Six Tips to Choosing the Right Attorney

Choosing the right lawyer for you and your case will probably be the most important decision you will have to make following your arrest. Choose the right one and you can expect to obtain the best possible result for your situation. Choose the wrong one and it can lead to disaster.

Tip 1 – Ask everyone you know for referrals.
You will soon begin to see the same names appear again and again as experts in the field of law related to your case. These are the lawyers you should call for an interview.

Tip 2 – Shop around.
You would never buy a car without shopping around and comparing, so why choose the first lawyer you meet? Many attorneys will not charge you for an initial short interview, so it makes sense to spend some time to make sure you have the right person to represent you.

Tip 3 – Make an appointment and go to the lawyer’s office for a personal interview.
It is important to look the lawyer in the eye when discussing crucial issues involving your life. A good “connection” between you and your lawyer important.

Tip 4 – Be honest with your lawyer.
Tell him or her everything, even if the truth hurts. The lawyer cannot help you if he or she does not know everything about your case.

Tip 5 – Ask the lawyer to be honest with you.
Insist that he or she tell you the truth, even if it is not what you wan to hear. Be open to hear the truth, even if it is unpleasant.

Tip 6 – Ask the lawyer to tell you exactly what the fee will be for your case.
Ask also what exactly this fee will cover and how and when the attorney would like to be paid.

Six Steps to Follow if Arrested: A Survival Guide

We understand that being arrested is a very traumatic and upsetting experience for most people. Penny Bail Bonds is here to help you through it!  Here is what you should do if you or a friend (or relative) has been arrested:

Step 1: Call Penny Bail Bonds – 800-838-3278
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will meet you at a convenient location to arrange bail anywhere in Southern California.

Step 2: Don’t talk to anyone except a lawyer about the situation
It is natural to want to talk to other people about the arrest or your feelings about it. Avoid this at all costs since people you talk to could alter be called as witnesses against the defendant. Talk only to your attorney about the case.

Step 3: Find the right Attorney
Finding the right attorney for you and your case is not an easy task. If you need a public defender, this should be brought up at your arraignment. The court will immediately appoint one for you, if you qualify. To find a private attorney, start by calling the County Bar Association for a referral. You might also contact an attorney you know and ask for a referral for someone who specializes in your kind of case.

Step 4: When you wait for your court appearance
After you are released from jail awaiting your court appearance, it is important that you lead a very law-abiding life and do not break any more laws. It often helps your case to correct problems in your life that caused your arrest. It also helps to do whatever you need to do to convince the court that you are now trying to be a good citizen and improve your life. For example, enroll in anger management if you anticipate the court will want you to do that. If unemployed, enroll in school or find a job prior to your court appearance. If the charge involves your treatment of children enroll in a good parenting program. If alcohol or drug abuse is an issue, immediately enroll in a rehabilitation program. For a list of resources, visit

Step 5: Behave appropriately in court
Your physical appearance in court can influence the outcome of your case. Be sure to dress appropriately. Tank – tops and sandals are not appropriate. Don’t bring your children to court, if this can be avoided. If you must bring your children, bring snacks or meals for them. When standing before the court, be sure to remain in control of your attitude and emotions at all times. Sarcasm or negative attitude can only hurt you and your case. Do not discuss you case in hallways or in the bathroom, unless it is with your attorney. After all, you never know who else is listening.

Step 6: Preparing For Jail Time
If you are sentenced to jail time, it will be much easier for you and your family if you prepare ahead of time emotionally and financially for your ordeal. Some practical things to do that will help include the following:

  • Organize your finances prior to going to jail.
  • Take a copy of your medical records, medications and prescriptions to the jailers so that you can continue any medications and medical care  you may  need.
  • If you wear eye glasses, take an extra pair, as glasses frequently get broken in jail.
  • Make arrangements with any storage units you have to continue storage of your items.
  • Switch magazine subscriptions to your jail address.
  • Get needed dental work done prior to incarceration, if possible.
  • Give power of attorney to your spouse or partner for all business and financial matters.
  • Update your driver’s license before going to jail.
  • Women should arrange for child care and give temporary guardianship and authority for medical care to a trusted family member or friend.
  • Consider getting brief counseling to deal with the stress of incarceration or having to live without your partner or relative for awhile. You can talk freely to a clergy-person or a mental health professional because they are bound to confidentiality and cannot legally discuss what you tell them to anyone.
  • Decide ahead of time how often you will call out from jail, because this can get very expensive. All calls from jail have to be collect calls through a company other than the regular phone company. This other phone company is charges higher rates, so your collect bill can add up very quickly.

