It’s interesting that a lot of people do not understand what a preliminary hearing is and how it relates to a criminal case in the San Fernando courthouse. But if you have a felony pending in the San Fernando courthouse, you better figure out what a preliminary hearing is and how it might relate to your case.
Misdemeanor cases does not entitle a defendant to a preliminary hearing. It’s only a felony case. Basically, after the arraignment, the next major court proceeding will be a preliminary hearing on the road to doing a trial in the San Fernando courthouse. Basically, what it is, is the prosecutors in San Fernando have to put together their case. They have to put on evidence that at least preliminary shows that they can meet all the elements of the charges. So, if you have a case where they just don’t have evidence on a case where they don’t have evidence on the case, but they filed it anyways – that’s what people ask me all the time – how can they file that case? They can file whatever they want, just like people can file law suits, prosecutors in criminal courts and in particular in San Fernando, if they want can file criminal cases. That doesn’t necessarily mean they can prove them, but they are certainly entitled to file them if they think they can prove them.
In a felony case in San Fernando, you can set the case as a defense attorney for a preliminary hearing and make them show the judge what evidence they have that if the case went to trial, would it meet each of the elements. Now, there might be problems with some of their evidence, but that’s not necessarily what the test is at a preliminary hearing. Basically, the standard at a preliminary hearing is, is there a reasonable suspicion that the person was charged with particular crimes committed each of the offenses. A reasonable suspicion at a preliminary hearing in San Fernando is not a very high standard so that means it’s not really that difficult for the prosecutors to prove their case if they have the evidence, or at least they have some evidence.
A lot of times in these San Fernando preliminary hearings I see that the prosecutors put on their case, I am entitled to cross-examine their witnesses and a lot of time I am able to do some pretty good damages to their witness’s case at the preliminary hearing. So, my client will say, well wait a minute. Whey didn’t’ the judge dismiss that case? You destroyed their witnesses at the preliminary hearings and many times if a judge doesn’t dismiss the case the answer is because they only have to put on evidence of each of the elements that if believed they could prove their case. So, a lot of times the defense will put one evidence. The prosecutors will put on evidence and the just will say look, it looks like there’s an issue here. I’m going to let a jury decide. I’m not going to come in and play jury in the case. That’s not really my job in a preliminary hearing in the San Fernando courthouse. My job is to see if the prosecutors put on enough evidence to meet all the elements if the jury believed it, and so that’s what they do.
But then in other cases I’ve seen the evidence for the prosecutors is so ridiculous and idiotic that the San Fernando judge will say, you know what, I’m not going to let this go past the preliminary hearing. I’m going to dismiss this case. So, to be able to judge that is not easy because a lot of times you have police reports, but as soon as a good cross-examiner at a preliminary hearing in San Fernando starts asking questions, the next thing you know new evidence comes out. The evidence they have can turn sour. There’re all sorts of things.
So, the reason that I do preliminary hearings if I decide to do them is probably multiple folds. Number one, obviously I’m going to try to get the case dismissed if I can. Number two, even if I can’t get the case dismissed, I can do some damage to the case and then I can use that damage in order to try to work out some sort of a resolution with the prosecutors, and finally, I’m setting the case up for trial. If I can get witnesses locked in under penalty of perjury, then I can set the particular case up for trial. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used in San Fernando jury trials the transcript from the preliminary hearing which is all under penalty of perjury to impeach and attack witnesses. So, we’ll be doing the trial and all of a sudden they’ll say something different than what they said during the preliminary hearing in the San Fernando court and we’re doing the jury trial in front of a San Fernando jury. I’ll then get up and say hey wait a minute. You just said this. Didn’t you testify earlier in these court proceedings at a preliminary hearing under penalty of perjury and they’re going to have to answer yes and then I’m going to show them what they said and I’m going to compare it to what they said now, and now they have a big problem because they’ve contradicted themselves and this is the first step in an effective cross-examination in a San Fernando case in destroying the credibility of the witness and winning the case.
So, preliminary hearings are very important. There’re all sorts of reasons to do them. At the end of a preliminary hearing you ask the judge to dismiss the case. If the judge denies that motion, when you get into the new trial court in San Fernando, you can then file what’s called a 995 Motion and say to the new judge and say this judge was wrong. We want you to dismiss the case. We don’t believe there was enough evidence presented to hold the client to answer and to do a jury trial in this case, and the judge will be forced to rule on that 995 motion. The prosecutor will be forced to defend it.
So, if you have a case with some try-able issues, you definitely want to consider doing preliminary hearing and this is something you should sit down with your criminal defense attorney and make a decision as to whether or not a San Fernando preliminary hearing is the right move in that particular case.
For more information on Preliminary Hearings In San Fernando, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 542-0940 today.