Santa Barbara Family, Juvenile & Criminal Law Firm 

Family Law

Divorce, Child Custody and Visitation, and Child/Spousal Support proceedings usually occur during times of great emotional distress. J’Aimee understands this and does her best to help guide you through this difficult process.

If you and your spouse have been married less than 1 year and you discover that the marriage was entered into based on false promises, e.g., one party assured the other that he/she wanted children when in fact he/she did not, it may be possible to obtain a judgment of nullity. This is often referred to as an annulment.

If you and your spouse have been married for less than 5 years, you have no children, and you own no real property, it may be possible to petition for summary dissolution, which is a streamlined version of divorce in which both parties are in general agreement as to the need for dissolution.

If neither annulment nor summary dissolution is applicable, you or your spouse may petition for dissolution based on "irreconcilable differences". This means that it is not necessary to specify any particular reason for the divorce. This process, depending on the emotional and mental states of the parties, can be easy and relatively quick, or complicated and lengthy. If you have children under the age of 18 years, and/or substantial assets subject to division, the process may be even more complicated. Having experienced and objective counsel will allow you to go through this process more cheaply and with less acrimony.

Finally, there are instances where the parties were never married but either have children or have acquired significant assets that are subject to division. We understand this process, too, and can guide you through it.

Criminal Defense

Crimes are charged by the prosecutor either as felonies, misdemeanors or infractions. Before you enter a plea to any offense, you should have your lawyer examine the complaint or indictment to make sure that you have been legally charged. You should also have your lawyer review all police reports and other evidence to make certain that it is not tainted by some violation of your constitutional rights. If such a violation of constitutional rights has occurred, it is possible to have the evidence, including any incriminating statements you may have made, thrown out.

The most serious offenses are charged as felonies and conviction may mean a term of incarceration in the state prison. Except in rare cases, a first-time felony conviction may also result in some local jail time (1 year or less), followed by probation for 3 to 5 years.

Misdemeanors are the next level of offenses, and include such things as Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs, Petty Theft, Possession of some drugs, Simple Assault, Disturbing the Peace, etc. A conviction on a misdemeanor may result in a term of up to 1 year in the county jail, and/or a fine and/or up to 3 years of probation.

"Wobblers" are offenses that may either be a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the sentence imposed. If the statute under which you are charged says that an offense is punishable by either a term in state prison, or up to 1 year in county jail, it is a "wobbler" and whether it is a felony or misdemeanor will be determined by whether you are sent to state prison (felony), or sent to county jail, with or without probation (misdemeanors.) If the sentence was probation with or without some county jail time, it is possible to ask the Court to declare the offense is and was for all purposes, a misdemeanor, even if it was charged as a felony and you were convicted of a felony.

Infractions are the lowest level criminal offense, and include such things as Public Intoxication, Driving too Fast (Speeding), and Disturbing the Peace. Because there is no jail time possible upon conviction of an infraction, defendants in these cases are not entitled to the services of the Public Defender, even if the defendant is indigent.

DMV Administrative PER SE Proceedings

If you have been arrested for DUI, or if you are under 21 years of age and have been cited for any alcohol or drug-related offense, you may be subject to administrative proceedings by the Department of Motor Vehicles to revoke or suspend your driving privileges IN ADDITION to the criminal charges you face in the local courts. If you have been arrested for such an offense, you will either receive a "temporary license" (pink/salmon in color) when your license is taken by the arresting officer, or you will receive a notice in the mail.

In either event, you only have 10 days from receipt of the temporary license to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to schedule a hearing to contest the automatic suspension of your driving privileges. If you do not contact the DMV to request a hearing within 10 days, then your driving privileges will automatically be suspended for up to 1 year beginning 30 days after the date you were arrested. At the DMV hearing, conducted by a hearing officer, you have the right to be represented by your lawyer, to produce witnesses and other evidence and to question the arresting officer, or officers. Even if you eventually intend to admit guilt and accept the suspension of your driving privileges, making arrangements for a hearing can give you time to make alternate transportation arrangements if, when making the appointment for the hearing, you also ask for a stay of the automatic suspension.