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Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Arrests happen all the time to ordinary people. Often, the police claim that they want to talk and that the consequences will be better if you cooperate and answer honestly. They may say that if you refuse to talk, the case will only get more complicated. They may insinuate that you are hiding something because you do not want to tell them your side of the story. Even if you believe that you have done nothing wrong, or that you can explain what happened to the police, you should not talk to the police or investigators before talking to an experienced criminal attorney. Staycie R. Sena has nearly three decades of criminal defense experience, representing people throughout Orange County from her office in Irvine. She is certified by the State Bar of California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization in the area of criminal law. She has strong relationships with District Attorneys and judges, which have helped her obtain many dismissals. Members of the Orange County legal community have described her as passionate, relentless, and among the top criminal attorneys in the region.

Criminal Defense

All criminal charges in California need to be established beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very tough standard. However, prosecutors usually feel that they will be able to secure a conviction once they charge someone. It is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney in Orange County on your side. There are situations in which it is appropriate to negotiate a plea deal. For example, if you are charged with a felony, it may be smart to seek a reduction to a misdemeanor. There are other circumstances under which it is a sound idea to go to trial and put forth the strongest possible defense.


It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You can face serious consequences, particularly if you have prior DUI convictions or cause someone to be injured in the course of your DUI. If you are convicted for a first offense DUI, you face the possibility of jail time, fines, a driver’s license suspension, mandatory driver’s school, and the loss of certain privileges, such as a professional license. Harsher consequences are imposed for a DUI if you have a prior conviction.

Drug Crimes

Drug crimes are mostly felonies, but some are misdemeanors. The substances involved can include cocaine, heroin, ketamine, LSD, meth, Oxycontin, Valium, and Vicodin. You can be charged for possession, possession with intent to sell, distribution, manufacturing, and trafficking in controlled substances. The penalties depend on the specific crime. For example, you could face 3-9 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for the sale or transportation of heroin. Orange County criminal defense attorney Staycie R. Sena understands the high stakes in these cases and can help you fight to avoid or mitigate the penalties.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can include the infliction of a bodily injury, child abuse, child endangerment, and criminal threats of violence. In California, domestic violence is charged when someone perpetrates a criminal act and has one of the following kinds of relationships with the victim: spouse, ex-spouse, co-habitant or former co-habitant in a home, co-parent, or dating partner. The prosecutor can decide which criminal charges should be pursued based on how serious the actions and the harm to the victim are, among other circumstances. Often, domestic violence is charged in connection with battery. Under section 242, battery is the willful and unlawful use of violence or force against another person.

Assault and Battery

In California, most assaults and most batteries are charged as misdemeanors. However, if the situation resulted in one or more people getting seriously injured, or if a deadly weapon was involved, a felony may be charged. This makes it especially important to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Orange County. Under Penal Code 240, an assault is an effort to use violence or force on another person. Battery involves the actual use of violence or force on another person. When a battery causes a serious bodily injury, or one person willfully touches someone else in a harmful or offensive way, aggravated battery could be charged under California Penal Code 243(d).

Sex Crimes

Sex crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. They include a wide range of crimes, such as rape, child pornography, oral copulation by force, statutory rape, sexual battery, lewd acts with a child, prostitution, and indecent exposure. What must be established by a prosecutor depends on the particular charge. For example, California Penal Code 261 requires proof that a person had sex with another person without consent. Lewd acts with a child under California Penal Code 288 can be charged when someone touches a child who is 15 or younger in order to obtain sexual gratification.

Theft Crimes

In California, theft is charged in connection with illegal or intentional taking of property. To secure a conviction for theft, the prosecutor needs to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to permanently deprive a property owner of a piece of property. Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena can handle cases involving robbery, embezzlement, forgery, identity theft, receiving stolen property, using information from someone else’s bank account or credit card to secure services or assets, falsifying information to sell things to a pawnbroker, or selling a credit card or otherwise illegally transferring it. The classification of the theft will hinge on the fair market value of what was taken. For example, petty theft is charged if the property was worth $950 or less.

Traffic Offenses

Traffic offenses include hit and runs, driving on a suspended license, reckless driving, and driving without registration. These offenses can be minor and charged as infractions, rather than criminal violations. Infractions can result in minor consequences like fines. However, sometimes traffic offenses are very serious, such as charges involving hit and run accidents in which somebody is killed. When a traffic offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony, the penalties may include a term of incarceration, revocation of a driver’s license, fines, and drug or alcohol treatment.


Probation conditions can include getting a job, complying with a protective order, avoiding alcohol and drug use, meeting with a probation officer, and not owning a firearm. Probation violations can result in harsh consequences, depending on how serious the violation is. With a minor violation, you might face mandatory community service and mandatory counseling. However, if there is a more serious probation violation, you might face harsh consequences, including the revocation of your probation. You may even face the sentence that you were originally facing or have that sentence replaced with the maximum sentence applicable for the underlying conviction for which you received probation.

Restraining Orders

In California, you can face a restraining order in a domestic violence case. A restraining order is an order issued by a court to stop or protect against somebody being sexually or physically abused, threatened, harassed, or stalked. It can include restraints on specific conduct like making threats, contacting, sending messages of any kind, stalking, sexually assaulting, or destroying personal property. It can require the restrained person to stay a certain distance away from the protected person, their car, or a location at which the protected person lives, works, or sends a child to school. In California, protective orders are usually in place for a maximum of three years, but sometimes they become permanent.

Consult an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Orange County

Staycie R. Sena is a skillful and experienced attorney who can provide forceful advocacy in a broad range of criminal matters. She understands the importance of keeping your record clean so that you can pursue your personal and professional goals. Call us at (949) 477-8088 or contact us via our online form if you have been arrested or are under investigation.

Orange County Criminal Lawyer Blog
Client Reviews
"Ms. Sena guided me through the dark ravages of domestic violence with scrupulous and empathetic support." Tammy S.
"I was charged with a crime that I did not commit. I feared that I would go to prison for a long time. Ms. Sena worked on my case around the clock. She met me at my home, met with my family and friends, and never gave up fighting for me. It took two years but I could not be happier with the outcome: she won the case. I am more thankful than words can say" Antonio F.
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