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Orange County Criminal Lawyers and Orange County Juvenile Lawyers

We Represent Clients in Criminal, Juvenile and CPS Cases

Have you been arrested or charged with a crime? Right now everything is at stake. The single biggest event that can change someone’s life is having a criminal charge.

If you believe you are being investigated for a crime, were recently arrested, or have been contacted by police, stop what you are doing and contact the Johnson Criminal Law Group immediately at (949) 622-5522. Do not speak to anyone about your case until you speak to one of our Orange County criminal lawyers. Even if you are not under arrest, anything you say can be used against you.

The most important thing you can do to protect your freedom is to contact the experienced and aggressive Orange County Criminal Lawyers at Johnson Criminal Law Group today. Do not wait to see what happens and do not try to handle your case alone. The best choice you can make to protect yourself is to get a lawyer on your side right away.

We know that just because you have been accused of a crime, it doesn’t mean that you are guilty or have to be treated like a criminal. Our number one priority is to protect your freedom, keep you out of jail, keep you from having a criminal record, and making sure that you can go back to work and your obligations fast.

Here are some examples of types of cases we handle every day:

Domestic Violence

Families in Orange County face all types of stressors. Financial difficulties, raising children, communication difficulties, stress from extended family, and problems at work can spill over into relationships and result in arguments and sometimes even physical fights. The last thing a couple that loves each other expects is to be in a domestic violence relationship but sometimes relationships are toxic and intervention is needed. If you are charged with domestic battery, corporal injury on a spouse or felony domestic violence, you could be facing jail time, community service, fines and fees, and a year of batterer’s classes. Sometimes the court will issue a protective order. Our #1 priority is aggressively defending these he-said, she-said cases and protecting you from prosecution.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)/Drunk Driving

One of the most commonly charged crimes in Orange County and the surrounding counties is DUI (Driving under the influence of alcohol or Driving under the influence of drugs). Frequently people underestimate the effects of alcohol or drugs, both prescription or illicit, on their driving. These cases can not only impact your criminal history and result in jail time, fines and fees, driving school, or other terms and conditions of probation, but can also impact your driving record with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Our attorneys have the technical and scientific knowledge to raise the best defenses in these cases and help you get back on the road.

Alcohol Crimes

Alcohol is consumed every day as a part of our culture but sometimes individuals don’t realize how much alcohol they have consumed or its affect on them. In Orange County, charges like drunk in public happen every weekend, especially in cities with popular nightlife, bars, and restaurants. Often police will intervene in these cases because the individual is causing a scene or cannot take care of themselves and display objective signs of intoxication. In our office, we get to work with our clients early, before the case has even been filed, to see if we can divert our client from a conviction and helping them take steps to reduce the possibility of reoffending.

Juvenile Crimes

Juvenile crimes are crimes that are found in the California Penal Code, Health and Safety Code, Business and Professions Code, or Vehicle Code but committee by children under the age of 18. The goal of the juvenile court is not only to punish minors for wrongdoing but to rehabilitate them so they are less likely to reoffend. Not all lawyers handle these unique cases because they require a keen understanding of child development and a compassion for the young clients we serve. We often see charges related to drugs, DUI, curfew, theft, and violence in juvenile court.

Driving Offenses

In Southern California, most people drive and as a result are more likely to be involved in a driving offense more than any other crimes. In our office, we frequently are contacted by individuals who may be accused of driving offenses like hit-and-run, driving without a license, or driving on a suspended license. Some people panic and leave the scene of an accident because they are scared. In other cases, individuals choose to drive despite not having a valid license because they have to go to work. We help clients navigate these driving cases as well as the DMV portion of their cases every day.

Cyber / Internet Crimes

With internet bullying and other internet crimes on the rise, our office has seen more clients charged with offenses that relate to their use of the internet. Because almost everyone uses the internet, including people and businesses, it is more common for thefts, fraud, and harassment to occur behind the perceived anonymity of the internet. Police are able to identify suspects through use of the IP addresses and usually have evidence hoping to connect an individual to the crimes charged. The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was in fact the true user of the internet and that the crime was committed and all elements met.

Theft/Property Crimes

Any theft of property with the intent to deprive the true owner of the property where the value is $950 or more can be charged as grand theft. Our office handles cases where the property may be money, consumer goods, cars, or other valuable property. The prosecutor has to prove the items were taken, not loaned, and that the defendant had the specific intent to permanently deprive. Frequently a defense may be that the property was borrowed or that the defendant had the lawful right to have it.

White Collar/Fraud Crimes

White collar crimes in Orange County can include embezzlement, fraud, perjury or other offenses where dishonesty resulted in the theft of property in a business setting. For example, if an employee had the right to possess money from a business but wrongfully converted that money into an asset or other form, without permission from the owner of the business, he could be charged with a white collar crime. Our office handles these complex cases to make sure that we truly understand the unique case or business-specific facts and interpose the best defenses to the charges.

