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Michael K. Cernyar

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  • Top 100 Criminal Lawyer

    National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Criminal Lawyer award

  • Best Criminal Lawyer Fighting For Your Rights!

    Realize your constitutional right for qualified legal representation.

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Practice Areas

Michael Cernyar has considerable experience in successfully defending individuals and companies accused of a wide range of criminal acts. As examples, he has handled multiple cases involving allegations of the following:

  • The most common offenses such as misdemeanors, DUI, domestic violence, shoplifting, identity theft, assault, battery, drunk in public & petty theft
  • Economic offenses such as fraud, theft, burglary, and robbery
  • Protecting Victim's Rights, including the right not to testify
  • Computer crimes such as cyber stalking, cyber harassment, revenge porn, hacking, spoofing & unauthorized access
  • Violent offenses such as homicide, rape, sex crimes, and arson
  • Drug offenses such as possession, medical marijuana, sales, etc.


We realize how difficult it is to earn a dollar in today's economy so we don't charge Beverly Hills rates. Here's an example of our fees:

  • Free Consultation & Validated Parking
  • Expungements start at $999.
  • Pre-filing fees start at $2,000.
  • Many misdemeanors from $2,499 to $5,999
  • First time DUIs start at $2,999.
  • Felonies start at $3,499 through preliminary phase; trial phase varies.
  • Accepts major credit cards and has payment plans.

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About Us

Award Winning Defense Lawyer


JUL 2014

Elected to receive the distinguished Top 100 Criminal Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers. National Trial Lawyers web page

MAR 2014

Received 2014 Top Criminal Lawyer in California award recognized as the Highest in Ethical Standards and Professional Excellence.

JAN 2014

Received the distinguised Avvo's Top Contributor award.

JUN 2013

Received the distinguished Avvo's Client's Choice award.

MAY 2013

Received 2013 Top Criminal Lawyer in California award recognized as the Highest in Ethical Standards and Professional Excellence.

APR 2013

Received the distinguished Avvo's Client's Top Defense Lawyer award with a superb ranking of 10 (top rank). AVVO ranking web page

DEC 2008

Nominated as Long Beach's best criminal lawyer

SEP 2005

Nominated as the Cochran Firm's best defense lawyer

Background & Principles

  • Mr. Cernyar handles every case and treats each case as if its his own. I am not like many law firms who have one guy that mass markets to many cities in Southern California and then passes off the case to a different attorney so they can pad their bank account. I'm here to win your case.
  • Our caseload is selective. We do no run a client mill -- your case is important to us. Hence we limit our caseload so that every client receives priority attention.
  • Mr. Cernyar and his staff promptly returns your phone calls.
  • We treat our clients with respect.
  • Mr. Cernyar learned how to fight growing up on the southside of Chicago and he will FIGHT FOR YOU!!!
  • Mr. Cernyar is a hard working individual who as a high school sophomore would work the swing shift at a local factory on the southside of Chicago; sometimes pulling two shifts before returning to school the same morning.
  • As a high school senior he worked at a steel mill after school, putting in a minimum 40 hours a week while in school and still was academically ranked in the top 10% in the country.
  • Mr. Cernyar paid his own way through Purdue University.
  • He attended the evening program at Loyola Law School, while being employed full time at Paramount Studios.


  • A member of the Robert Blake defense team, in which Mr. Blake was acquitted of murder.
  • Successfully defended Mr. Blinkenberg, who stabbed his wife more than 30 times and admitted such on the stand. Hung Santa Ana jury with nine jurors voting "not guilty."
  • Lead defense attorney in the Malibu murder matter (Airport Courthouse) in which murder charges were dismissed at the preliminary hearing.
  • Had all charges dismissed in Malibu court for a client who was wrongfully accused of cyberstalking and harassment.
  • 3rd striker and felon with a gun -- worked out a deal for straight probation in Merced County.
  • Successfully defended medical marijuana client in Bellflower courthouse in which all charges were dropped at the preliminary hearing.
  • Had all computer charges dismissed in preliminary hearing for client in Westminster.
  • Had all charges for witness tampering dismissed in preliminary hearing at the Long Beach Courthouse.
  • Domestic Violence case in Long Beach Courthouse -- case dismissed over prosecutor's objection.
  • Successfully represented many Domestic Violence victims who did not wish to prosecute case.

Our Services

Our emphasis is in criminal law in California and throughout the United States. We practice federal and state law.


Michael Cernyar’s practice in appeals includes experience in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, along withCalifornia's Appellate Court.

In any appeals case, an appellate lawyer will be looking for court committed errors or attorney committed errors (substantive errors or procedural errors), or the appellate attorney will argue that the facts considered by the previous jury were wrong.

