San Fernando Criminal Defense Lawyer


This is the question you should be contemplating if you have a criminal case pending in the San Fernando Courthouse. There are several considerations you should consider when hiring the best attorney. 

The primary one must be whether the subject attorney is a well-respected “local” inside guy. Suppose your attorney appears in the court where your case is pending regularly. In that case, they will be in the best position to know the tendencies of the judge and prosecutor and how best to advise you about the resolution of your issue.

In criminal defense, knowing the political landscape and who to deal with and who not to deal with is enormous. The other essential piece of the equation has an attorney that has both the ability to negotiate and fight a case if necessary. Suppose the prosecutors know that your attorney is a formidable advocate for their clients and will file all the required motions, conduct a vigorous investigation, and can tear the proper case apart piece by piece. In that case, they will think twice before unreasonably dealing with you.

San Fernando Courthouse
900 Third Street
San Fernando, CA 91340
(818) 256-1800
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What Can We Do To Help You?

We are a local criminal defense law firm that daily appears in the San Fernando Courthouse. Because we consistently handle matters in this court, we are well known by the prosecutors, judges, and court staff. I have been litigating cases here since 1994. The connections and experience we have developed over many years of representing persons charged with crimes are invaluable in helping clients who need help.

I encourage you to contact our firm and set up a free, confidential face-to-face consultation and speak with one of our attorneys who has been in the court where your case is pending and give you some insight into how the San Fernando Court system works. Once we are familiar with your case and specific set of circumstances, we can design a plan to resolve your matter in the best possible manner.

Our experience is unrivaled – see our credentials on the home page of this website. The key to our success in the San Fernando Court is that we know, through years of experience, how things work and what to do in a particular case. The Hedding Law Firm is a family business with a team of attorneys prepared to represent your interests and vigorously fight for your rights, reputation, and freedom.

Being charged with a crime, especially if you are unaware of your rights and legal options, can be devastating. People charged with serious theft crimes, sex crimes, drug crimes, and violent crimes face life-changing legal consequences if they are convicted.

With the severe legal penalties, people owe it to themselves to consult with a reputable San Fernando criminal defense attorney when charged with a crime. A criminal defense lawyer can review the person's case, protect their rights, and provide valuable insight throughout the legal process.

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When you evaluate a courthouse in a criminal defense setting, you have to look at the temperament of both the judges in the courthouse and the District Attorney's Office. This attitude towards crime can make or break your client's case. There have been some very harsh judges in San Fernando court. There have also been some tough head prosecutors. If the Head DA is challenging in a courthouse, you can bet your bottom dollars that the Deputy District Attorneys will be challenging.

These regimes control how justice is dispensed in the criminal court and can make a difference in how people are treated and what happens to them regarding jail time and their criminal record. In my experience of producing over 300 court appearances last year alone, the San Fernando Courthouse today has a very even temperament across the board.

The judges are fair but firm, and of course, each has their particular way of dispensing justice; in other words, they have certain crimes and actions by a defendant that they do not like and will punish accordingly. The District Attorney's Office is also fair, in my opinion, and will listen to what the defense has to say when it comes to resolving a case.

However, make no mistake, if you are charged with a serious crime and your conduct was viewed as egregious, you had better find an attorney quick who knows how to maneuver their way around this courthouse. Many practical strategies can be employed by a seasoned, savvy attorney who knows their way around the San Fernando Courthouse and can get you the result you must have.

Process for a Felony Case

Sometimes it helps to know what you face when charged with a felony crime in the San Fernando Court system. This section is meant to give you a feel for what you are up against so you are not caught by surprise when you enter the court system. It does not cover every situation but is a good starting point in your mission to rid yourself of the criminal system. I suggest you supplement your education on the criminal legal system by meeting with a criminal defense attorney who has had success in the court in your pending case.

Once a person is arrested, they either post bail, in which case they are given a future court date approximately 30 days ahead, or they stay in custody and appear in court within a couple of days. This could be longer than the weekend or a holiday is involved.

The first appearance in a criminal case is called arraignment. In San Fernando, you will appear in Department “S” on the first floor, and the judge will set your bail. Sometimes it will be what you're already posted, while other times, the judge can either raise it or lower it depending on what the prosecutors file against you. Your attorney will be given the complaint with the charges against you and the police reports that support those charges.