You will want “extra’s” in jail – things that are considered “essential” on the outside but have to be bought inside at the commissary.  This includes food items, toiletries, etc. To purchase these items, you or someone else can put money “on the books”. This serves as a credit card so you can purchase needed items. It is best to budget this amount prior to going to jail so that the “ground rules” are in place – this avoids conflict and misunderstanding.

How to Control Your Anger

By Anthony Fiore, Ph.D.
The Anger Coach
Century Anger Management

Managing angry feelings in is a challenge for many people. It requires mastering specific thought and action skills and then practicing these skills on a daily basis. The costs to persons who do not learn how to regulate their negative emotions are high and include increased risk of getting into legal trouble, loss of relationships, conflicts at work, loss of respect in the eyes of loved ones, and lowering of self-esteem.

What is Anger?
We view angry feelings as a normal emotional reaction to frustration in our everyday world. It is natural to become angry when we have a goal and this goal is blocked in some way. Anger isn’t just one emotion, but a family of emotions that are related to each other both in our brains and in our behavior. People often give a variety of names to their angry feelings, which range from mild irritation to rage.

Once anger begins, it generates changes in our expressions, our faces, our voice, and changes in the way we think. It also creates impulses to action. In fact, the purpose of emotions such as anger is to organize and mobilize all of our bodily systems to respond to our environment in some way.

Anger, like all emotions, is regulated by that section of our brain called the “limbic system” (located in our mid brains beyond our inner ear) Emotional memories are stored in the “amygdala” and other structures which are located in this limbic system.

You may experience anger now in your life which may actually be caused by a mixture of what is triggering it now and experiences you have had in the past – even if you don’t remember them.  This “old anger” is activated by your brain in its attempt to protect you – even though the original danger is no longer present.

It is up to the thinking part of the brain, our frontal lobes, to find a way to deal with the angry feelings the amygdala and other brain structures have set in motion. Fortunately, as thinking human beings we have the unique ability among mammals to have choices regarding how we will deal with our feelings.

Our model of anger management
In our view, anger management is NOT about never getting angry – that would be an impossible and ridiculous goal because angry feelings are “hard-wired” in your brain and probably serve a protective and survival function.

Rather, anger management is about learning how to regulate and express those natural angry feelings in a way that makes you a more effective human being. Persons who manage their anger well have better relationships, better health, and more occupational success than those who manage their anger poorly. They also get more of their needs met without antagonizing loved ones or colleagues.

Learning to manage anger involves mastering the eight tools of anger control that we have found to be highly effective in our local anger management classes. This model of anger management is not therapy and does not dwell on the past or the underlying reasons for anger. Rather, our approach is psycho-educational, skill-building, and practical drawing on recent research and findings in neuroscience, marriage/relationships, stress management, and the emerging science of happiness and optimism.

The eight tools of anger control:

Tool 1 – Recognize stress
Stress is often the trigger that takes us from feeling peaceful to experiencing uncomfortable angry feelings in many common life situations.  Whether the stressor is external or internal, scientists have discovered that the major systems of the body work together to provide one of the human organism’s most powerful and sophisticated defenses; the stress response which you may know better as “fight-or-flight” Before your stress response turns into anger or aggression, use stress management strategies to get it under control.

Tool 2 – Develop empathy
To empathize is to see with the eyes of another, to hear with the ears of another, and to feel with the heart of another. Lack of empathy leads to poor communication and a failing to understand others. To manage anger, it often helps to see our anger as a combination of other people’s behavior and our lack of empathy.

Tool 3 – Respond instead of react
Many times we become angry because we  find people and situations that literally “push our buttons”, and we react just like a juke box that automatically pulls down a record and starts playing when you make a selection. Rather than reacting to anger triggers in this  fashion,  you can learn to choose how to deal with frustrating situations – to respond rather than automatically react like that juke box.

