Costa Mesa Criminal Defense Lawyer

Law Offices of Frances Prizzia
Costa Mesa criminal defense attorney

A criminal conviction on your record can follow you for the rest of your life. It can impact your job opportunities, your ability to get housing, and even who you are allowed to live with. That’s why having an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential.

You may think we're all the same if you've already searched for Costa Mesa criminal lawyers. We aren't. At The Law Office of Frances Prizzia, a few things set us apart. We offer professional, knowledgeable legal representation, but at the same time are supportive and responsive. Communication is key to the attorney-client relationship, and we believe it is one of the foundational building blocks of a successful case.

Whether you’ve been arrested on a misdemeanor charge for a first-time DUI or are facing a felony conviction for drug charges, we can help.  Our goal is to protect your rights and get you a favorable outcome for your case. That may mean getting a charge reduced, avoiding jail time, or negotiating plea deals. Whatever the case, we’re here for you and we will fight for you.

Secure Legal Representation from a Costa Mesa Criminal Defense Attorney

Secure legal representation

Criminal law is a very complex practice. There are a lot of components that may be similar in various cases but are never exactly the same. Every case is different. Having a criminal defense attorney who understands that is essential.

At The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia, we understand that there are no cookie-cutter cases, so we tailor our defense strategies to each unique case, paying close attention to the nuances that make it different. It is that attention to detail that puts us on top. So when you’re looking for an aggressive criminal defense lawyer, see us first.

Our experienced, knowledgeable, skilled team of criminal defense attorneys will fight for you and work hard to represent you and ensure your rights are protected. We're the smart choice when you need a defense attorney in Costa Mesa.

The Basics of Criminal Law in Costa Mesa, CA

In any criminal case where prison or jail time is possible, the defendant has the right to legal representation. If the defendant is unable to afford a criminal defense lawyer, the court will appoint a public defender to represent them. They do not have to pay for the services of the public defender.

This right does not come with most infractions, but if the defendant wishes to be represented by an attorney, they are certainly free to do so. They will have to pay for those services, though.

In court, a defendant is presumed innocent until the prosecuting attorney proves that he is guilty.

This is because criminal defense law is extremely complicated. Criminal defense attorneys have the education and experience to understand how the system works. They can look at a case and know the options that a defendant has as well as the probable outcomes of those options.

That is the value of professional legal representation. If you’ve been arrested, you need a lawyer.

Our Criminal Defense Practice Areas

At The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia, we handle many criminal cases, including theft, drug charges, and DUI crimes. Our legal team also defends individuals charged with more serious crimes, such as white-collar crimes, sexual assault, and murder.

Most of the criminal defense cases we provide legal counsel for tend to fall under several main categories.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence

One individual commits domestic violence crimes against an intimate partner such as a spouse, former spouse, someone they are or were dating, or the parent of their child. These crimes can include physical violence, sexual assault, child abuse, child endangerment, threats, and stalking.

Drug Crimes

Drug crimes

California classifies drug offenses as either misdemeanors or felonies. Three elements largely influence this classification: Quantity that the defendant had in his possession, the substance's scheduling, and the intended use of the substance.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

DUI is the crime of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% unless the driver is younger than 21 years old, then it is 0.01%. Officers can administer a field sobriety test at the scene, but refusing it before an arrest is legal. Once arrested, the accused can be forced to take a blood test to determine BAC.

Violent Crimes

Violent crimes

Just about any crime can become violent when an aggravating factor is introduced, such as a firearm or physical force, or anything that increases the risk of severe injury or death to the victim. However, crimes like carjacking, murder, kidnapping, manslaughter, and arson are traditionally considered to be violent crimes in and of themselves.

Theft Crimes

Theft crimes can run the gamut from misdemeanor shoplifting charges and petty theft (loss of up to $950) to felony charges of grand theft auto and burglary. Theft is a common crime in most areas, so prosecutors tend to go after defendants to "clean up" their community.

What You Should Do After an Arrest in Costa Mesa, CA

What should you do after an arrest

Getting arrested can be an absolutely terrifying experience. If you are arrested, don't let fear and panic take over. Remain calm and cooperate with the police, but don't talk. Don't try to talk your way out of the arrest, and don't try to resist or run away.

Politely ask for your attorney and then be quiet. Don't let the officers question you or get information out of you. Anything you say can be used against you when you go to court.

