This is a question that I’ve talked about and fought for over the past twenty-five years of defending cases in the Van Nuys courthouse. Van Nuys pretty much controls most of the San Fernando Valley as far as jurisdiction for criminal cases that are arrested and filed in the Valley. As far as trying to get no jail time, you have to realize that the prosecutors are usually giving jail time or prison time to people who they believe just will not learn their lesson, and they feel that the only deterrent or only punishment for them is either jail time or prison time.
Showing the Court You Don’t Deserve Jail Time
So, what you have to do as a defense attorney, and a defendant to help your defense attorney, is try to get the client out of the category of people who deserve jail time. The way you do that is to humanize the client – show that they’ve got a job, they have a family – they have a lot to lose. Whatever their conduct was was an aberration. It’s not going to happen again. If you can do that, you’re on your way to getting no jail time on a case.
If that still doesn’t work, another thing that I try to do is to come up with a punishment — if that’s what we’re talking about — that is not jail time, but still is good enough so that the prosecutor and judge feel like it punishes the defendant and gives them a deterrent. An example is sometimes we get what’s called a joint suspension, or if somebody absolutely doesn’t want to go to county jail, we suspend prison time over their head. They get no jail time, but if they violate in the future and do something wrong in the future, then they have that prison time hanging over their head and they’re going to get that imposed against them. So, this is definitely one way to avoid somebody going into custody.
Book and Release
Another way is to come up with a punishment that is equal to or worse than jail time. For example, let’s say somebody is so terrified of jail they don’t even want to do one day, because the prosecutors can offer you ten days in jail on a case in the Van Nuys court. That means the LA sheriffs are going to house you in the jail. On ten days, right now as I write this article, you probably will not do a day. You’ll go in, they’ll see you only got ten days and they’ll let you go. It’ll just be booked and released basically.
So, knowing that, if you were to tell the prosecutor, instead of giving him ten days jail — which you know the person’s only going to do a day or less — why don’t you give him ten days of Caltrans toiling on the Freeway, and they’ll have to do all ten of those days. Those are ten-hour days. They have to get up early. It’s hard work. It’s dangerous. There’s an example where the prosecutor’s going to say, yeah, he’s right. I might as well just make him do Caltrans and if they don’t do the Caltrans, they’ll get the jail time anyway. So, that’s another example of how you can avoid jail time in a Van Nuys criminal case.
Telling the Client’s Story
There’s a whole bunch of different examples and angles. A lot of times it really just involves telling the client’s story. What I see in these cases that are prosecuted in the Van Nuys courthouse, is that a lot of times the police have pencil-whipped the person to death, meaning they’ve written a report that’s all one-sided. They didn’t talk to any witnesses that might help the defendant in the criminal case. They don’t really do anything. Sometimes they didn’t even talk to the defendant about what happened.
So, if you as a defense attorney can tell the client’s story, a lot of times you can turn the tide as far as jail time goes and get them another chance. It all goes on a case-by-case basis. If you have a case and you don’t want to go to jail, give me a call. We’ll talk about it and I’ll be honest with you whether I think you have a chance to stay out of jail and I’ll give you an idea of what my strategy will be moving forward because, to be honest with you, a lot of attorneys — these young attorneys and attorneys who don’t have experience in the Van Nuys court — they’re not going to be able to execute a strategy that I have because they don’t know the players. They don’t who to talk to. They don’t know what to say. They don’t know what things to bring to bear to get that result. So, give me a call and I’ll see what I can do to help.
Hedding Law Firm
San Fernando Valley Criminal Lawyers
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436