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 really 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 on how they deal 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 San Fernando are handled differently. So, as far as ways to resolve a case, one way would be that you collect evidence that contradicts the police’s investigation and you give that to the prosecutor and when they look at it, they say oh, we didn’t realize this, and you convince the prosecutors to dismiss the case. Obviously, this is not an easy thing to do and it certainly doesn’t happen every day in the San Fernando court, but it does happen once in a while. I’ve had cases where they did a sloppy investigation. It’s not just necessarily the San Fernando prosecutor’s fault because they’re relying a lot of times on the police to do an investigation. The police bring them information and if the police do a one-sided investigation – which they do a lot- in San Fernando or other courthouses across Los Angeles County – 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 will consider filing the case. So, a lot of times we’ll go to court on a case and the case will be rejected by the prosecutors for further investigation, which basically means we’re not rejecting it outright, there may be a case there, but we need to see more information before we make a decision.
Other times they just can’t do that because they don’t have enough information to even be able to realize that more needs to be done on the case, so then it’s up to the defense attorneys 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 the course of many years of practicing criminal defense in the San Fernando courthouse.
Another way to resolve a criminal case in the San Fernando court is by way of a plea bargain. And of course, that has multiple layers to it. Meaning you can resolve 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 resolve 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 so they can see character letters related to your client. You can get expert reports, psychological evaluations – there’s all sorts of things you can do in the process of negotiating a criminal case in the San Fernando courthouse, and that’s definitely another way to resolve a case.
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 way of going to meet with the head prosecutor? So, this is another consideration for the defense attorney and its part of the strategy in knowing the San Fernando courthouse, how cases are resolved and what the best way to resolve a particular case is, depending on who your client is and where you are in the court system.
The final way to resolve a San Fernando court case is by way of a jury trial. So, you would say to your client, I think this case should go to trial. I don’t think you’re guilty. They’re not going to dismiss the case. You don’t want to take deal on a case that 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 a San Fernando jury decide whether the person is innocent or guilty.
So these are really in general, the ways to resolve a criminal case in the San Fernando courthouse and the way you figure out which one of those ways works best for you is by using a criminal defense attorney who has a lot of experience, who does a lot of cases in the San Fernando court 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 case by way of a plea negotiation.
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