District Attorney Dictates Policy
I've been practicing in the San Fernando Valley for almost 30 years. In 1992, I worked in the Burbank courthouse as a research attorney for one of the judges there. So, I've got a good background as far as knowing how judges will view cases, what they're going to do, what their tendencies might be, and that's important if you've got a criminal case in the San Fernando Valley that you need help with.
Also, in 1993, I worked for the District Attorney's office in East Los Angeles, which gave me some good perspective on:
- how the District Attorney's office prepares cases,
- what they do,
- what type of an angle they take when they're trying to negotiate a case,
- what type of angle do they take when trying to get a conviction in a case.
As far as the San Fernando Valley Courts go, I would consider Glendale, Burbank, and Pasadena part of the Valley. Also, Van Nuys and San Fernando courts are a part of the San Fernando Valley.
Malibu used to have a court, so it's closed down, so those cases have been divided between the Van Nuys courthouse and the Airport courthouse. The Valley courts, I would say, are pretty much middle of the road, and sometimes they get a little bit harsher. Sometimes they get more accessible, depending on who the District Attorney's office decides to staff each court.
In other words, usually, when you're talking about severe cases and how harsh a particular courthouse is in the Valley, you're going to look at the top of the DA's office. Whoever that head DA is, typically is going to dictate policy.
New DA More Lenient on Crime
We have now gone throughout the Valley and the rest of Los Angeles County; a new District Attorney has taken over. He has stated that he will be much more lenient on crime. So, that has enrolled and got into the Valley courts. Of course, it depends on:
- the type of crime,
- who the victim is,
- whether it's a sex crime,
- whether it's a murder, or
- whether it's a theft crime or some other less serious crime from the District Attorney's viewpoint. He's put out a bunch of different policies. Some of the deputies are following the guidelines to the letter.
When it comes to assessing whether the Valley court that your case is pending in is a harsh one or not, you first have to look at how your case is going to be dealt with. In other words, are you going to go to a jury trial? Then you're going to need to look at the jury pool and see if they're conservative and tough on crime, and that will give you an idea of how harsh that jury pool is.
For example, I think Van Nuys is probably a much easier jury pool to deal with than San Fernando. San Fernando pulls their jurors from Canyon County, Valencia, that area, while Van Nuys is more linked.
Jury Trial vs. Plea Bargain
Long story short, when it comes to assessing whether or not a courthouse is harsh, first look at how you're going to fight the case. Are you going to fight it by trying to do a jury trial, or are you going to fight it by way of a negotiated plea?
If it's by way of a negotiated plea, probably 95% of the cases filed in San Fernando at the criminal level are those courts in the Valley.
This includes Van Nuys, San Fernando, Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena — they're pretty reasonable as courts go.
There are some more harsh courts in Los Angeles county. There are approximately 30 courts in LA county, so you can guess, depending on where the court is, the type of jurors there are, that will give you an idea of how harsh they are.
So, if you need a criminal defense lawyer who knows the Valley well — I've been practicing there for over 30 years. I've got an office in Encino on Ventura Boulevard. Pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.
Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County, and we offer a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0940, or you can fill out our contact form.