Since the courts of appeals possess only appellate jurisdiction, they do not hold trials. Instead, appeals courts decide only the question of whether the trial court followed proper procedures in reaching its conclusion in a particular case. Accordingly, an appeals court considers only the record (that is, the papers the parties filed and the transcripts and any exhibits from any trial) from the trial court, and the legal arguments of the parties. These arguments, which are presented in written form, and can range in length from dozens to hundreds of pages, are paradoxically known as “briefs.” Sometimes lawyers are permitted to add to their written briefs with oral arguments before the appeals judges. At such hearings, only the parties' lawyers are allowed to speak to the court.

The court of appeals cannot find anyone “guilty” or “not guilty” since the appeals court is judging the trial itself, not the defendant, no one is ever convicted or sentenced by an appeals court. When a convicted client “wins” an appeal, it does not mean that he is now found to be innocent. It means that his trial was judged by the appeals court to have been improperly conducted in one way or another. The client is still subject to being tried again on the same charges. Sometimes the prosecutor will opt not to try the client again. Accordingly, the charges may be dismissed entirely. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

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Criminal Charges

In addition to his legal studies, Michael Cernyar graduated with honors in economics and subsribes to the theory of freakonomics, the study of incentives. Studies have shown that 60% of the people charged with a crime are guilty. However, more than 80% of those people charged are being convicted. Thus, innocent people are being convicted everyday. Why?

Michael's theory is that the high conviction rate of innocent people is due to many issues, but Sheeple is a significant reason. Sheeple are people who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or thought. They tend to blindly accept and take statements at face value. Remarkably, Sheeple deep down believe that everyone charged with a crime is guilty.

Sheeple come in all walks of life. The policeman who blindly believes the alleged victim. The prosecutor who blindly believes the policeman. The judge or jurist who blindly believes the police and/or prosecutor. Sadly, even some defense attorneys are Sheeple.

Sheeple tend to spend the vast majority of their day electronically wired to audio, radio, video, electronic games, television and/or the Internet. They spend more time listening to someone else's opinions & beliefs and little time applying critical thought or having a fresh idea of their own. Sheeple have the propensity to be news junkies, watch fabricated and reality television shows, and read fictional books. They tend to be brainwashed into certain opinions and beliefs and are incapable of applying critical thought to your set of facts.

Michael Cernyar has been studying the phenomenon of Sheeple for years. He knows what makes Sheeple tick, when to avoid them and when to exploit them. That is one of many reasons for Michael's success.

If you are wrongfully accused, then you may find that you are stymied by a system that would preferably convict the wrongfully accused than admit a mistake. You may be entirely innocent. Or maybe you are not entirely innocent, but are accused with serious violations you did not commit. Every case has flaws. Michael Cernyar has the wisdom to discover and exploit the serious and significant flaws in your case so that he can defend you and your Rights during this troubling period in your life.

Michael Cernyar believes in winning. When results matter – you will want the intensity and the experience Michael K. Cernyar brings to your case. Trust the experience and proven results of one of the finest defense lawyers in California.

Here's a small example of the types of cases we have successfully defended clients:
Assault & Battery | Burglary | Counterfeit Goods | Criminal Threats | Domestic Violence | Drug Possession | Drunk In Public | DUI | Expungement | Federal Crimes | Firearms | Hit & Run | Homicide / Murder | Internet | Juvenile | Manslaughter | Three Strikes | Warrants


If your property was seized, then you may find that you are stymied by a system that would preferably keep the seized property than admit a mistake. You may be entirely innocent of any wrong doing, but nevertheless the property was seized. For example you may have unknowingly purchased an asset from an unsavory character and now the Government demands the asset you rightfully possess. Or you may have entered the United States and forgot to declare an asset at Customs. In these cases and others, the Government will keep the seized property if one fails or refuses to exercise their Rights.

There four doctrines in forfeiture law. The four doctrines include: 1) the relation back doctrine, the heart of forfeiture law; 2) the innocent owner exemption; 3) property subject to forfeiture; and 4) disproportionality. The difference between civil and criminal proceedings are that in civil proceedings some tests are subjective and in criminal proceedings those same tests may be objective.

To simplify the typical forfeiture process, the standard is not beyond a reasonable doubt for the Government to prove that the property should be forfeited. It is a lesser standard, hence making it easier for the Government to prevail. Therefore in forfeiture law, the Government only needs to contend that the seized property is subject to forfeiture. Under asset forfeiture law the best strategy is to trace the proceeds to a legitimate purpose and not to a bank account or a relative.

In forfeiture proceedings, time is of the essence. It is crucial to respond immediately to the Government's notice. Moreover, it is very important that the response is timely, thorough and precise because the law is design so that if any requirement is missing the Government prevails.

Having practiced forfeiture defense for several years, I wish to share with you some information that is essential to your defense. Early involvement by your civil asset forfeiture lawyer is crucial.