Tool 4 – Change that conversation with yourself
What you tell yourself is what you get. We are constantly having inner conversations – also called self-talk – which create, decrease, or intensity our feelings and emotional states, including anger. Learning to recognize and modify that conversation in an important tool in anger control. This tool helps you counter “Stinkin’ thinking.”

Tool 5 – Communicate assertively
Anger expressed toward others is often a misguided way of communicating a feeling we have or a need that is not being satisfied by other people or situations. Assertive communication is a set of skills to teach you how to honestly and effectively communicate how you feel and how you are responding to things – without getting angry or hostile about it.

Tool 6 – Adjust expectations
Anger is often triggered by a discrepancy between what we expect and what we get. Learning to adjust those expectations – sometimes upward and other times downward-can help us cope with difficult situations or people- or even cope with ourselves. There are four ways to adjust those expectations which are simple thought – skills to acquire.

Tool 7 – Forgive but don’t forget!
Anger is often the result of grievances we hold toward other people or situations, usually because of our perception and feeling of having been wronged by them in some way. Resentment is a form of anger that does more damage to the holder than the offender.  Making the decision to “let go” (while still protecting ourselves) is often a process of forgiveness – or at least acceptance – and is a major step toward anger control.

Tool 8 – Retreat and think things over!
Research shows that we are pretty much incapable of resolving conflicts or thinking rationally in an argument when our stress level reaches a certain point. To avoid losing control either physically or verbally, it is often best to take a temporary “time-out” and leave.  This tool of anger management works much better if (a) you commit to return within a reasonable amount of time to work things out, and (2) you work on your “self-talk” while trying to cool down.


Tony Fiore, Ph.D, is a practicing psychologist and anger management trainer in Southern California. He can be reached at 714-771-0378, on the web at or by email: He publishes a free monthly newsletter “Taming the Anger Bee”, and is also co-author of “Anger Management For The Twenty First Century” which explains the eight tools in much more detail. Century Anger Management  ( provides certification training for anger management professionals.

Sentencing Investigations and Consultant

Sentencing Investigations and Consultant

What can a Sentencing Consultant do for an Attorney?
A Sentencing Consultant assists defense teams in the preparation of cases in addition to providing comprehensive social history investigations to uncover potential mitigating factors from a social, familial and medical perspective.  As an integral part of the defense team, a Sentencing Consultant can be a significant timesaver for the attorney by dealing with the client on non-legal matters and the gathering of information and records.

How can a Private Sentencing report impact the proceedings?
Private Sentencing reports provides the Judicial Officers alternatives to those suggested by the prosecution and the potentially damaging probation report.  The objective is to shift the emphasis of the proceedings from crime-based, to a client-based perspective, which in effect, humanizes the client to the court and prosecution.

Why has there been such growth in Defense-Based Sentencing concepts?
The word is spreading among many criminal defense law practices and they have come to embrace this concept for the following reasons: plea negotiations can be enhanced; more cases are won; clients are afforded increased options to incarceration; and the prosecution becomes less vociferous in making their case.

SENTENCING INVESTIGATIONS expands the horizons of Criminal Defense law practices by providing clients alternative sentencing reports which are compelling, comprehensive, well constructed, researched, documented and offer persuasive defense sentencing options for judges to consider.  Sentencing Investigations specializes in criminal defense investigations and court reports.

Lawrence S. Wong
Sentencing Consultant
P. O. Box 18975
ANAHEIM HILLS, CA. 92817-8975
(714) 777-9351 office/fax
(714) 797-9231 mobile

National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates & Mitigation Specialists
National Legal Aid & Defenders Association
Thirty-One years with the probation department
Fifteen years experience as probation court investigator/instructor

Is Your Child at Risk for Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. The pure chemical, cocaine hydrochloride, has been an abused substance for more than 100 years, and coca leaves, the source of cocaine, have been ingested for thousands of years.

It can be snorted, sniffed, injected, or smoked. Crack is cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking.

Common street names include coke, snow, flake, blow, and many others. Common health effects include heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, and seizures. Large amounts can cause bizarre and violent behavior. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter.

Cocaine is highly addictive, and the addiction develops quickly in some people – but not everyone is equally susceptible. This surprising finding was recently reported from a National Household survey on Drug Abuse from 2000-2001, as reported in a scientific journal called Neuropsychopharmacology (May 2005).

