Independent Collection of Evidence by Your Lawyer
From a criminal defense standpoint, there are many different ways that a criminal case can be resolved, especially in the San Fernando courthouse, where I've been practicing for twenty-five years now.
This is where the juice of criminal defense comes in because you have to know all the players in the courthouse. You have to understand both the court system and the prosecutor's system in dealing with cases. And then, of course, there are all the different nuances of your client's criminal record, what your client allegedly did, and the different charges.
Different charges in criminal cases in Los Angeles County are handled differently. So, as far as ways to resolve an issue, one way would be to collect evidence that contradicts the police's investigation and give that to the prosecutor. When they look at it, they say, oh, we didn't realize this, and you convince the prosecutors to dismiss the case.
This is not an easy thing to do, and it certainly doesn't happen every day, but it does happen once in a while. I've had cases where they did a sloppy investigation. It's not necessarily the prosecutor's fault because they rely a lot of times on the police to do research. The police bring them information, and if the police do a one-sided investigation – which they do a lot- then the prosecutors are only relying on what the police brought them.
A lot of times, the prosecutors will get the case from the police, and they'll look at it, and they'll say, well wait a minute, you're missing some things here, and if they can tell there is some investigation that needs to be done, then they won't make a move on it. They'll continue the arraignment in the case and not file it, and they will tell the detectives in the case, they need to go out and do certain things before they consider filing the case.
So, a lot of times, we'll go to court on a case, and the prosecutors will reject the case for further investigation, which means we're not leaving it outright; there may be a case there, but we need to see more information before we make a decision.
Other times they can't do that because they don't have enough information even to realize that more needs to be done on the case, so then it's up to the criminal defense lawyer to do the investigation and bring it to the prosecutor's attention.
That's how cases get resolved sometimes. They look at their case. They look at the evidence. They see what the defense attorney brought, and they decide – you know what, in the interest of justice – we're not prosecuting this case. I've had that happen a lot over many years of practicing criminal defense.
Plea-Bargain a Criminal Case
Another way to resolve a California criminal case is a plea bargain. And, of course, that has multiple layers to it. Meaning you can fix it through the judge. You can resolve it through the prosecutors. And then the question becomes, which prosecutors are you going to resolve it with? Are you going to fix it with the arraignment prosecutors? Are you going to resolve it with the trial court prosecutor?
Are you going to go up the hierarchy of command and use the supervisors to resolve the case? Or are you going to go directly to the judge and say, judge, these guys are not being fair? I need you to get involved and resolve the case. As far as the plea bargain process goes, there are different things you can do. You can put together a mitigation package for the prosecutors to see character letters related to your client.
You can get expert reports of psychological evaluations. There are all sorts of things you can do in the process of negotiating a criminal case, and that's another way to resolve an issue. Then you start to ask yourself:
- Where do I resolve it?
- Do I do it in the arraignment court?
- Do I do it in the trial court?
- Do I do it by going to meet with the head prosecutor?
So, this is another consideration for the defense attorney, and it's part of the strategy in knowing the courthouse how cases are resolved. The best way to resolve a particular case depends on your client and where you are in the court system.
Jury Trial in Los Angeles
The final way to resolve a court case is through a jury trial. So, you would say to your client; I think this case should go to trial. I don't believe you are guilty. They're not going to dismiss the case. You don't want to take the deal on a case you're innocent on, so we're going to take the case to trial, and then you prepare the case for trial.
Do whatever investigation is necessary. File any motions that make sense, and then ultimately, pick a jury and let them decide whether the person is innocent or guilty. So these are, in general, the ways to resolve a criminal case, and the way you figure out which one of those ways works best for you is by using a criminal defense attorney.
It would help if you had a lawyer who has a lot of experience, who does a lot of cases and knows what it takes to win a case, and knows when to try the case in front of a jury and when to resolve the issue by way of a plea negotiation.