Practice Areas

ASSAULT & BATTERY

Assault is one of the most common charges encountered in courts in San Francisco, Oakland, Redwood City and throughout the Bay Area. Assault and battery charges stem from a variety of altercations, including domestic disputes, fights in bars, road rage incidents and altercations with police.
 

Just because these charges are common, however, does not mean you can take them lightly. Even fighting charges of simple assault is not so simple. If you have been charged with assault of any kind, you face a possible jail sentence and a permanent criminal record that can have long-term consequences on your career and family life.
 

Attorney Angeli R. Fitch of Fitch Law Office in San Francisco provides aggressive and comprehensive defense against assault and battery charges, as well as other criminal charges. Our legal team reviews the facts of your case and creates a custom legal strategy to reach an effective resolution.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Domestic violence crimes are among the most aggressively prosecuted crimes in California. Depending upon the severity of the domestic abuse or criminal threats, punishment can result in a jail sentence of up to one year or incarceration in state prison. Large fines, mandatory counseling sessions, mandatory alcohol education classes, temporary or permanent restraining orders and a lifetime ban on firearm possession may also be required. If you are not a United States citizen, conviction on domestic abuse could lead to your deportation.
 

At Fitch Law Office, in San Francisco, we provide equally aggressive defense throughout the Bay Area against domestic violence charges. Attorney Angeli R. Fitch understands the nuances that differentiate a true act of domestic violence from a heated argument that may have gotten out of hand.
 

We investigate all aspects of your case with the goal of getting your charges reduced or dismissed. Under California criminal law, domestic violence is defined as violence occurring within relationships between spouses, cohabitating partners, people who are dating, people who have children in common and people who have formerly been in these relationships.

DRUG CRIMES

Law enforcement authorities in California are aggressively prosecuting drug crimes throughout the state. If you have been arrested and charged with a drug offense, you need a knowledgeable and equally aggressive defense attorney.


Attorney Angeli R. Fitch at Fitch Law Office in San Francisco has helped a number of clients defend themselves against a variety of drug-related charges in state and federal courts throughout Northern California. Attorney Fitch begins every case by carefully reviewing arrest records to see if your constitutional rights have been violated. If drugs or cash were confiscated through an illegal search and seizure, we file a motion to suppress that evidence so it cannot be used against you at trial.


In many cases, we work with prosecutors during negotiations to get the charges or punishment reduced. We make effective use of drug addiction programs that can be incorporated into alternative sentences in order to keep our clients out of prison. 

DUI

If you are arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol, marijuana, prescription medication or other drugs, you face serious consequences. You need an attorney who will do more than accompany you to court and walk you through the system.


In California, blood alcohol content of .08 or above is over the legal limit. Conviction may result in fines, imprisonment, mandatory treatment programs, increased insurance rates and even loss of employment for workers with a commercial driver's license.


While other DUI defense lawyers are quick to accept reduced charges and move on to their next case, at Fitch Law Office in San Francisco, we fight DUI charges aggressively if it is in a client's best interest.


California laws provide judges a number of options in punishing people who are convicted of driving under the influence. Our ultimate goal is to keep you out of jail and limit the long-term impact that a DUI arrest has on your employment, ability to drive and other aspects of your life. 

EXPUNGEMENTS

Background checks for employment, professional licensing, college admission and financial aid, or even renting an apartment have become common. If you have a criminal record from a mistake made many years ago or even for a recent conviction, California law provides for a means to clear your record.


Expungement is a legal process by which a conviction or plea of either guilty or no contest in a criminal case is set aside and the case is dismissed. It relieves the defendant of certain penalties and disabilities that result from a criminal action, such as having to divulge his or her criminal record on employment applications or in other similar situations.


At Fitch Law Office, in San Francisco, we help individuals navigate the expungement process so they can clear their record as quickly as possible, often within a matter of a few months.


Once your conviction is expunged, you can lawfully tell potential employers, landlords, loan officers and others that you have never been convicted of a crime.


Although the criminal record itself is not physically destroyed or permanently sealed through expungement, it is removed from the public record. Only governmental agencies will have access to the record. This means that applying for employment at a private company will reveal no criminal background, as will a background check conducted by any personal or professional acquaintance.


We bring the same personal attention and emphasis on client objectives in our effort to clear your arrest record that we use in all other criminal defense work. Attorney Angeli R. Fitch has many years of experience working in all facets of California criminal defense work.

