Learn the Best Strategies Against Murder Cases Being Prosecuted in the San Fernando Valley, CA
Many murder cases are prosecuted in the San Fernando Valley because of the huge population. There’s a lot of action going on and a lot of these murders are prosecuted either in the Van Nuys court, and the San Fernando court. California Penal Code 187 defines the crime of murder.
If it’s a high profile murder or serious enough, they will send the case to downtown Los Angeles to be prosecuted at the main hub court, 210 West Temple.
I’ve handled hundreds of murder cases over the last 26 years in the San Fernando Valley courts and I have a pretty good idea for how they’re prosecuted. I think the first look to see whether they can actually get a conviction for murder (CALCRIM 520), and if they think they can, then they will file the case as either first or second degree murder depending on whether it was planned and what the facts and circumstances are surrounding the case.
Voluntary Manslaughter or Assault with Deadly Weapon
I do see a lot of these murder cases being prosecuted in such a way that they probably shouldn’t be in the Valley courts. For example, a lot of times people really shouldn’t be charged with murder and it’s more of a voluntary manslaughter situation or assault with a deadly weapon situation. It shouldn’t be prosecuted as a murder case.
But the prosecutors — once they slap that murder charge on somebody in one of the San Fernando Valley courts — that really puts a lot of pressure on that person because now the person is potentially looking at a back-end of life imprisonment.
For second degree murder, if could be 15 to life imprisonment. For first degree murder, it can be 25 to life, and if somebody used a weapon, that could add another 25 years potentially on the back of somebody’s sentence.
So, with those type of numbers being thrown around, that really puts the prosecutors in these cases in a strong negotiating position because the person is looking at so much time in custody.
Negotiation with Prosecutor for Reduced Charges
That’s why it’s so important to get an attorney like me who’s been down this road before, had success, knows the value of a case, knows how to win a case, knows when it’s time to negotiate a case.
That’s crucial when you’re in the decision-making process — to be able to have that wisdom to know exactly how to handle the case — what to do, who to speak to, when to fight the case, when not fight the case.
That’s really what I have to do when people retain me for a murder case in the San Fernando Valley — I have to sit down with the family. I have to sit down with the person who’s being charged and we have to make some hard decisions about whether this is a type of case that we can win at a jury trial or whether this is the type of case where we have to negotiate with the prosecutors.
Believe it or not, sometimes that decision in a murder case is made for us. The prosecutors say, we’re not offering anything. If your client wants to plead, he can take 15 to life, otherwise we’re taking the case to trial. In that case, you have no choice but to defend the case.
Deciding with Client How They Want to Proceed
So, the first decision that I’m trying to make when I sit down with my client and the family to talk about a murder case is, how are we going to proceed? Are we going to try to fight the case? Are we going to try to resolve the case?
Is it smart to have an eye towards resolving the case, but to try to damage the case at the preliminary hearing? These are the types of conversations we’re having. Obviously, I’ve got to have all the evidence from the prosecutors. I have to review that. I have to speak to the prosecutors to see what their position is.
Then I’ll sit down with my client and say, here’s what the prosecutor is saying. Here’s what the evidence looks like. You tell me from your perspective what’s going on and I will put that all together with my experience.
I’ve having handled murder cases in the San Fernando Valley for the last 26 years, having worked for the DA’s office, having worked for a Superior Court judge and having been a criminal defense attorney since 1994, I can make a decision for a client.
I can help the client make the right decision when it comes to these type of cases, and trust me, it’s crucial what types of moves and decisions you make because it will alter the rest of your life if you’re being charged in the San Fernando Valley with murder.