San Fernando Valley Criminal Defense Attorney

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Van Nuys Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal Lawyer Serving All of San Fernando Valley Courts

WHY IS A PRELIMINARY HEARING SUCH AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE DEFENSE IN A CRIMINAL CASE?

This is the defense's first opportunity to attack the prosecution's case. The defense attorney gets the opportunity to cross-examine each of the prosecutor's witnesses under penalty of perjury. This gives the defense a chance to lock the witnesses into their story and then go out and investigate what they claim and see if evidence can be established that shows the witness is not telling the truth or has exaggerated their testimony. An effective preliminary hearing cross-examination can destroy the prosecutor's case or at least damage it enough to set up a future successful negotiation.

In my experience, the prosecutors and judges (who are usually former prosecutors) try and rush through the preliminary hearing stage and not allow the defense to gain any ground at this point in the proceedings. The best defense attorneys will fight tooth and nail against this abuse of the process. Another thing the prosecutor and judge will do is not permit the defense to gather all available evidence before conducting the preliminary hearing. This is a particular problem in the Los Angeles criminal court system. I find myself battling this tendency and not conceeding the prosecutors attempts to hide evidence from the defense or they are just simply too lazy to go and get it. A good defense attorney must demand the evidence and turn over every possible lead in the defense of their client!

If you have been arrested for a crime and have gone through the arraignment process, the next step is the preliminary hearing often referred to as the prelim. The prelim is to determine if there is sufficient evidence to justify having you answer for the alleged charges.

The prelim is the answer to the question of whether there is enough probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and if there is enough probable cause to believe that you, the defendant, are the person who committed the crime.

The burden of proof is on the prosecution to show probable cause. The prosecution must just show probable cause at the prelim and then during the jury trial, the prosecution must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

As a defendant you have legal rights that we, as your Van Nuys criminal defense attorney, will make sure you exercise. For one, you have a legal right to an attorney, the right to confront and cross examine witnesses, the right to produce defense witnesses, the right to be free from physical restraint.

If the judge makes a factual finding that there is no probable cause to have a trial, the finding is binding on the prosecutor. The prosecution may be able to re-file another complaint or file a motion to reinstate the dismissed counts. Legal findings are not binding and the prosecution may choose to re-file.

During a prelim, the judge may also make the decision to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor. We play a huge part in this and do everything we can to get charges dismissed and/or reduced.

If the judge happens to find probable cause as to the charges during the prelim, we do not quit! We can file a motion called a 995 motions which is another challenge to probable cause. The prosecution, in response to a 995 motion, must offer sufficient proof to each element of the crime being charged.

If you are facing a crime, we have the necessary experience, skill, and knowledge to effectively and competently represent you.

Contact us for a free face to face case evaluation and we will discuss everything further in detail.

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The Hedding Law Firm

Phone: (818) 986-2092 | (866) 986-2092
The Hedding Law Firm
Phone: (818) 986-2092
Encino-San Fernando Valley Address:
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436
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Los Angeles-Downtown Address:
445 South Figueroa St
#2700
Los Angeles, CA 90071