When you are facing asset forfeiture proceedings, retaining a civil asset forfeiture lawyer soon after receiving notice is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, failing to respond to the notice in a timely matter may result in a default, meaning that the seized property is lost forever to the government. Second, a timely response must be completed properly, or again the seized property may result in default. Moreover, in addition to the time constraints, many crucial decisions must be made within 30 days of the notice.

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Victim's Rights

Victims have rights. In many cases the victim's rights are trampled upon so it's best to retain an attorney to enforce those rights. Here are some of the rights that victims have.

In the state of California, victims of domestic violence can refuse to testify against their abusers. Prior to 2009 and the enactment of Marsy’s Law, the California courts had the authority to punish victims of domestic violence with jail terms and community service for refusing to testify. Today, however, due to the implementation of Marsy’s Law, uncooperative victims cannot be given jail terms and community service for refusing to testify, so long as they appear at trial in accordance with the requirements of their subpoenas.

Victims have many more rights under Marsy's Law including:

  • To be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse, throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process.
  • To be reasonably protected from the defendant and persons acting on behalf of the defendant.
  • To have the safety of the victim and the victim’s family considered in fixing the amount of bail and release conditions for the defendant.
  • To prevent the disclosure of confidential information or records to the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, which could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family or which disclose confidential communications made in the course of medical or counseling treatment, or which are otherwise privileged or confidential by law.
  • To refuse an interview, deposition, or discovery request by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interview to which the victim consents.
  • To reasonable notice of and to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding, the arrest of the defendant if known by the prosecutor, the charges filed, the determination whether to extradite the defendant, and, upon request, to be notified of and informed before any pretrial disposition of the case.
  • To reasonable notice of all public proceedings, including delinquency proceedings, upon request, at which the defendant and the prosecutor are entitled to be present and of all parole or other post-conviction release proceedings, and to be present at all such proceedings.
  • To be heard, upon request, at any proceeding, including any delinquency proceeding, involving a post-arrest release decision, plea, sentencing, post-conviction release decision, or any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.
  • To a speedy trial and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.
  • To provide information to a probation department official conducting a pre-sentence investigation concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and the victim’s family and any sentencing recommendations before the sentencing of the defendant.
  • To receive, upon request, the pre-sentence report when available to the defendant, except for those portions made confidential by law.
  • To be informed, upon request, of the conviction, sentence, place and time of incarceration, or other disposition of the defendant, the scheduled release date of the defendant, and the release of or the escape by the defendant from custody.
  • To restitution.
    1. It is the unequivocal intention of the People of the State of California that all persons who suffer losses as a result of criminal activity shall have the right to seek and secure restitution from the persons convicted of the crimes causing the losses they suffer.
    2. Restitution shall be ordered from the convicted wrongdoer in every case, regardless of the sentence or disposition imposed, in which a crime victim suffers a loss.
    3. All monetary payments, monies, and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution shall be first applied to pay the amounts ordered as restitution to the victim.
  • To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence.
  • To be informed of all parole procedures, to participate in the parole process, to provide information to the parole authority to be considered before the parole of the offender, and to be notified, upon request, of the parole or other release of the offender.
  • To have the safety of the victim, the victim’s family, and the general public considered before any parole or other post-judgment release decision is made.
  • To be informed of the rights enumerated above.


An expungement is the process of filing a motion with the court to request to seal a prior misdemeanor conviction. It is important to remember that an expungement does NOT remove the prior conviction permanently. Law enforcement, i.e. the police, FBI, immigration officers, and other public officials may still see sealed court files for certain purposes. Typically, people ask for an expungement for employment purposes, or when they want to apply to a college, or were denied housing, or were denied a professional license because of their record.

Legal Eagle Reputation

Our clients believe we are the best because we are fully prepared and better prepared than the other side. Because of this work ethic Michael K. Cernyar has received recognition for his efforts on behalf of his clients. When Michael was with the Cochran Firm and he was nominated as their best defense lawyer in 2005. He was a member of the Robert Blake defense team. Michael was recently nominated as Long Beach's Best Defense Lawyer. Other's consider Michael Cernyar as one of the best defense attorneys in the nation. Yelp rating

Legal Beagle Work Effort

Michael K. Cernyar is known as a skillful and clever attorney. He will trail and track each fact in your case in search of mistakes. Michael is known to discover the mistakes and exploit them to his client's advantage.

This Is How We Are Different

For starters, our caseload is low compared to other attorneys so our focus is on obtaining great results for the few clients we do have. Many of our clients are referrals from past clients. You have never seen an ad or a listing for our firm in the Yellow Pages. We don't send flyer's to people's homes. We won't accept court appointed cases. And yet in our opinon, we maintain the best looking offices in all of Los Angeles. When our clients step into our offices they realize that they are with a successful law practice.

