How Will the Van Nuys District Attorney’s Office Implement the New Los Angeles District Attorney’s Policies?
Right now, across Los Angeles county as the new year approaches, the new head Deputy District Attorney George Gascon has imposed a number of new crucial policies and there are prosecutors who are angry about it.
LA county has one of the biggest prosecution agencies in the world. There are over 1,200 prosecutors and 38 different courts. And I’ll tell you right now, they’re not reacting well to the new policies.
Elimination of Using California’s Three Strikes Law
These policies get rid of the three strikes law in LA county as far as not actually enforcing it. That’s one area where it gets a little bit confusing. The law is still there, but the DA’s office has simply chosen not to utilize it. So, anybody who is like:
- a second striker, for example, and picks up a new third strike and would normally be looking at 25 to life,
- is not looking at 25 to life anymore is looking at whatever the charge range is for whatever the charge is that they picked up.
Also, the death penalty looks like it’s going to go by the wayside which is another key implementation factor of this new LA county District Attorney.
I’ve made a bunch of appearances in the Van Nuys court. My office is five minutes from there.
The prosecutors there are implementing the policy because obviously, they will lose their job if they don’t.
Probation for Defendants with Exceptions
But, it’s still mirky on how they’re going to deal with the part of the policy that basically says, everybody gets probation unless certain exceptions apply.
So, a lot of the prosecutors I don’t think know what to do with this because there are some pretty serious cases charged in the Van Nuys court. So, I think that seems to be up in the air.
In other words, are they really going to give probation to some of these offenders who would normally get multiple years in prison?
I think some of the prosecutors are still dragging their feet as far as that particular issue goes. But I’ve got a bunch of cases coming up. So, we’re going to see exactly how the prosecutors are going to deal with it.
Judges Refusal to Follow New Policies
One thing that I do see in the Van Nuys courthouse regarding this new policy is, a lot of the judges are basically refusing to implement it.
In other words, let’s say there’s a case where somebody’s charged with two prior strikes and they have a new felony pending and the DA’s office is making motions across LA county, but in specific, Van Nuys court, to strike those prior strikes.
A lot of the judges because they have the authority under Penal Code Section 1385 to strike allegations once they’re filed, are refusing to do so, saying, no, I’m not going to do that, unless you can show me why in the interest of justice, I’m going to strike these strikes, I’m not doing it.
And that, I think — looking at this, because I don’t know how the new DA is going to respond to that type of activity.
If it’s down at the preliminary hearing level, the way that can be fixed from a defense standpoint, is once you do the preliminary hearing, the District Attorney’s office simply don’t file those strikes back in the charging documents and now the judge loses the authority to do anything about those strikes.
If on the other hand, your case is up in the trial court in Van Nuys and the judge refuses to do it, that creates a problem. Now, those strikes are still sitting there should somebody get convicted.
I guess the way around that is, either they can dismiss the case and refile it without the strikes, or they could simply offer the defendant a deal that didn’t include the strikes.
So, there’s still a lot yet to be seen in the Van Nuys courthouse as it relates to the new District Attorney’s policy, but I think it’s definitely going to benefit defendants.
I think it’s crucial more than ever now to have a great defense attorney by your side because you want to make sure that these prosecutors who don’t like the policy aren’t able to skirt out of giving your client a fair resolution.
Obviously, all of the mitigating factors are put out there on the client’s behalf.
Criminal Defense in Van Nuys Courthouse
I’ve been doing this now for 27 years — handling cases on the defense end in the Van Nuys courthouse.
I’ve worked for the District Attorney’s office, so I know how their office work; I’ve worked for a superior court judge, and since 1994, I’ve been defending people just like you.
If you need help, pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding if you’ve got a case in the Van Nuys courthouse and you need help.
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Categorised in: Criminal Defense