Aggressive, Dedicated & Compassionate
Criminal Defense

There is a lot at stake if you are convicted. Learn how our hands-on legal team may be able to help you.



The criminal justice system is very complex, and the Orange County criminal courts are no exception. If you are facing a trial or have criminal charges against you, you will need a criminal lawyer who knows the ropes and is committed to protecting your rights.

Here's what you need to know if you’ve been arrested for a crime.

Secure Legal Representation From an Orange County Criminal Lawyer

When you are looking for legal representation, not just any attorney will do. You need to find a criminal defense law firm and hire a criminal lawyer with experience handling criminal cases.

The Orange County criminal justice system is tough. One misstep and you could find yourself behind bars, paying fines, or losing your driver's license – depending on the crime, of course. You don't want to play around to determine whether you need an attorney. You want to hire them as quickly as possible so they can begin working on your case right away.

Let's face it, there are law offices that offer pro bono services, but this is your life. Your best bet is to invest in yourself and get the quality representation you can rely on. At The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia, we are one of the top firms in Orange County, and we will fight for you.

California Criminal Law Facts

In California, a crime is any act omitted or committed that violates a law that either commands or forbids it. When this act is carried out, and a crime is therefore committed, the punishment is one or more of the following penalties:
  • Imprisonment;
  • Fine;
  • Community service;
  • Loss of license (driver's license or professional license);
  • Removal from a public office;
  • Death; or
  • Disqualification to hold any office in California that is of trust, honor, or profit.

Criminal legal issues in Orange County and all counties in California are handled in the local state court. However, some felony cases and certain crimes are heard in federal court. Juvenile crimes are heard in juvenile court.

Call us about your case today at
(714) 362-0157 for a
Free Confidential Consultation.

The Criminal Defense Process In Orange County

An individual is arrested and informed of the criminal charges against them. At this point in the criminal law process, the accused should hire an experienced criminal lawyer to represent them.

The legal system in Orange County can be tough to navigate, so solid legal representation is a must. As soon as the attorney gets the case, they begin their own investigation. This may include reviewing police reports, talking to witnesses, and asking the accused questions about the crime. As they get information, they begin to build a defense that will allow them to get their client the best possible outcome for their case.

The Arrest

Every criminal case begins with an arrest. This means that police officers either come to the person, happen upon them via an official interaction such as a traffic stop, or the person goes to the police department and turns themselves in. Either way, the person is usually restrained and read their Miranda rights.

By law, the arresting officer is required to read the person their Miranda rights prior to questioning during or after they are being arrested. Not doing so could potentially cause issues in the prosecution's case.

Formal Charges

Once an individual is arrested, the police agency sends the reports to the prosecuting agency with recommendations about the charges that should be filed. The prosecuting attorney determines the formal charges once he or she has reviewed the alleged crime, looks over police reports, reads witness statements, and looks at the specifics of the crime – or determines if there even was a crime. Once this review is completed, the prosecuting attorney then either rejects the case, returns it to the police agency for further investigation or files formal charges in court at which time an arraignment date is set for the accused.

Therefore it is imperative to obtain the best legal representation as soon as possible to avoid having criminal charges filed.

The Arraignment

The first time the defendant appears after their arrest is at the arraignment. This is where the judge informs the defendant of the charges against them, their constitutional rights, and that the court will appoint a lawyer for them, free of charge if they can't afford one. The defendant may then enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. At that point, the defendant may be released on their own recognizance, have their bail set, or be denied bail.

They must agree to make the next court date if they get out on their recognizance or bail. A criminal defense attorney can often help get the defendant out of jail by being released or making bail.

The Preliminary Hearing

In California, the preliminary hearing is a pre-trial hearing held to determine if the prosecution has enough evidence to warrant pursuing a criminal case. This is not a jury trial. Only the judge is present.

If it is determined that there is enough evidence for a criminal case to proceed, the trial lawyer may sometimes meet with the prosecution to discuss a plea bargain.

The Jury Trial

If the case proceeds, a criminal trial with a jury will occur. The jury sits through the trial, hears the witnesses, and sees the evidence, allowing them to decide to enter a not guilty or guilty verdict.

The twelve members of the jury must deliberate and vote on the verdict. If the jury cannot agree on the verdict, it is a hung jury. The judge may declare a mistrial which means that the defendant is not guilty, but they aren't guilty (exonerated) either.