Many times an individual is charged with a crime and is no where near the victim. The defendant can't prove it. He or she has no other apparent alibi. But, wait -- many of today's cell phones contain gps data. The data on the cell phone may be their alibi. At our firm we offer cell phone analysis to assist our clients in their defense.

Far too often other firms will have you initially meet with a senior attorney and then hand you off to a junior attorney once you sign with them. Michael is the senior attorney and will be handling your matter from start to finish because he feels you are too important to pass your case off as a learning experience to a younger attorney. Moreover, Michael realizes you want someone with experience who has seen cases like yours before.

Finally, we will never ask you how many lawyers you have visited or the names of the attorneys you have visited. Frankly, its none of our business. Further, we don't care whom you met with because if you were impressed with them you wouldn't be calling us. We are only concern about you and your results. Our satisfaction is driven by what we can accomplish for you. We could care less about other attorneys. Our only focus is on our clients, not some other law firm. Watch YouTube Video

What To Expect At A Free Consultation

A free consultation is not an opportunity for the attorney that you are in front of to bad mouth other attorneys. I let my experience do the talking.

The free consultation should be about you and your case. We will discuss what to expect, how the process works, the various judges and what to expect from them, the various prosecutors and how each one is different, worst case scenarios, best case scenarios, strategies and other factors. The purpose of a free consultation is to provide confidence that 1) the attorney has a personality that you can work with, and 2) the attorney is more than capable in handling your situation.

Misdemeanor v. Felony

A misdemeanor refers to criminal activity that is punisable by one year or less in the local jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. A felony refers to criminal activity that is punishable by more than one year in the prison system and/or a fine of a maximum of $10,000. A wobbler refers to criminal activity that is charged as a felony, but has a possibility of being reduced to a misdemeanor. In matters involving a wobbler, many times a reputable lawyer can either have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor or in the alternative have the felony appear to be a misdemeanor so that the felony can be expunged at a later date, which is good strategy since the typical felony cannot be expunged. Defense Lawyer

How Is Long Beach Courthouse Different?

If there are allegations that you committed a crime in Long Beach, San Pedro, Wilmington or the unincorporated area of Torrance, it is likely that your matter will be heard in the Long Beach courthouse. The Long Beach courthouse is one of the more conservative courthouses in the area. It is likely that you will be serving hard jail time if convicted. Recently a young man charged with drunk in public was sentenced to 60 days in jail and a court order that bars him from traveling to certain parts of Long Beach. Long Beach is a tough court.

If you retain a Long Beach criminal lawyer who knows the courthouse well, then there is a better chance to have your case dismissed or a sentence reduced to no jail time. Many Long Beach criminal lawyers provide free consultation so meeting with a respectable Long Beach criminal lawyer is likely to improve your opportunity for a dismissal or a reduced sentence which will affect your present and future quality of life. A defendant in the courthouse needs the expertise of a strong Long Beach defense attorney.

Your Long Beach defense lawyer should be experienced in criminal law and cognizant not only of the law, but also the personalities and individuals involved in their local cases. It may be extremely helpful when your lawyer is known and respected in the local courts by judges and prosecutors, which may make the difference between dismissal, jail time and acquittal.

Long Beach Courthouse Address

The Long Beach Courthouse is located at 275 Magnolia, on the corner of Broadway and Magnolia in downtown Long Beach.

California Top Attorney

Do you need an attorney who will fight tooth and nail, clawing to get the result you desire? Someone who takes on a case as though he's representing himself? An attorney that looks for and exploits the mistakes made during the investigation and/or prosecution of the case? We are that firm.. Read More

  • Michael K. Cernyar

    Considered one of the best criminal lawyers in the United States. Michael brings to your defense expertise and an innovative way to look at your case.

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  • Top California Attorney

    Recipient of 2013 & 2014 Top Lawyers in California award

  • Top AVVO Rating

    The Avvo Rating is an evaluation on a lawyer's background, based upon a calculated mathematical model andinformation AVVO has collected on the attorney.


Welcome to our blog: News, comments, and hints to current court rulings of our fields of law as well as current information on our attorney's office.

Case Studies

forfeiture lawyer

Forfeiture - All Cash Returned

The Federal government seized more than $100,000 from client claiming that client recieved the cash through illegal activity.

The Verdict

Through our perseverance and superior knowledge the entire amount was returned.

victim's rights

Victim's Rights

Victim & husband get into a dispute. Nosy neighbor calls the police. Despite no injuries to the wife, the police arrest the husband for battery. Wife doesn't wish to pursue charges, but the prosecutor refuses wife's request. We are retained to represent the wife's interests.

The Result

Through our perseverance and superior knowledge the prosecution finally listened to the wife and the charges were dropped.

long beach homicide


The Charges

Client is accused of murdering his girlfriend and then dumping the body.

The Verdict

Murder charges dropped at the preliminary hearing.

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