Petty Theft

Most petty theft cases take place in retail establishments like Target, Kohls, or grocery stories, but a petty theft can be the theft of any property of another where the value of the property is under $950. For example, if an individual took a pair of sunglasses or a cell phone from someone’s house with the intent to deprive the owner, they could be charged with petty theft. Many times in petty theft cases, our attorneys are able to get these cases dismissed through diversion or through negotiations with the prosecutions. In other cases, we seek to limit our client’s exposure to jail time or probation.

Violent Crimes

An assault occurs when a person tries to hit, kick, punch or otherwise have unwanted and unlawful contact with another. A battery is the completed act of assault and where the completed touching occurs. Most people don’t plan to go out on a Saturday night and get into a fight but in Orange County we see these cases happen in areas like Newport Beach and Huntington Beach on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes alcohol use is involved and the person accused of the crime may not remember the facts very well. Often times, these events happen in groups but witnesses may not want to get involved. In these cases our attorneys get right to work to investigate the case to evaluate whether the actions were in self-defense or defense of another.

Child Abuse

The most commonly charged child abuse-related crimes in Orange County result from endangerment, negligence or physical abuse. Our lawyers have represented clients accused of the least serious acts of child abuse to the most serious that exist in the law—from a parent leaving a child unattended, DUI with a child in the car or domestic violence with a child in the home, to serious physical injuries. We also represent parents in the related dependency actions that frequently take place at the same time as the criminal matter. Our goal is to keep children home with their parents and to reduce the amount of supervision of the court over our client’s lives.

Drug Crimes

Drug use and abuse is on the rise in Orange County and we frequently defend clients accused of possessing or abusing opiate drugs like heroin, oxycontin, and oxycodone. We also see charges for methamphetamine possession, ecstasy, LSD, cocaine, xanax, klonipin, and marijuana. While some charges can be diverted under statutory law where a client does a drug treatment plan, other times it is more appropriate to place a client in a drug treatment program in lieu of what the state can offer. In these cases, our lawyers help clients avoid punishment while improving their lives if they want help.

Irvine Criminal Defense

The experienced lawyers at Johnson Criminal Law Group represent clients in Irvine every day. Our office is conveniently located a block from the Harbor Justice Center where Irvine misdemeanors and felonies are heard. Irvine, with a population of 250,000 residents is home to many central offices for businesses, houses the University of California, Irvine, and boasts some of the best public schools in the country. With tens of thousands of people traveling into Irvine every day for school and work, traffic related crimes like hit and run and DUI happen often. We also see residential burglaries both on campus at the University but also in our residential apartment homes, condominiums and homes. We also see domestic violence and child abuse occur in Irvine. While Irvine is considered a low-crime area, the police are well-funded and equipped to respond to even the most serious threats to its residents and work closely with homeland security and county fire to keep residents safe. Despite Irvine's excellent reputation, crimes do occur in Irvine and a strong defense is necessary to challenge the prosecution's case."

Here is the timeline of a criminal defense case:


When police are contacted about a possible crime, the will go out and investigate. Usually, they will talk to all possible witnesses at the scene and may follow up and contact other witnesses by phone or in person. They will also obtain any physical evidence available at the scene, take pictures, or record other aspects of physical evidences. The police collect evidence to see if they can prove the elements of a crime once they determine if a crime may have been committed. Using their training, they will do their best to see if a prosecutor could prove a crime happened. They must retain evidence to preserve it in the event the prosecutor brings charges and the case goes to trial.

Filing of Charges

Once police have gathered evidence and witness information, they will submit their reports to the prosecutor who may be a District Attorney or Attorney General. A prosecutor may be in charge of filing certain types of cases or that can rotate. A prosecutor will look at the facts as alleged and determine whether he or she can prove specific charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes the charges police thought applied may not be filed or other charges may be filed instead. The prosecutor can decide at that point to file charges, to reject the case because there was insufficient evidence, to reject the case in the interest of justice, or to send the case back to law enforcement for further investigation.


Sometimes police will arrest a person in the field if they believe the individual presents a current danger. Other times, police will submit the case to the prosecutor to see if they file it. If a case is filed, the prosecutor may send a letter for the defendant to appear in court or they may submit the case to the court and request a warrant for an individual’s arrest. A warrant for arrest will be served by law enforcement and will result in a defendant being taken to jail. In almost all circumstances that individual will have the opportunity to post bail before they get to court or the court will set a bail amount and then bail can also be posted. Some individuals get arrested and booked but maybe released with a promise to appear in court on a future date.

