Suppose you've been arrested in Los Angeles county Close to the courthouse at 210 West Temple, also known as the Criminal Courts Building (CCB), the Clara Foltz Courthouse. In that case, you will appear in Department 30 if you're being charged with a felony case. That's the arraignment court.
What happens is that the doors usually open up around 8:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. The Bailiffs come out and check everybody in. If you've hired an attorney, which I strongly urge you to do, your attorney can get in there and speak to the court clerk, give a business card, get any paperwork related to the case, and find out who the prosecutor is on the case.
Sometimes it's a specially-assigned prosecutor depending on the type of charges. Other times, the arraignment, where you enter your plea of guilty or not guilty, will be handled by the prosecutor who sits in there all day.
Another big thing that will happen at your arraignment in Department 30 is they're going to set bail. So, let's say, for example, you're charged with robbery, and your bail is $50,000.
You've posted the $50,000, and you show up in court. Believe it or not, your bail can change.
If more serious charges are filed, or you have a prior strike, for example, they can move your bail up from $50,000 to $100,000, $150,000, $200,000, and now you're going to be taken into custody.
You want an attorney to argue that your bail should not be increased. That's number one.
And number two, if you've hired your attorney before the court date, your attorney may be able to anticipate that they will try to raise the bail.
We can have a bail bondsman there if the bail gets raised; you can post the bail and be released from the courthouse once you're booked in on the new bail. That's one thing that happens.
In some cases, the prosecutor could request a hold pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1275.1, known as a “1275 hold.”
Under this law, if there is probable showing that the bail money posted was obtained from the defendant's criminal behavior, they will not be allowed to use those funds for bail.
Any funds posted for bail must first be evaluated at a hearing to determine whether the funds posted came from legitimate sources.
Preliminary Hearing Court
Your criminal defense attorney will decide whether the case will be set into one of the preliminary hearing courts on the third floor or on the fifth floor in Department 50, which is their early disposition program court.
If you're going to resolve your case by way of negotiation, you probably want to set it there because that court is designed to give the best resolutions. The prosecutor there will be more apt, and the judge will be more prone to provide you with a more favorable solution than if you went to one of the preliminary hearing courts.
Of course, strategy-wise, as an attorney, I sometimes want to put it through a preliminary hearing and wish to challenge the prosecution's case because sometimes I'll read the police report, and I will have talked to my client.
I'll know some facts and details that are helpful to my client, yet they're not in the police report. We can get those facts and details out, depending on the circumstances, by doing a preliminary hearing so we can cross-examine the witnesses.
We can also ask questions and put evidence in, and now when you go to negotiate, you have all of the facts that are favorable to you – not just the facts that the police gather – not just the facts that are favorable to the prosecutor.
What is the Arraignment Process?
In a California criminal case, the first court appearance by the defendant is usually arraignment. Several essential steps will be taken of which the defendant should be aware.
It's the first stage of court proceedings and the defendant's first appearance in front of a judge, where they ate told the criminal charges against them and asked to enter a plea.
Defendants and their defense lawyer are provided a copy of the criminal complaint and police report, and then the issue of bail can be argued before the judge.
If the defendant does not enter a plea of “no contest” or “guilt,” the judge will schedule a future court date.
The judge sets a pretrial date if a defendant is charged with a misdemeanor. For a felony, the case will be set for a preliminary hearing or sent to an early disposition court in an attempt to resolve it.
For a felony, two different arraignments might occur. The first will occur after charges are filed and the second after the preliminary hearing if the defendant is held to answer to the criminal charges.
When someone is arrested for a crime, they can't be held in custody for 48 hours without going to court, not including weekends or holidays.
After an arrest, they could be released by the police and provided with a future court date or post bail. After a bond has been posted, they will be given a future court date to appear.
In a felony case, defendants must appear personally for arraignment. A lawyer can appear on their behalf on misdemeanors as defined under California Penal Code Section 977(a).
Contact the Hedding Law Firm
So, long story short, if you've got a case at CCB, 210 West Temple, that criminal court is the central downtown hub court, and you want to hire an attorney to appear for you because there are a lot of important decisions that need to be made at that first court appearance.
Your rights are in jeopardy, and you want to ensure your case is moving in the right direction.
I've handled cases there now for over 30 years. I've worked for the district attorney's office, I've worked for a superior court judge, and I have worked for people just like you since the early 1990s.
Pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you. We offer a free case evaluation by phone, or you can fill out the contact form.