FRAUD & IDENTITY THEFT

The crime of fraud is most often referred to as a "white collar crime." Under California law, fraud encompasses a number of different offenses in which a party intentionally creates an unfair benefit for him or herself, or harms another person by causing that person a loss.


Fraud cases are complex and document-intensive. It is important to retain the services of an experienced San Francisco fraud lawyer who can minimize the impact of these charges on your personal and professional life.


Examples of fraud include:


  • Forgery and identity theft — Including Internet fraud, forging or counterfeiting an ID or driver's license, and falsely impersonating someone.
  • Insurance fraud — Providing false information regarding an insurance application or policy to obtain payments to which you are not entitled.
  • Mortgage fraud — Often arise from an alleged misstatement or false statement in a real estate document, including a misstatement as to who an employer is or how much income was generated from a real estate sale.
  • Bank fraud — The use of fraudulent means to obtain money, assets or other property owned or held by a financial institution.
  • Identity  theft — Knowingly using the personal identifying information, financial identifying information or financial device of another person without permission or lawful authority to obtain cash, credit, property, services or any other thing of value.

Fraud can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the defendant's criminal history and the specific facts of the case. This sliding scale allows for a wide range of penalties and the combination of fines and jail time.


A fraud conviction can lead to the revocation and denial of a number of state professional licenses. It could also subject both legal and undocumented immigrants to detention and deportation.


We are committed to doing whatever possible to work toward an outright dismissal or reach the best possible outcome through negotiations with prosecutors. If a fair agreement cannot be reached, Angeli R. Fitch is a trial-tested attorney who will protect your rights in court. 

IMMIGRANTS FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES

For non-citizens who live and work in the United States, the consequences of a criminal conviction or plea agreement may be far more serious than the direct penal consequences of the crime. Conviction of a crime or acceptance of a plea agreement can result in deportation, even if the agreement specifies no jail time. If you're applying for permanent residence status, your criminal record could keep you from getting it.


Clearly, it is critical for any immigrant who faces criminal charges to work with a lawyer who understands the full implications of a conviction or a plea offer.


Attorney Angeli R. Fitch of Fitch Law Office, in San Francisco, California, works closely with top-tier immigration lawyers to develop a legal strategy that will produce the best possible outcome in your criminal matter while protecting against any undesirable consequences in terms of your immigration status. 


The following crimes are some of the basic criminal grounds for deportation from the United States or inadmissibility of immigrants:


  • Crimes of moral turpitude
  • Controlled substance law violation
  • Two or more convictions
  • Conviction of an aggravated felony
  • Domestic violence, stalking or child abuse/neglect/abandonment
  • Espionage or sabotage

In some cases, it is possible to have a criminal record cleared or modified so that it does not adversely affect immigration status. This is known as post-conviction relief, and it may be the solution you need to minimize the impact and protect your rights to remain in the United States.


The most common basis for relief in a petition for post-conviction relief is that a client did not receive effective assistance of counsel in connection with a guilty plea, at  trial, at sentencing or on appeal. In 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States (Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356) ruled that criminal defense attorneys must inform their non-citizen clients of immigration consequences that can arise after a guilty plea. Under this ruling, a non-citizen defendant who has pled guilty but was not advised of the adverse immigration consequences of his or her criminal conviction may petition to vacate the conviction. 

MARIJUANA CRIMES

The approval of medical and recreational marijuana laws in California has resulted in a lot of confusion about what is and isn't legal in terms of growing, possessing and selling marijuana. We defend people who were arrested, charged and jailed for alleged marijuana crimes. We also offer advice to medical marijuana grow houses, dispensaries and transporters who have questions about California's Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215), the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64) or who face prosecution for marijuana cultivation, distribution or transportation.


We work with individuals who face charges on any of these:


  • Marijuana, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine offenses
  • Drug dealing cases
  • Possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia
  • Prescription drug charges

A drug arrest can have serious consequences on your personal and  professional life. An established and well-respected attorney like Angeli R. Fitch often can resolve the matter without going to trial, saving her clients time, money and a lot of headaches.

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

A major component of our criminal justice system revolves around whether an individual possessed the required intent to be charged with a crime. Things get complicated quickly when a  person who is suffering from a mental illness is facing criminal charges. The question of intent in these cases is rarely clear cut. These issues are further complicated by the fact that our prison system is simply not equipped to deal with people who have mental illnesses. That is why it is important to seek help from a lawyer who understands these issues and who can help build an effective mental health defense.