Instead, quietly pay attention to everything going on around you. Make a note of things the officers say and do regarding your arrest. Did they read you your Miranda rights? Did they search your property illegally? Relay all this information to your attorney at your initial meeting.

The Criminal Defense Process in Costa Mesa

Our Costa Mesa criminal defense lawyers work closely with our clients to advise and defend them at all stages of the criminal defense process.

Arrest and Booking – When an individual is arrested, the first thing he should ask for is to speak with their attorney – and the attorney should be one of our experienced lawyers from The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia. We will be there for you from the moment you call.

Arraignment – As your defense counsel, we will advise you on how to plead and help you with bail bonds. We will be at your arraignment, fighting for your rights, making sure that you are treated fairly and that you understand each step in the process.

Pre-Trial Motions and Hearings – Criminal cases can have a lot of activity and we’ll be there to see you through the motions, warrants, protective orders, and discovery. We will work hard to build your case and help you through each step.

Plea Bargaining – We will step in and handle plea negotiations on your behalf. We will draft and negotiate the plea agreement to minimize the charges and subsequent penalties against you. We will make sure that you know exactly what you are agreeing to.

Trial – In the court and jury trials, we will vigorously defend you, ensuring that your rights are protected and that any decisions made by the defense are in your best interest. We will do the necessary work to ensure you have the most favorable outcome possible.

Sentencing – At sentencing, we will be at your side. Whatever the next steps are, we will be there to help with your case. If you need to appeal, we will be ready to take action right away, so no time is lost.

Possible Defenses in Costa Mesa Criminal Cases

Posible defense in Costa Mesa criminal cases

Your defense attorney is responsible for crafting the defense strategy for your case. As soon as you become a client, the work begins. No matter your charge or your involvement in the crime, we believe everyone is guilty until proven innocent and deserves their day in court. We handle each case with professionalism and integrity, tailoring your defense to the unique elements of your case.

Below are some of the more common defenses that we may use.

Alibi Defense

An alibi is a great thing to have when you are accused of a crime. If you can prove that you weren't involved and were somewhere else at the time the crime was committed, that can make the defense attorney's job much easier. A solid alibi can get charges dropped.


Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary to defend yourself or someone in danger. California law allows you to protect yourself or someone who is in danger as long as the amount of force you use is what is reasonably necessary. That means if someone is endangering your life, you have the right to use the same amount of force to stop them.


If you are normally a law-abiding person and law enforcement lures you into committing a crime that you would otherwise never have committed, you would be the victim of entrapment. California law on entrapment only refers to law enforcement, but if they use threats, flattery, fraud, harassment, or pressure to get you to commit a crime, it could be entrapment that the charge would have to be thrown out.

Insanity Defense

California law states that you can’t be held responsible for a crime if you were legally insane at the time you committed it. California defines legally insane in two ways. Either:

  • You did not understand or could not understand the nature of the crime you were committing, OR
  • You did not or could not understand that your act was morally wrong.

You can plead insanity as your defense, but you will have to prove it and you’ll have to convince the jury that you were legally insane at the time you committed the crime.

Constitutional Violations

The United States Constitution gives citizens certain rights when they have been arrested and are going through a criminal case. Events that may be called into question are your arrest, how evidence was obtained, and any searches and seizures. However, they can go all the way into the trial.

Why Hire a Costa Mesa Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, you need an attorney who specializes in criminal defense. You need an experienced, educated, and skilled lawyer navigating the complex California criminal justice system. Criminal court is vastly different from civil or family court, and when you walk through those courtroom doors, you want to know that you have the top criminal defense lawyers on your case.

You can’t do this alone. You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to help you construct your case and build a solid defense. You need an attorney who knows the courts and is experienced in defending clients in a variety of criminal cases.

You need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer if you have been arrested for a crime. There's no way around it.

Build a Case With Our Aggressive Costa Mesa Criminal Defense Lawyer at The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia

Build a case with our aggressive Costa Mesa criminal defense lawyer

Call The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia right away and get the representation you deserve. We'll fight to protect your rights and work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. If you need a defense attorney in Costa Mesa, call us. We're in your corner.

Call The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia right away and get the representation you deserve. We'll fight to protect your rights and work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. If you need a defense attorney in Costa Mesa, call us. We're in your corner.

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Our Newport Beach
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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