Two hundred people in this study were asked if they had ever used cocaine, when they had first used the drug and how often they had used it.

The results? Women were less likely than men to start using cocaine, but once they did were three to four times more likely to become addicted within two years. More startling was the finding that African Americans were not as likely to start using cocaine as other groups, but compared to Latinos and whites were nine times more likely to become addicted in the first two years, if they did start using. Even adjusted for education and use of crack or injected cocaine, their risk was four times greater.

Does it matter at what age you start? The survey indicates that the danger of early addiction was greater for people who start in late adolescence than for those who started after age 21. These results speak to the urgent necessity to find ways to prevent our adolescent children from experimenting with cocaine use. This is especially true if you have adolescent girls and if you are an African-American family.

What are some common signs or symptoms of cocaine use in adolescents that should alert parents to possible cocaine involvement?

  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Runny nose or frequent sniffing
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Change in groups of friends
  • Change in school grades or behavior
  • Withdrawn, depressed, tired, or careless about personal appearance
  • Loss of interest in school, family, or activities
  • Frequently in need of money

For more information on what resources a parent may turn to if they suspect cocaine use in their children, click on the following reputable links for help, guidance and treatment.
National Institute of Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator
Sober Living By The Sea

Overcoming Addictions #1

Part 1- Seven common myths about addictions*

Brad is a 45 year old computer programmer and father of a 5 year old girl who suddenly found himself in jail for spousal abuse following marital conflict while he was high on heroin and alcohol. Normally a “nice guy,” he “lost it” when his 36 year old wife (also high) went into a jealous rage upon discovering he was talking to another woman at a friend’s house during a party. Because this occurred in Los Angele County, his bail was set at $50,000. Once in court, the judge required him to attend an anger management program, as well as a substance abuse treatment.

Brad’s story is typical; many arrests and incarcerations are related to substance abuse. It happens to both experienced criminals as well as to normally non-criminal “ordinary” people who get into trouble.

Recent research shows there is a starting correlation between substance abuse and arrests: One Australian study, for instance, showed 86% of people arrested had a substance-use disorder compared to just 7% in the general population.

Obviously, it is important for society to understand drug (and alcohol) abuse, so that we can develop programs to help abusers and addicts before their behavior leads to arrest and incarceration.
Let’s start by looking at seven common myths of addiction:

Myth #1 – Addicts are bad, crazy, or stupid.
Evolving research is demonstrating that most addicts are not bad people who need to get good, mentally ill people who need to get sane, or stupid people who need general education. As Brad’s case illustrates, addicts are seen at all educational levels and across all occupations.

Myth #2 – Addiction is a willpower problem.
This is an old belief, probably based upon wanting to blame addicts for using drugs to excess. This myth is reinforced by the observation that most treatments for alcoholism and addiction are behavioral (talk) therapies, which are perceived to build self-control. But addiction occurs in an area of the brain that is not under conscious control. This suggests that addiction is best seen as a brain (neurochemical) disorder as well as a behavioral disorder.

Myth #3. Addicts should be punished, not treated, for using drugs.
Science is demonstrating that addicts have a brain disorder as well as a behavioral disorder that causes them to have impaired control over their use of drugs. Addicts need treatment for their neurochemically driven brain pathology. Addiction should be seen as a medical/psychological problem – not a criminal issue in itself.

In fact, most addicts elect to receive substance abuse treatment while incarcerated. One survey showed that among drug dependent or abusing prisoners, 40% of State and 49% of Federal inmates took part in drug abuse treatment or programs since admission to prison.
Myth #4 – People addicted to one drug are addicted to all drugs.
While this sometimes occurs, most people who are dependent on a drug may be dependent on one or two drugs, but not all. This is probably due to how each drug “matches up” with the person’s brain chemistry.
Myth #5 – Addicts cannot be treated with medications.
Actually, addicts are medically detoxified in hospitals, when appropriate, all the time. But can they be treated with medications after detoxification? New medicines are being developed to help patients who have already become abstinent to further curb their craving for addicting drugs. These medications reduce the chances of relapse and enhance the effectiveness of existing behavioral (talk) therapies.
Myth #6 – Addiction is treated behaviorally, so it must be a behavioral problem.
New brain scan studies are showing that behavioral treatments (i.e., psychotherapy) and medications work similarly in changing brain function. So addiction is a complex disorder which often requires a variety of treatment approaches to cure or manage.
Myth #7 – Alcoholics can stop drinking simply by attending AA meetings, so they can’t have a brain disorder.
The key word here is “simply.” For most people, AA is a tough, lifelong working of the Twelve Steps. On the basis of research, we know that this support system of people with a common experience is one of the active ingredients of recovery in AA. AA doesn’t work for everyone, even for many people who truly want to stop drinking. Brad, however, found AA extremely helpful to him to remain motivated to stop drinking.

