Jury Trials In California Criminal Cases

Every case that walks into my office door is evaluated for whether we could win it at a jury trial. Ultimately, when it comes to it, if we can win the case at a jury trial, we know precisely how to handle it from the beginning. We will have an eye on picking the best jury, filing motions to ensure we get a fair trial, and preparing to defend the case and put our own story forward in the best possible light to our client.

If, on the other hand, we know from the beginning that we are not going to a jury trial, then we know that we need to start structuring the case to be negotiated, meaning that we will have the client get character letters from friends, family, work and any organization that knows that you have good character and have benefited the community.

We will file all necessary motions and decide from the beginning precisely what our bottom line will be in terms of negotiation and a potential plea deal.

What Percentage Of Cases Are Settled Before Trial?

This is an interesting question, and there's no perfect answer. I mean, I doubt the courts keep statistics on which filed cases are resolved by a negotiated plea agreement versus going to trial versus getting dismissed. They may observe that statistic, but it would not be easy to maintain. I don't know who would keep it, and there are thousands of cases being dealt with in these criminal cases.

I was sitting in court today — in the LX Airport Court — and one Judge said he's been sitting on the bench for almost fifty years. His statistics were that about 85% of filed cases in Los Angeles County are resolved by way of a settlement or a plea bargain in the case, and the remaining 15% of criminal cases that are filed are either dismissed or go to trial.

So, you can see it's a tiny percentage of cases go to trial, and the reason for that is, typically, the prosecutors are not going to file a claim that the police bring to them if they don't think they can win it. I mean, they're supposed to be in the business of doing justice, not just prosecuting people. So, if somebody brings them a case and it stinks, and they don't have the evidence for it, they're probably not going to file it.

I mean, there are other statistics you can look at. How many people are arrested that the prosecutors file on? Many people would think it's almost 100%, but that's not true. A lot of times, the prosecutors don't file cases.

Often, I'm able to contact them, talk to them, and get them not to file the case. Often, they look at the point on their own and realize it's just a bad case, and they don't want to lose the case. It isn't very comfortable for them to lose points. It is a waste of money. The judges get on them when they file stupid claims that they have to dismiss.

High Percentage of Negotiated Plea Bargains 

So, it's a very high percentage of cases resolved through a negotiated plea. Another reason is that if the case is not a good case and the patient should be tried because the person is innocent, the prosecutors should dismiss that case. Or they shouldn't file it in the first place. Sometimes they might point it out, and the defense will bring them some evidence they didn't see before or didn't contemplate because the police didn't get it, and they say, alright, now that we see this, we're not going to file the case.

Other times, they will look at the case and say, yeah, we're not going to be able to prove this case. Sometimes witnesses come up with different statements after the time of filing. Other things can happen when it comes to criminal defense in Los Angeles.

But that gives you a good feeling that most of the time, the prosecutors — if they file a case — it's probably a case that's going to be negotiated unless the defendant says, I didn't do it. I'm innocent, and that happens about 15% of the time. If a defendant says that, then the criminal defense attorney needs to prepare the case and do the investigation, and that's what we do.

I try a lot of cases, and I win many points. I win a lot of issues — in addition to the fact that I've been doing this a long time and I think I'm pretty good at what I do — because I'm not taking a case to trial that we're going to lose. I'm taking a case to test that we've got a perfect chance of winning.

I mean, sometimes a case can go either way. You're talking about jurors. You're talking about human beings and people, so you can't always know precisely what a jury will do. But, most of the time, if we're taking that case to trial, it's a case that we have an excellent chance to win, and we're going to fight and do everything we possibly can to get that not guilty verdict.

Criminal Lawyer with the Ability to Fight The Case

Prosecutors are more likely to give the best deals to criminal attorneys they know can fight a case in a jury trial and win. If the attorney is simply a negotiator, the prosecutor has no incentive to give them the best deal because they know the attorney is all bark and no bit!

This is why it is so important to sit down face to face with your attorney and get a feel for who you are dealing with. I will not make a case for a client unless they come and sit down and meet with me. You must know who your attorney is and their strategy to achieve the best possible outcome.

According to California law, you are entitled to a jury trial. Suppose you are being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Our lawyers have engaged in numerous jury trials and have seen great results. We fight aggressively, and when we engage in jury trials, our goal is to win! When you enter a “not guilty” plea, you will have to go through some pretrial proceedings to try and resolve the case, and if the issue does not get resolved, the case proceeds to trial.

Jury Trial Process in Los Angeles Courts

When it comes to being successful in a jury trial in Los Angeles or San Fernando Valley Court, the key is to have a good plan that provides a complete defense for the subject charges. I have clients come in all of the time who think they can win their case in a jury trial because the police have violated their rights in some way or another. Since I have done over 200 jury trials, I have an overall picture of what it takes to win any case.

Often, clients have just taken a piece of the case that is favorable to them and are using it to argue they are innocent. For example, maybe law enforcement illegally searched their home or car are used what they found against them.

The client does not realize that in that scenario, the jury does not decide on illegal searches; the judge does. There are so many different angles and issues related to jury trials that your best bet is to lay out your particular situation. We can then begin tackling your case and deciding whether a trial is an answer for you.

The jury consists of 12 members representing a fair cross-section of the community, and all 12 must come to a unanimous decision in determining their guilt. As your Jury Trial Attorney, we step up and aggressively argue the facts on your behalf. our main objective is to get you the best results possible ultimately…

The jury trial process consists of: jury selection, opening statements by the attorneys, evidence (direct and cross-examination of witnesses for the prosecution and defense), closing arguments by the attorneys, jury deliberations, the verdict, and finally, the sentencing.

We will make strong opening and closing statements and build a strong case through our evidence. Witnesses we question, leaving doubt in the jurors' minds about your guilt, demonstrating that the prosecution has not proved its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt.

Contact our Law Firm for Help

With our combined 75 years of experience, we have successfully defended clients in front of juries for crimes such as DUI, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, sex crimes, theft crimes, and more. If you face a pending criminal charge, get in touch with the Hedding Law Firm, and we will take it from there.

Related Content:
Has the COVID-19 Virus Changed California Jury Trials?
Should You Negotiate or Go to Trial in a Criminal Case?