prizzia Criminal Defense Lawyers


Client Centered Approach

Our clients are our priority, we listen & have your best interests in mind. Our philosophy is that crime is simply a symptom of a bigger issue that should be addressed.

Reputation by Excellence

"Top 100 Trial Lawyers" by the National Trial Lawyers and Clients' Choice by Avvo.


Over 17+ Years of Criminal Defense Experience on your side.

Innovative & Determined

We think outside the box and never leave a stone unturned.

You're Not Just Another Client

You're in a difficult situation that requires attention. Our boutique legal team walks you through the legal process so you don't feel lost.


We are available 24/7 for emergencies & offer free confidential consultations.
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