At Fitch Law Office, our San Francisco attorney knows how to handle criminal defense and mental health issues. We are committed to not only helping our clients build a strong defense against criminal charges, but also to helping them secure the medical help and treatment they need.
 

Just because a person suffers from a mental illness does not mean that he or she does not have legal rights. We will work hard to help protect the rights of people who have been arrested and are diagnosed with any type of mental illness, including:


  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Depression

Regardless of diagnosis, we will fight to ensure that any mental illness is considered when mounting a criminal defense, and we will work with defendants and their family members to help them get the treatment they need. The following provides more in-depth information about the common intersections between mental health and criminal law.


Many people are confused when it comes to separating a person's competence to stand trial and entering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. After all, how can a person be competent to stand trial, but then claim that he or she is not responsible for the alleged criminal act due to insanity?


Competency to stand trial is only concerned with the accused's mental state at the time of the legal proceedings. In other words, in order to be considered competent, a defendant must be able to understand the charges and be able to assist, however limitedly, in his or her defense.


The question of insanity only considers the defendant's state of mind at the time of the alleged criminal act. If he or she was incapable of forming the requisite intent to be found guilty of the crime, then an insanity defense may be in order. Simply put, competency questions concern the present-day state of mind of the defendant, while an insanity plea looks to the defendant's state of mind in the past, which is why the two issues are treated separately by our legal system. 


There is a lot of misinformation surrounding a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. The name of this type of plea alone conjures images of criminals going free because they were able to successfully mount such a defense. The reality is far different.


Even if a defendant is found to be not guilty by reason of insanity, he or she will still be committed to a secure treatment facility following the trial. The hope is that the defendant will get the care he or she needs. Even so, a commitment may last a long  time. 


Consider the case of John Hinckley, Jr., the man who was charged with and subsequently found not guilty by reason of insanity in the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981. He was released in 2016 after having been committed to a treatment facility for more than 30 years. 


In California, a person who is considered to be a danger to him/herself or others may be placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold for treatment and evaluation. These are what are often referred to as 5150 holds. It is possible that such a hold may be abused by police officers. However, there are limited legal means of fighting such a hold. If a hold is extended beyond the 72-hour period, it may be worth employing legal help.

ROBBERY, BURGLARY & THEFT

Conviction of robbery, burglary, or theft can result in imprisonment, fines, probation and other consequences  associated with a felony conviction. If you or someone you love has been  arrested and charged with burglary or robbery, the most important step  you can take is hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has  proven ability at both pretrial negotiations with prosecutors and  courtroom litigation.


Angeli Fitch has established a record as a robbery, burglary, and theft lawyer who will go to trial when it is in a client's best interest, and who is also adept at negotiating with prosecutors for reduced charges or alternative sentencing when that proves to be the best resolution.


We have experience in both adult and juvenile courts. We assess the short- and long-term impact of any plea agreement before accepting it. We also emphasize clear communication with clients, explaining their options at every step and involving them in the decision-making process. 

SEX CRIMES

Few crimes have a negative impact on a person's life more than sex crimes. Sex offense penalties can be life-changing. In addition to lengthy prison sentences, a person convicted of a sex crime may be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his or her life.


The negative public stigma related to merely being charged with a sexual offense makes it challenging to get the fair criminal process you deserve. Prosecutors pursue charges aggressively because of the public perception of these cases.


At Fitch Law Office, in San Francisco, California, we know how to defend against sex crime charges. We take an aggressive approach to keeping a sex crime charge from negatively impacting you professionally and personally for the rest of your life. 

 

We represent both adults and juveniles against a wide variety of sex charges, including:


  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual abuse
  • Rape
  • Statutory rape (Unlawful Sexual Intercourse)
  • Criminal sexual conduct
  • Internet sex crimes
  • Illegal solicitation
  • Lewd acts

Once  you select us to represent you, we will conduct our own investigation  to build your defense. We will review the state's case and identify any  weaknesses. We will also determine the credibility of any statements  from a victim or witnesses.


Our main objective is to minimize the  impact this will have on your life. If your crime requires registration as a sex offender, the only ways to avoid that are to have your charge dismissed, plead down to a charge that doesn't carry with it sex offender registration and be found not guilty of the crime.


We have a proven track record of successfully negotiating with prosecutors for reduced charges. However, we take this approach only if going to trial does not make sense.


Given the serious long-term ramifications of having any kind of felony or misdemeanor conviction for this type of crime on your record, it is important to speak to an experienced and skilled sex crimes lawyer as soon as possible, even if you are only being investigated for a sex crime.