Once the judge calls the case, the new court date is set. Your attorney usually orders a probation report to assist in the negotiation/resolution process. There are several different strategy options depending on the charges and your case matrixed. This means the trial court will ultimately end up if it is not resolved. If the case is not resolved through a plea bargain, it will be set for a preliminary hearing. This proceeding involves the prosecutors calling witnesses (like a mini-trial), and your attorney can cross-examine each witness. The judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to bind you to the trial court.

If the prosecutors can bring sufficient evidence for each charge against you, they must show there is a reasonable suspicion that you committed each direction. The prosecutors will have the right to have a trial for each count. Anywhere along the way, both sides can agree to a disposition. If the case is not dismissed and no resolution is agreed upon, the patient will go to trial, and a jury or judge will decide if the person is innocent or guilty of every charge.

Along the way toward trial, your attorney can investigate any allegations against you, obtain any special reports by experts if appropriate and file any motions relevant to your case. Each criminal case spins on its facts, and your attorney is the one that must make the proper decisions on how your case should be prosecuted.

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 do 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 the Glendale, Burbank, and Pasadena parts of the Valley.  Also, Van Nuys and San Fernando courts are a part of the San Fernando Valley.

Van Nuys Criminal Courthouse

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, 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 in 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, 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 through a negotiated plea?

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

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, and 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.

Great Case Results in the San Fernando Courthouse

Over the past 25 years, I have had some unbelievable courtroom battles in the San Fernando Courthouse. It is my favorite courthouse because of the powerful, successful memories and results I have achieved. Getting results in any courthouse takes investigation, hard work, and strategy. There is no way to take the easy road to success. To win a case in the San Fernando Courthouse takes experience and the ability to present your client's story in the best light possible.

Some cases should be tried before a jury, while others should be negotiated for the best deal possible. It takes years of dealing with criminal defense cases from the point of view of defending a client. I am not very impressed when a former prosecutor tries to claim they are a good choice as an attorney. I will take a seasoned criminal defense attorney over someone who has been putting people away for years.


Some years ago, I had a client charged with kidnapping and was facing life in prison. Our position was that the main witness against my client was a drug dealer who had double-crossed my client during a drug deal and then used the police against him when my client asked for his money back and claimed he had been kidnapped when things did not go his way.

Unfortunately, the prosecutors had the evidence against my client, so he had to take a ten-year deal. They forced my client to stay in the trial of his co-defendant and had agreed that right before the jury decided on the case, my client could plead to the ten years. I had been trying to prove that the alleged victim was a drug dealer for many months before trial. However, the alleged victim refused to give my investigator a statement and lied to the police about his involvement with my client, and claimed he was an innocent victim.

Once I got to cross-examine him at trial, I was able to get him to admit that he had admitted to the prosecutor that he was a drug dealer and that my client was angry with him because he had cheated him in the drug deal. This was the information I had been trying to get for almost a year! I approached the judge and told her that the prosecutor had violated his duty to turn over that statement before the trial.

The jury was dismissed, a mistrial was declared, and the judge ordered the head prosecutor to her chambers. My client was given probation and released when it was all said and done!


In 1997 I had a client charged with embezzlement from a central college campus. The story was in the press, and She and Fernando's courthouse had jurisdiction over the case. After a hard-fought two-day preliminary hearing, the case was ultimately dismissed by a 995 motion in the trial court.

This case was an example of a sloppy investigation exposed under a blistering cross-examination. The police had not taken the time to go through all of the allegations and check out their key witnesses' involvement in the case. Some of the witnesses had done worse things than what the client had been charged with.

This is an example of putting a citizen through the scrutiny of the press and the stress of being charged with a significant felony and facing multiple years in prison, and having no actual evidence in hand. The defendant's crucial piece always has an attorney who knows the court system and can take the police and prosecutors to task when the time is right!