* Adapted from Myths of Addiction. Carlton K. Erickson, Ph.D., University of Texas Addiction Science

Anthony Fiore, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, anger management trainer, and consultant to Penny Bail Bonds ( – a unique bail agency that helps you put the pieces of your life back together, from jail release to referral to community resources.

Overcoming Addictions #2

John is a 40 year old marketing manager for a large company who was going through an extremely contentious divorce and custody battle for their 6 year old daughter following a 10-year high-conflict marriage. He admitted to his therapist that he had been using heroin to cope with this stress for several years. Because of his job status as well as his custody battle, he did not want to enter any kind of treatment program, not did he want any possible public knowledge of his addiction or treatment. Consequently, he decided to try a newer medical treatment for opiate addiction called subozone prescribed by a private doctor, discussed below.

New scientific understandings of brain chemistry are paving the way for significantly improved treatments for people who are addicted to heroin, opium, legally manufactured pain relievers such as morphine, OxyContin, Vicodin and Dilaudid and other opiate drugs.

According to Scott Farmen, featured in the recent HBO series on addiction, opiate abuse can bring about significant and long-lasting chemical changes in the brain. These changes cause a person to experience intense cravings and negative emotions when they try to stop. Because of this altered chemical state of the brain, the majority of opiate-addicted people who recover require medication in order to correct these changes, much as a diabetic requires insulin to maintain a more normal blood sugar level. The most commonly used medications for opiate addiction in the United States are methadone and buprenorphine. Trade names for buprenorphine include Temgesic, Buprenex, Subutex and Suboxone. Health professionals call treatment with such medications replacement therapy.

John opted for the replacement drug subozone, prescribed by a specialist he found on the internet. This solution seemed perfect for him. He felt he did not need long-term or extensive therapy for his addiction as he had not had the problem that long, he was still functioning at a very high level, and his drug use was connected to specific life stressors. Too, he was getting supplemental psychosocial support from AA meetings he was attending for occasional alcohol abuse problems.

In the HBO series mentioned above, Farmen goes on to explain that a common misconception about replacement therapy is that this treatment is really just substituting one drug of abuse for another and that people who utilize medications in treatment of opiate abuse are not really in recovery. This idea fails to recognize that recovering from opiate abuse is not a matter of will power or moral re-examination. It is a physical illness most effectively treated by using medications to regain physical stability first. Then, support groups or relapse prevention psychotherapy are often introduced to ensure a higher rate of recovery.

John responded very well to his subozone regime, requiring only several weeks of treatment. He reported that his urges for drugs “went to zero.” Fortunately, his divorce and child custody issue also resolved successfully during the same time period, which greatly reduced his stress and improved his chances of success with his short-term replacement therapy.

John was fortunate and also somewhat atypical of replacement therapy patients. Unlike many patients on replacement therapy, especially methadone, he did not need to remain on the medication for years, nor be present at a methadone clinic daily. He was also able to afford subozone which has fewer side effects but is much more expensive than methadone.

Both methadone and Buprenorphine allow people to function normally by stopping withdrawal symptoms, eliminating craving for opiates, blocking induced euphoria, and correcting the chemical abnormalities in the brain caused by opiate addiction.

One major difference between them is that Buprenorphine is regulated differently from methadone, making it more like other prescription drugs. This means that addicted patients like John can more easily adapt their medication into their lifestyle, reducing the negative attitudes often associated with methadone.

Anthony Fiore, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, anger management trainer,
and consultant to Penny Bail Bonds ( – a unique
bail agency that helps you put the pieces of your life back together, from jail
to referral to community resources.