Our Criminal Defense Law Firm Serves the Following Cities: Arleta, Burbank, Calabasas, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Encino, Glendale, Granada Hills, Hidden Hills, Lake Balboa, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Porter Ranch, Reseda, San Fernando, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar, Tarzana, Toluca Lake, Universal City, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, West Hills, Winnetka, Woodland Hills.
First, it is going to take you finding a local criminal defense attorney that appears on a frequent basis in the courthouse your case is pending. That is simply common sense. We specialize defending clients in all San Fernando Valley, California Superior Courts, including San Fernando Court, Van Nuys Court, Burbank Court, Glendale Court, and the Sylmar Juvenile Court.
If you do something all the time, know the people, know criminal defense, the system and are well respected…you are going to be able to get the job done for your client. The criminal defense community is a very small community and everyone that is on the “inside” knows all the key players and how to get the result that you are looking for!
I can not tell you how many times I have been sitting in court and see an attorney from the city approaching the prosecutors in either Van Nuys or San Fernando Court and run smack into a buzz saw! First, many criminal defense law firms now a days are using inexperienced attorneys to do the dirty work of actually going to court and fighting it out for the client. These youngsters are going to be eaten alive by an experienced prosecutor at the preliminary hearing. Next, if their firm is in the city, then they are probably more known in the Airport Court or the downtown Los Angeles Courthouses and therefore they do not know the temperament of the prosecutors and judges in the Valley.
On the other hand, if the client is looking to fight their case in a jury trial, then the attorneys locality to the courthouse is not as important. However, they still must know the tendencies of the jury pool, the prosecutors and the judges, if they want give their client the best possible result. Like anything in life, it is not always what you know, it is who you know. And, in criminal defense, your attorney better know the landscape of the courthouse your case is pending or you will suffer the consequences of their short comings.
I have had literally thousands of court appearances, including the arraignment and tried hundreds of jury trials over the past 20 plus years of practicing criminal defense and there is no question that if one of my loved ones was in trouble I would choose a local attorney over an outsider any day of the week.
This is a question that has to be on most people’s minds when they begin the difficult task of figuring out what to do after they have been arrested. Some may say that you should not be thinking about winning your case, but instead surviving it! However, if you define “win” in a realistic way as it relates to what you did or did not do to get arrested, then I think you have a chance to get a win.
The vast majority of criminal cases that are filed in the San Fernando Valley are resolved by way of a negotiated resolution between the criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor. That is not to say that cases are not being fought and won in front of a juries.
It is saying that it is not right for sales people or attorneys to be telling potential clients, when they call to inquire about their services, that they can get their case dismissed or be advertising that! This is irresponsible and does not make sense based on the statistics. So the key is to define what a win truly means based on your circumstances. Should your case be fought all the way because you are innocent or negotiated to a fair resolution?
In order to help define what a win is to you, first sit down with a seasoned criminal defense attorney and tell them your story in the most fair and honest manner you can. This way they will get a feel for what they can do to help you. You almost have to tell the story from the prosecutor’s standpoint, in order for the defense attorney to get a read on what they will be up against.
Once they have what the other side will say, then they will begin to ask what your position is and start to delve into possible solutions that will resolve the matter. However, if you put a twist or spin on what happened, you are only hurting yourself in the long run. Eventually your champion will be faced with the most difficult parts or your case, and if he or she was not told the truth from the beginning then there is no way they will be in a position to help you.
Whenever you’re talking about the pieces of a criminal case and how they work in the San Fernando Valley, the first thing you have to look at is the investigative phase. In other words, the phase where the police or law enforcement are investigating and deciding whether to file a case. Sometimes the investigative phase goes very quickly where the police either view a crime or are called out to a scene and make a decision that a crime has occurred and immediately arrest the person and send it to the prosecutors to charge a person.
But other times the investigative phase takes some time. A lot of times I will get called during the investigative phase and the client will ask me to represent them – basically pre-filing – act as a buffer between them and the police to make sure they don’t do anything during the investigative phase to put themselves in a worse position.
A perfect example would be giving a statement to the police that incriminates them. That’s usually the best evidence the police and prosecutors can obtain — somebody making a statement that later is used to incriminate them in a criminal case.
During the investigative phase, the police will execute search warrants, stop people, stop cars. They’ll also do surveillance where they watch and video tape people, or just view them with their own eyes and then record what they see. They’ll talk to witnesses and use other investigative techniques – whether it be searching documents, issuing subpoenas – all sorts of different things they can do and eventually they’ll make a decision of whether to file the case or not.
