Criminal Defense in Los Angeles County, California

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, everything is at stake. You face the single most significant event that can change someone's life. If you believe you are being investigated for a crime, were recently arrested, or were contacted by police, stop what you are doing and get a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney.

Do not speak to anyone about your case until you talk to your defense lawyer. Even if you are not under arrest, anything you say can be used against you. Contacting our  Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers in Encino, CA, is the most critical step you can take to protect your freedom.

Do not wait to see what happens, and under no circumstances should you try to handle your case alone. The best choice you can make to protect yourself is to get a lawyer on your side right away.

When Do I Enter A Plea In My Criminal Case?

Typically, your first court appearance is called your arraignment, and the judge will expect a plea. We will enter a not guilty plea in most cases regardless of whether the person is innocent or guilty. We want to have the opportunity to review all the paperwork, sit down, and discuss it before deciding, strategically, precisely what we're going to do.

Sometimes, we may have a mind to plead guilty, but we don't want to plead guilty to the charges we are charged with, so we'll go to the prosecutors and try and get some lesser charges. Other times, we don't want to plead guilty at all. We want to fight the case. Then, we will take the case to a jury trial, so we'll enter a not guilty plea and move the topic to the next phase.

To determine whether I think a client should plead guilty or not, I will review all the paperwork and get the client's input. I'll talk to the prosecutor and decide whether or not we need to do some investigation. I'll send my investigator out if it makes sense, and then we'll probably be in a position to discuss whether you should take some deal or fight the case.

The primary factor I look at is the client. What do they want to do? Do they want to fight this case? Do they want to risk more potential punishment, or do they want me to go in and try to work out a plea bargain?

If the client committed the crime and we think the prosecution can prove it, we're looking to resolve the case through a plea bargain. If, on the other hand, the client feels they didn't do anything wrong, we're going to push the case to trial and do everything we can to defend them.

If you're innocent, you should never plead guilty under any circumstances. You should put all your resources into defending yourself and ensuring that you've found not guilty. If, on the other hand, the prosecutors have the evidence to prove you guilty, you should let your criminal defense attorney work out a resolution for you.

We all have a right to fight the case if we are innocent. Even if we can't afford an attorney, we can get a public defender to represent us. The biggest travesty of justice is when people make a deal because they don't feel they can afford to fight. If you're innocent, you should fight and be found not guilty.

Can The Prosecutor Drop All My Charges After I'm Arrested?

If you hire an attorney, that attorney can reach out to the prosecutors and try and give them other evidence that the police might not have gathered to consider everything. If they decide not to file the charges, you never get them filed against you.

When your attorney shows up in court, they are informed that the prosecutors have decided not to file charges. Sometimes, they send the case out for further investigation, which means they're not going to file now, but they may file in the future. Other times, they will file charges in court. Your criminal defense attorney will bring forth other evidence that they didn't consider, resulting in a dismissal or reduction of the charges.

What Happens If I Post Bail But Fail To Appear On My Court Date?

Bail gets you out of jail so that you can appear in court. If you fail to appear at that time, the judge will typically issue a warrant for your arrest, revoke your bail, and possibly set the bail at a higher amount to ensure your next appearance.

Also, if you posted a bond using a bail bond company, they will be responsible for that bail. If you posted a $50,000 bail, the bond company would lose $50,000 if they don't find you within 180 days. Their bounty hunters will come looking for you and bring you in.

Once a warrant is issued for your arrest, the police have more power over what happens with that warrant and how that particular warrant is going to be executed. If the judge issued a warrant for your arrest, the judge had good reason.

You can bet that the police will arrest you, take you into custody, and try to make sure that you are prosecuted. All the judge does is issue a warrant for your arrest, and then it's up to the police in San Fernando Valley to go out and try and catch you for that warrant.

California 1050 Motion for a Continuance

The prosecution can force a trial within sixty days unless one side can come up with an argument that they need more time. If they do, they'll file a 1050 motion under that Penal Code and have to show good cause why they need to continue the case. Otherwise, everybody has a right to a speedy trial, and that case will move to trial very quickly.

The reality is that most criminal cases will move in a way that makes sense for both sides. Suppose the defense needs more time to investigate the case. In that case, they're going to request it, and the prosecutors will agree to typically is, as will the judges, unless it starts to become ridiculous where there are multiple continuances. It's just obvious that the defense is trying to stall for time.

