Various Circumstances Will Determine Time Spent in Court

Often, California criminal cases can take some time, and charged people end up waiting in court the whole day. Where I usually see this is on an arraignment, especially a felony. Sometimes, believe it or not, the police just walked the paperwork into the prosecutor's office on the court day in Los Angeles.

Suppose that happens, especially after a weekend or even a holiday. In that case, the prosecutors will have a whole stack of cases sitting there that they have to go through, and even sometimes the detectives get in there late, so you end up sitting around the whole day.

Every time I do a high-profile case, I end up pretty much sitting there the whole day because those detectives either come in late in the morning or even sometimes in the afternoon.

If it's a high-profile case with a lot of stuff going on – a lot of times, they don't even have the paperwork ready for the defendant until sometime in the afternoon. Then I have to review it, prepare my argument for bail, and then we end up calling the case and doing it, but a lot of times, that's late in the afternoon.

Arraignments in LA County

In the average case, if it's an arraignment and it's a misdemeanor or a felony, you usually should, if you have a private lawyer, be able to get out of there pretty quick – probably by 10:00 or 10:30. On the other hand, if you have the public defender,  on the other hand, they are sometimes swamped.

They have a lot of stuff going on. Sometimes they're short-handed. So, under those circumstances, you can end up being in court for quite some time. So, it just depends on the circumstances. For example, when I do preliminary hearings in Department G in the San Fernando courthouse, many times can take the whole day because the prosecutors are waiting for their witnesses to get there.

They have to prepare. You would think they would prepare the case the day before or early in the morning before the court starts, but that's not what they do. They wait until all the witnesses get there, and then depending on who arrives at what time, they start interviewing them then.

Meanwhile, as a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, I'm coming in ready to go. I've already reviewed everything. Got my questions together. Talked to my client. But the prosecutors aren't getting paid any extra money to get there early and go on their criminal cases. So, a preliminary hearing is another area where you can expect to be in the San Fernando courthouse for quite some time.

Jury Trials in LA County 

Another area that takes some time is a jury trial. Because of court crowding, jury trials can take some time. Sometimes there're not enough courts open, so what they do is send it to a court, but that judge will have their calendar for the day, so they won't even be able to start their jury trial until 10:30, and of course, they're going to take a lunch break from 12:00 to 1:45.

So, under those circumstances, you're getting minimal trial time. So, sometimes trials take a long time. Depending on what judge you get in front of, how busy that judge is – it's scarce that you're just going to get sent to a trial court and all the court is going to do is our trial. They're going to have other responsibilities. They're going to have to rule on motions. They will have to do preliminary hearings if they're available and anybody needs them to do it. They're going to have to run their daily calendar. Courthouse.

So, as a criminal attorney, I have an idea, depending on who the judge is, what the cause is, and what's going on – whether or not we're going to be there for a while, and obviously, I usually let my clients know. As far as doing quick matters, generally just a run-of-the-mill arraignment or a pre-trial where you've already been to court – those are going to be relatively short.

As soon as your lawyer gets there – especially private lawyers – the judges will usually give them a priority, and you should be in and out of there pretty quick. So, if you're thinking about how long you will be in court – you have things to do, you have to work, you have appointments – the best person to ask and gauge that is your criminal defense attorney.

Retain a Criminal Defense Lawyer

I tell my clients all the time. I give them an idea of how quick we'll be out of there. Of course, I take little notes so that if I have a client who has to get to their job, I can get in there quickly and tell the judge that I have to get out of there quickly, and we get the client out of there quickly.

So, it depends on what the court proceeding is as to how quick you're going to be able to get out of that courthouse as a defendant, who your attorney is – whether you have the public defender or a private attorney. You also have to coordinate with your attorney. Let him know what's going on with you. Let him know why you have to get out of there.

San Fernando is one of my favorite courthouses in Los Angeles County. The judges and prosecutors are very reasonable there. They will work with the defense lawyers as long as they are professional, have some local experience, and know what they're doing when defending a criminal defense case. Contact the Hedding Law Firm to review your case.