These are potentially very serious charges that can be prosecuted in a number of different ways. If your friend is in custody, a lawyer at this point can interview him and start developing defenses through investigation. He can also advise him not to make any statements to the police. It is amazing how slight variations in the story can make enormous differences in consequences in this type of case. If your friend waits, he is not likely to communicate with an appointed attorney until just before a preliminary hearing.
A skilled private attorney can contact the prosecution before charges are filed and obtain a dismissal or a reduction in charges if possible. I know I have. Public Defenders do not get appointed until after charges are filed so they cannot do this. www.losangelesdefenders.com
Certainly my colleagues have made some excellent points, but if your friend has no money, he'll probably have to wait for the public defender to be appointed. My only comment is that It never ceases to amaze me how people get themselves into these situations and then have no money for an attorney when they eventually get arrested. Guess that's why we have the public defender.
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