19200 VON KARMAN AVE. SUITE 400, IRVINE CA, 92620
After graduating from Loyola Law School, Mr. Kim worked as a deputy district attorney in OC for 7 years prosecuting thousands of misdemeanor and felony cases. He was then assigned to the Special Prosecutions Unit which was responsible for prosecuting cases that were media sensitive and involving defendants that are in positions of trust. (ie. politicians or police officers) He resigned from the DA’s Office to start a private practice focused on criminal defense. He has been in private practice for the last 13 years.
Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding about this job?
A: I get to help individual people. In private practice, I get to meet clients and their families. If the client is a minor, I get to meet their parents and kind of figure out what happened and basically guide them through the process and make sure that they're treated fairly and not being taken advantage of because they're being charged with a crime. I find that to be the most rewarding.
Q: How long does it take to become a criminal attorney?
A: You have to go through 4 years of college and then you go through three years of law school. For some, it takes two or four years, depending on your situation but generally, it's three years and then after that, you have to pass the bar exam. The bar in California is the hardest bar in the entire nation and that's undisputed; it is a three-year, three-day bar but I believe they reduced it to two years and have also lowered the passing rate because the passing rate in California was just horrendous earlier and they wanted to give everyone a fair chance. I believe that the last bar exam passing rate was around the low 40s so it's a pretty hard exam, so studying is very important; you want to make sure that you pass it at least within the first couple of times.
Q: Have you ever gotten a death threat or anything scary? (what was the scariest part about your job?)
a: I have never received a death threat because most of my clients are very nice people that just happened to make a poor decision or they come from a difficult situation or it was just a spur-of-the-moment type thing. I have had one person call me to express their displeasure and threatened to come to my office to have a conversation with me but no death threats. In my opinion and statistically proven, family attorneys and divorce attorneys tend to be a more dangerous type of law because you're dealing with people's emotions or you're taking kids away from someone, those types of things, and those tend to be more dangerous.
Q: What type of crime in juvenile cases is the most common that you’ve seen?
a: I see a lot of vandalism cases (kids go out and graffiti things), vandalization of cars, and each other's houses. I have even had a case where kids threw eggs at somebody's house and that caused monetary damage. I've also seen petty theft (some shoplifting cases), I get a lot of those. I actually get a lot of gang cases because you know gang members a lot of the time start as teenagers, so I get a lot of serious cases regarding those.
Q: Do you think it's more important to punish or rehabilitate criminals?
a: I believe in rehabilitation to a certain point. We need to figure out what went wrong, what happened to them, their family background, address the issue, and see if we can guide them towards the right path. However, I also believe that there are certain people that just can't be fixed and with those types of people, we need to make sure that we are protected. Still, in most cases, I believe rehabilitation is the way to go.
Q: Would you have a criminal record if you are arrested as a minor?
A: It will be on your juvenile record and your juvenile record will be sealed Once you turn 18. So even let's say you are not convicted or you're not fishing is not sustained that record will remain but the good thing about juvenile cases is that once you turn 18 and you go through certain processes or even I think after 25 automatically your records are sealed with exceptions obviously so that's there for a while but it gets sealed.
Q: What exactly does being on parole mean and what happens during your parole period?
A: You will not be put on parole as a minor because that's something that happens when you're an adult, so I think the term you're looking for is probation. Probation is the court giving you a chance to minimize your damage but if you screw up then they give you everything you're supposed to get. For example, if you commit a crime that you're supposed to be punished for three years and the court offers you probation, they might also attach some probation terms. This could mean doing community service, spending time in juvie hall, taking classes, or just good behavior. If you meet certain conditions, the court will take you off probation and you will be done with the case. However, if you violate terms of your probation by committing another crime or not following up with your classes, you will come back to court and the court will put you in custody for 3 years.
Q: Can you give us an example of what to not say (in the event that we forget to not talk...) like what is an example
A: You should avoid saying anything because once you say it, you can't take it back and it can bite you later, especially if you have committed a crime. Let's say you are in the unfortunate situation that you did commit a crime, if you talk to the cops, you're either going to lie or tell the truth. Both of these put your defense attorney and your case in a difficult situation. The number one rule is don't say anything until you talk to your attorney or your parents.