Also, what I see them do a lot is they’ll stop vehicles, and during that stop there can be what’s called either a detention or an arrest. During a detention, the police can do certain things, ask questions, check certain things. Once they make an arrest though, they’re going to need some sort of probable cause that criminal activity is afoot. If they arrest somebody unlawfully — search them, seize evidence — and then later the defense attorney can argue that that search was illegal, that seizure was illegal and then none of the evidence can be used against the client.
So, there’s a battle all the time between a detention and an arrest, because if it’s an arrest, certain things are required. The police, if they take custody of the person, and they start asking questions then the Miranda rights can apply. That’s one of the big battles when somebody is being stopped — whether it’s a detention or an arrest — and that obviously has been checked out by a criminal defense attorney.
The next phase in the anatomy of a criminal case in the San Fernando Valley is, the prosecutors filing the case and you going to court. At the court appearance bail is going to be set by the Judge. There’s going to be what’s called the arraignment, where the person enters either a not-guilty or guilty plea, or even a no contest plea. Sometimes the arraignment is continued for further investigation so the defense attorney can get more information and decide exactly how to handle the case moving forward, since a lot of times you’re just getting the information at that particular time.
Once a not-guilty plea is entered, then depending on whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor, the case will be sent in to a preliminary hearing court if it’s a felony. If it’s a misdemeanor it will be sent into a trial court. At that time the motion phase will take over and the defense can file motions. The prosecutor can file motions.
There are all sorts of different motions that can be filed. You’re not going to file a motion in every case and you’re not going to file the same motions in every case, it obviously depends on the circumstances of the case, what’s going on, what’s involved and whether or not a motion really is applicable. That’s why you have to sit down with your attorney. Give him all the information, go over the discovery/paperwork in the case and decide what the next move in the case is.
If the case is resolved, then that’s what’s called plea bargaining between the prosecutor and the defense attorney. Sometimes the judge will get involved in that process. The person will end up agreeing to plead guilty or no contest as to a certain charge or it will be some sort of a diversionary deal worked out and then that person will be sentenced by the judge depending on what type of a plea bargain is entered between the defense attorney, the judge and the prosecutor.
If there isn’t a plea bargain in a case, and sometimes there’s not for various reasons. A person may be innocent and they would fight the case in a felony, do the preliminary hearing and ultimately do the trial and the jury would find them guilty or not guilty of the charge. If they’re found guilty, then a judge would sentence them.
But sometimes we do what we call the litigation phase where we fight a case, we do the preliminary hearing, we attack the prosecutor’s witnesses and evidence — not so much because we necessarily think that we’re completely guilty, but because we want to do some damage to the prosecutor’s case, because by doing damage sometimes this will present the defendant’s version of events and put the defendant in the best position to now work out a better resolution for them.
If you damage the prosecutor’s case through cross examination, you show the prosecutor that their case has some issues. Maybe you point out that they’ve got the wrong charges against the defendant. By getting some of those charges dismissed at a preliminary hearing, then you’re in a much stronger position to argue that your client shouldn’t have to plead guilty to certain charges and maybe lesser offenses should be charged against you client.
So, if after you do some litigation, some motions, your case is better, now you’re in a position to try to argue for a better resolution in the case. Other times you’re doing the litigation because the client has indicated they’re innocent and you want to fight the case, take it front of a jury trial.
Obviously, part of the anatomy of a criminal case in the San Fernando Valley is that if you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you’re entitled to have a jury trial where twelve members from the community will be picked and they will decide whether or not you’re innocent or guilty of the crime.
Evidence will be presented by the prosecutor first because they have the burden of proof and because there’s a presumption of innocence and they have to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt against you. Once the prosecution is done, the defense has the option of putting on a defense if they want to.
They don’t have to. A criminal defendant has an absolute right to testify or not to testify. If a criminal defendant decides not to testify that cannot be used against them, and then ultimately, the jury will decide whether the person is innocent or guilty of the crime.
If they’re found innocent the case will be dismissed and you will be able to go on their merry way. If on the other hand, they’re found guilty of any of the charges, then a sentencing date will be set and the judge will determine what the ultimate sentence will be and the case will be concluded.
In my experience the first thing that is most effective for me in winning a criminal case is to have a winning attitude. When I walk into the courtroom to represent my client, I know the case inside and out, know exactly what I want to achieve for my client and believe deep in my bones that I am going to get it.