Transfer to Central Booking

After a suspect is arrested by a local law enforcement agency, like Irvine Police Department or the Orange County Sheriffs, they will be transported to the main Orange County Jail for booking. The main jail is located in Santa Ana and houses both male and female inmates. The arrestee will be require to go “through the loop” and turn over their person effects to be booked, will be finger printed, and will go through some assessment to determine where they will be housed until their arraignment date. An individual can be bailed out from the Orange County jail once they are book. They may be housed at OC Men’s jail, OC Women’s Jail, the Theo Lacy Facility or the James A. Musick Facility.


Bail is a fixed amount of money that an individual can post with a promise they will appear in court at their court hearing. A bond or a portion of the bail may be posted and the bonds agent covers the rest through insurance. In the event the defendant fails to appear in court the bond would be forfeited and a new bond would be required for the defendant to remain out of custody. Bail is within the jurisdiction of the court and our attorneys frequently handle motions to decrease bail as well as related hearings.

Criminal Court Arraignment

An arraignment is the first time a defendant may be notified of the charges against him in the form of a complaint. At the arraignment, the defendant most frequently enters a non-guilty plea and reserves a number of rights under the state and federal constitution as well as motions to be run at a future date. At the arraignment, the prosecutor usually provides defense counsel with a copy of the police report. The court will either set bail or release a defendant on his own recognizance with a promise to appear in court.

Grand Jury Actions

A criminal grand jury exists to hear evidence and recommend whether the prosecution should bring charges against a suspect. The grand jury can compel witnesses to testify before it to gather information when it is deciding whether the charges should be brought forward. A grand jury proceeding is one that involves the prosecutor and the grand jury. Individuals can testify or exercise their 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination before the grand jury.

Pre-Trial Hearings

A case may have one or several pre-trial hearings at which a defendant’s attorney will begin to discuss the case with the prosecutor and sometimes the judge. Frequently these conversations take place away from the defendant or in a conference room in the courthouse. Sometimes the prosecutor will turn over requested discovery and the criminal defense lawyer may offer mitigating evidence. The attorneys may discuss a resolution of the case through a plea, dismissal, or diversion. They also may consider a time frame for the case moving forward toward motions and trial.


Pre-trial discovery is a process in which the attorneys in a case share information in an effort to settle the case or prepare for trial. In a criminal case, the prosecution is ethically required to turn over to the defense both inculpatory evidence (evidence that tends to show guilt) as well as exculpatory evidence (evidence that points toward innocence) in their possession and in possession of police, who act as an arm of the prosecutor. Defense attorneys may offer evidence that they believe is helpful to the prosecution and that they may offer trial but are not required to provide the prosecutor with any evidence that may impeach the prosecution’s witnesses at trial.

Motion Schedule

In criminal cases, a defense attorney may determine that certain motions should be run as part of a defense. A common motion filed is a Section 1538.5 motion that seeks to exclude unlawfully obtained evidence that police seized. If police did not have the requisite knowledge or information to do a search, and the defendant did not consent to search, the result of a violation of a defendant’s rights in this way should result in that evidence being excluded from trial. For example, if drugs were illegally obtained and the only charge was possession of drugs, that case is likely to be dismissed. Another type of motion commonly run where an individual is charged with resisting arrest or it is believed that law enforcement is not being truthful is a Pitchess motion.


Most cases in the criminal justice system do not go to trial. The overwhelming majority of cases settle for some other outcome. Settlement may involve terms and conditions imposed on a defendant in exchange for a dismissal or diversion or charges. Sometimes charges may be reduced. In other cases, while the charge may remain, a defendant may decide to take an offer of a particular outcome because he or she does not want to fight the case and agrees with the punishment.

Preliminary Hearings

A preliminary hearing is a hearing that must occur prior to a felony case going to trial. While a preliminary hearing may be waived for a strategic reason by defense counsel, most defense attorneys see the preliminary hearing as an opportunity to preview the evidence. In California, Prop 115 allowed police officers to testify regarding the statements of others as an exception to the prohibition against hearsay. If a defendant is “held to answer” or “bound over for trial” as a result of a preliminary hearing, he or she can subsequently file a PC 995 motion if he believes the judge made an error.

Arraignment on the Indictment

After a preliminary hearing, if a defendant is held to answer, he or she will be brought to court to be arraigned on charges in an indictment. An indictment will contain charges that the prosecution believes it can prove at trial in a felony case after hearing evidence at the preliminary hearing. Sometimes those charges may be the same, fewer or more charges than were filed in the complaint. An indictment can also come out of grand jury proceedings.

Trial on the Issues

At trial is something many people have seen on TV or in movies. In California, a criminal defendant is entitled to a jury of his or her peers which means that 12 individuals will hear the case and determine whether the facts meet the elements of the charge. A jury’s verdict must be unanimous or the result is a “mistrial.” At a trial the prosecution will call witnesses and present evidence in an effort to prove its case. The defense is not required to present a case but may cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses or present its own. A defendant has a right at trial to testify or to remain silent.