Of course, the flip side is proper as well. The prosecutors will get a reasonable amount of time to do their investigation, get their evidence together, and get their witnesses available for trial or preliminary hearing or any motions filed. But, the way it works as far as speedy trial rights go is that, let's say, the defendant is ready for trial.

Can My Attorney Arrange For Me To Turn Myself In If A Warrant?

If a bench warrant has been issued, your criminal defense attorney can take you directly to court. That will save you having to sit in custody, especially if you're going to bail out. The police have a warrant for you that hasn't gone into court yet is a bit more complicated. Typically, arrangements must be made between the police and your attorney to go into the police station, have you booked on the warrant, and then post bail through a bail bond agent.

It all depends on what type of a warrant it is, who issued it, and the circumstances of the case. Your best bet is always to go through an attorney and let your attorney assist you with surrendering the warrant.

Punishment If Found Guilty Rather Than Taking Plea

The system is set up to work because you're supposed to be offered a plea deal that would be much better than if you took the case to trial and lost. If you've got an adamant sentencing judge, you probably don't want to risk going to test if there's a good chance you're going to be found guilty.

If the judge is fair and reasonable, maybe you want to take that risk. You want to talk to your criminal defense attorney about it before deciding.

You could also be found guilty during the trial, but the judge could consider some mitigating circumstances in the case and consider those, and you could end up with a better deal. Generally speaking, if the government has evidence in your criminal case, your best bet is to have your attorney work out a deal and move forward with your life.

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Criminal Lawyer Familiar with Prosecutors and Judges

Factor number one in hiring the best criminal defense attorney would be locality. Does that criminal defense attorney regularly practice in the courthouse where your case is pending, and do they have success.

In other words, an insider, somebody who knows the court where your case is pending and has dealt with the prosecutors and judges, and who knows what the power structure is in the courthouse where your case is pending, will be best suited to represent you.

When you meet with your attorney, that's one of the first questions you should ask. You're going to be able to say, okay, what am I looking at? What am I facing? What's the minimum? What's the maximum? What's my best strategy?

Is there anything I can do to help myself in this particular case? That's really what you should be thinking about in attacking your case step by step. Find an attorney who is local to the court where your case is pending, and that is going to be your best bet as far as a strategy in getting the result you must have.

A Lawyer with Experience in the Local Court

Factor number two in deciding your criminal defense attorney is experience. That means knowledge in the courthouse and expertise in handling criminal defense cases and handling the particular case you have.

In other words, what type of a criminal offense are you charged with, and does that attorney have a lot of experience in that type of offense. The only way to figure that out is to sit down with the attorney. Ask him questions. Tell him what happened in your case.

Tell him what the good points are for you, and even tell him the bad moments so they can get a feel for what's going on. So, having an attorney with experience in the exact type of case is crucial if you want to get the best result in your criminal matter.

Criminal Lawyer Who You Can Relate To

The final point that I would look at in deciding what the best criminal defense attorney is, after looking at the locality and after looking at the experience, is personality. In other words, when you sit down with that attorney face to face, do you like them? Do they come off well?

Do they look like they know what they're talking about? Do they look like they're relatable because they will be your champion? They will be your advocate who will go in front of the judge, talk to them, speak on your behalf, and represent you, so you have to have an attorney you like because you want the attorney. You respect the attorney, and you think the attorney knows what they're talking about; the judge and prosecutor are likely to feel the same.

If the attorney is aloof, nasty, or mysterious, that's not the type of attorney you want. If the attorney doesn't know what they're talking about, is young, inexperienced, and will come across to the judge and the prosecutor.

So, find an attorney you feel comfortable with, who has a good attitude, who has a good personality — somebody who will relate to the judge and prosecutor in a positive way because that's going to be your champion. That will give you the best chance of success in your criminal case.

The Hedding Law Firm has been helping clients in Los Angeles County since the 1970s. The criminal defense attorneys at our office are highly experienced in this area of law. We are well known and respected in the criminal court arena by prosecutors, judges, fellow attorneys, court staff, and the thousands of clients we have assisted.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, please contact our firm today and speak directly with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys to discuss the best course of action.