If the defendant is found guilty, he can appeal the decision by moving it to a higher court. The case can go all the way to the state supreme court. The defendant's legal counsel can file an appeal as soon as the trial is over. The defendant cannot file an appeal simply because he does not like the verdict. They must either show that the prosecution lacked adequate evidence to justify the judgment or verdict or that mistakes of law were made at some point before or during the trial.

Felony cases have 60 days after the judgment to file a Notice of Appeal, while misdemeanor cases have just 30 days.
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Our Award-Winning Orange County Criminal Attorney

Frances-Marie Angeles Prizzia
Founding Attorney
Attorney Prizzia dedicates her law practice to upholding the constitutional rights of her clients and zealously defending them. Her passion has always been in criminal defense and public service, as evidenced by her childhood experience, prior work, and volunteer history.
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What You Should Do After an Arrest in Orange County

Getting arrested is an upsetting and often scary experience. There are a few things you can do, though, to make it a little easier on you at the moment and once you get to trial:

Don't talk

Don't try to talk your way out of it or explain anything, even if you are innocent. Just close your mouth and don't say anything about the case. Anything you say can be used to prosecute you in court.

Get an attorney

Find a law firm that specializes in criminal cases. If you can, go to the attorney's office or have them come to you so that you can discuss your strategy for court.

Don't fight or try to run away

Doing so can bring an added charge of resisting arrest.

Make notes about the arrest

Write down everything you can remember so you can give it to your attorney. Ensure you look for discrepancies, such as failure to read your rights.

Don't discuss your case with anyone,
not even your friends or family

Your lawyer is the only person you need to talk with about your case. If you speak to someone else, that person could be used as a witness to testify against you.
Working with your attorney is integral to the outcome of your face.

Possible Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in Orange County

When the judge and jury find the defendant guilty, they are said to be convicted. They may have to return to the courtroom for sentencing. During that time, the judge will determine the appropriate penalties for the defendant who committed the crime. Those punishments may include:
  • Jail time;
  • Fines;
  • The crime included in the defendant's criminal record;
  • Loss of professional license;
  • Loss of driver's license;
  • House arrest;
  • Community service;
  • Probation;
  • Requirement to sign up with the sex offender registry; or
  • Appeal.
The defendant’s attorney may be able to negotiate some punishments.

Our law office in Orange County is ready to take on your case. No matter what point you are in the process, we are here to help protect your rights and get the most favorable outcome for your case.

Common Legal Defenses

Some legal defenses are common for most crimes. But your attorney will base your defense strategy on the particulars of your case. For instance, a DUI defense may be that you weren't operating the vehicle or that the breathalyzer was not working properly. You may defend a theft charge by claiming to be falsely accused or mistaken identity.

One of the common strategies that criminal defense attorneys use is to attack the legal process, evidence gathering, or equipment used to get the charges for the arrest. Illegal search and seizure is a common defense, but many others exist. It all depends on the case.

Benefits of Hiring Experienced Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyers

Criminal defense law requires an experienced attorney specializing in criminal law and has spent much of their legal career focusing on it. The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Frances Prizzia have extensive experience in criminal law. Still, they are also passionate about serving their clients and helping them get good outcomes on their cases.

For other attorneys, it's just a paycheck, just another job, but for our Orange County law firm, it is our passion, and we are committed to our clients from start to finish.

Contact the Law Offices of Frances Prizzia Orange County Criminal Lawyer to Schedule an Initial Consultation

The California criminal court system is not for the faint of heart. A lot is going on, and having a legal team who knows how to handle it is important.
Suppose you are in Orange County, CA, San Bernardino County. We're here for you in Los Angeles County, Riverside County, or Southern California.

We're not like other law firms. Our criminal defense team has an exceptional track record and plenty of satisfied clients to show for it. We're a small, private practice, so we can give you more attention than many larger firms can.

So call The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia today and schedule your free consultation. You have rights, even in criminal court. It's our job to make sure they stay protected.

Call us about your case today at
(714) 362-0157 for a
Free Confidential Consultation.

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.

Record of Success

Take A Look At Our Most Recent Criminal Defense Victories
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Client Testimonials

“I was impressed with the level of customer care and outstanding work keeping me informed”
-Nan B.
“Successfully defended my case and protected my professional standing”
-Marc K.
“No mere words can describe my gratitude for Ms. Frances assistance”
-Honey S.
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