After a jury or bench trial or after a defendant has pled guilty or no-contest to a charge, the next stage of the proceeding is sentencing. At sentencing the court can impose a variety of punishments including jail, CalTrans physical labor, community service, home confinement, house arrest or GPS monitoring, probation, classes, or other programs. Sentencing can take place at the time of a verdict or plea or can be deferred. In felony cases a defendant is entitled to a pre-sentencing report before being sentenced.


In cases that go to trial, a defendant is entitled to appeal not only an adverse ruling against him but may also appeal a conviction or sentence. On appeal, the Appellate Court will review the court transcripts and the entire court record, including any documents entered as exhibits, and consider the written and/or oral arguments of attorneys for the state and the defendant. A ruling can be challenged to a higher court, all the way to the United States Supreme Court if it is accepted.

Post-Conviction Motions/Expungement

After someone has been sentenced, motions can be run to modify a sentence or termination probation. Whether someone has pled guilty or been found guilty at trial, and have completed the terms of their sentence, they may be eligible to “expunge” their record under PC 1203.4. This section allows a defendant to petition the court requesting the defendant be able to withdraw his guilty plea and have the case dismissed. Some cases are straight-forward and other are more complicated; for example, where a defendant has had probation violations or multiple cases. Our attorneys routinely run these motions and argue them in court for our clients. We also handle Prop 47 and 17b motions to reduce felony charges to misdemeanors.

Our track record speaks for itself. We have over 15 years experience fighting in court and winning. You can trust the experienced Orange County criminal lawyers at our firm to have your back completely. Your defense is our only business and we are available to you any time you need us.

We have represented thousands of clients because we are confident in our abilities, and our clients have faith that we do the best job out there – just read our criminal lawyer client testimonials.

Our lawyers understand that no two cases are alike. Whether you come to our office or discuss your case with us over the phone, you consultation will be confidential. We will spend the time to truly understand your side of the story. We will see what evidence there is against you and determine the strength of it. We always look at your case to see how we can fight it or come up with the best strategy to get the best outcome.

Our attorneys regularly appear at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach, the West Justice Center in Westminster, the North Justice Center in Fullerton, the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, and the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange. The attorneys at the Johnson Criminal Law Group are well networked throughout Orange County and Ms. Johnson-Norris is the Past President of the South Orange County Bar Association.

Our Orange County Criminal Defense attorneys are the most highly regarded and experienced juvenile dependency/CPS lawyers in Orange County. Our attorneys have handled the most serious types of juvenile CPS cases in the system and Ms. Johnson-Norris has helped hundreds of families reunite with their children in juvenile dependency matters. We also handle juvenile dependency appeals for Appellate Defenders, Inc., and Central California Appellate Program. These include cases in the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento; the Fourth District Courts of Appeal, Division One in San Diego, Division Two in Riverside, and Division Three in Orange County; and the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno.

At the Johnson Criminal Law Group, we know how the outcome of your case can affect your life. The attorneys at the Johnson Criminal Law Group work with a strong team of investigators and treatment providers to assist clients in crisis and in defending against their cases. We also consult with other attorneys when clients have immigration or licensure issues. We refer clients to other types of attorneys to meet their needs including civil, family law, and immigration attorneys.

Contact us today so we can get to work on your defense now. Call now to schedule a phone consultation.

Client Reviews
The Johnson Law Group handled a very important and delicate matter with professionalism and a caring manner. Attorneys were knowledgeable, in communications, and provided a top notch service to my need. I highly recommend the Johnson Law Group for your important legal issues. Hardy Jr.
Lauren Johnson-Norris was amazing. She explained everything in ways that were easily understood, & answered all of my question. She was respectful, but also open & honest. She started work on my case the first day we met & got results quickly. She demonstrated passion, concern, and showed true feeling for my situation. My expectations were greatly exceeded. I would say she has an incredible attention for detail, & has a real dedication to her work. Lauren Johnson-Norris would be my first recommendation to any of my family or friends similarly in need of legal assistance. Heather
I researched a lot of attorneys and had met with two attorneys before speaking with Ms. Johnson-Norris and retaining her. I was facing serious charges that could not be on my record, due to my job and was really scared. I felt hopeless & thought my life was ruined...until I found Ms. Johnson-Norris… A criminal defense client (drug case)
She is on point. She knows her field well. I have to give credit where credit is due, you deserve it Lauren Johnson-Norris… Anonymous, Victim of Domestic Violence
Lauren Johnson-Norris was my saving grace. I naively thought you were innocent until proven guilty. However, I soon discovered that CPS and family court does not see things that way… Mrs. G, a CPS client
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