Approximately ten years ago, a horrible crash in the San Fernando Valley led to a death and a murder charge against my client. There was a chase on city streets where speeds reached more than 100 miles an hour, culminating in a red light being run and a very unfortunate. After approximately a week-long trial, the jury came back not guilty. The key argument that I made the difference between murder and vehicular manslaughter and saving my client a life sentence was that she did not know the full gravity of the actions she set in motion.

To imply malice for purposes of a murder charge in a scenario like this, the prosecutors must prove that this particular defendant knew and weighed the consequences of such dangerous activities. Even though the result was horrible, the prosecution could not present the facts to prove this young woman truly appreciated the risks of her actions.


This particular client submitted a review on AVVO related to his unbelievable result. He was a person with an extensive criminal record, and the prosecutors were fed up with him and wanted him to do many years in prison. I convinced the judge to take a chance on him, and she gave him a probationary deal and a drug program. She did warn him that if he ever came in front of her again, she would max him out.

Not too long ago, we appeared in court for a progress report, and the judge praised my client for his great work of staying on the right path. This is not an easy result all the way around. It is extremely difficult for someone hooked on drugs with a criminal record to turn things around so drastically. This is an example of a person who finally said enough is enough and believed that they could turn the corner, and a judge giving them a chance to change and be a better person.


This case involved my client's severe mental issues, which led to him hallucinating and firing a weapon at his neighbor's home and striking someone in the leg with a bullet. Usually, if convicted, he would be looking at life in prison. However, we were able to get expert doctor reports that established he did not have the mental capacity from the specific intent to kill for purposes of attempted murder.

This saved the client a sure life sentence and gave him the chance to deal with his mental condition, and if he can overcome it, he will one day be released from a mental hospital. It is not uncommon for police and prosecutors to proceed on a short course of action against a person without doing the necessary investigation to ensure that the charges are appropriate under the circumstances of a particular case.

Believe it or not, some prosecutors secretly believe that there should be no defense attorneys and that the judge should decide what happens to people charged with crimes. This emphasizes the need for you to have a seasoned criminal defense attorney that will fight for you in San Fernando or any court in Los Angeles County.


My client mixed multiple drugs and went to sleep. In the middle of the night, he woke up hallucinating and believing someone had broken into his home and was going to kill him. He retrieved his shotgun and fired multiple rounds at the phantom assailant. His neighbors called 911, and when the police arrived, they arrested him for assault with a deadly weapon because he shared several common walls with neighbors that lived near him in his condo complex.

The case was eventually set to go to trial in the San Fernando Superior court because the prosecutors were trying to send him to prison for his conduct. Once the judge realized that the defense had a solid mental reason, he offered to resolve the case and gave the defendant a drug treatment program, no jail time, and placed him on probation. In my opinion, the preparation swayed the judge to resolve the matter favorably for my client.


In a high-profile case, my client was charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a local mortuary and was facing multiple years in prison and her record being destroyed. We ultimately got her case reduced to a misdemeanor and dismissed. The client had a family and a bright future that was saved because we knew how to put together a mitigation package and convince the judge and prosecutor to give her the break of a lifetime.


My client was a California State University student and basketball player charged in a theft case and other students and basketball players. He had no record, and I convinced the Head District Attorney in the San Fernando Courthouse to give him a break. She set it up so that the case could ultimately be dismissed and left my client with a clean record.

Even though things started off looking bleak and the case was highly publicized, through hard work, strategy, and knowing who to talk to at the right time, the client ended up with an unbelievable result that eventually permitted him to complete college and move on to a successful life!


I recently had a case dismissed in the San Fernando Courthouse after filing a motion based on an illegal stop of my client's vehicle. The police in the San Fernando area decided that they would start pulling over cars with paper dealer plates under the theory that car thieves were stealing cars, taking the license plates off, and placing paper plates on them to avoid police detection.

Once the judge realized what they were doing, he also realized that this gave the green light to the police to pull over anyone who had purchased a new car. This type of behavior violates the United States Constitution and can not be tolerated. The search was ruled illegal, all the evidence was thrown out, and dismissed the case. Even though the client was guilty of DUI, the way the police found out was by violating his constitutional rights.

The History of the San Fernando Court 

The San Fernando Courthouse has been around for many years and has undergone numerous renovations and additions to the court's infrastructure. In 1994 the Northridge earthquake significantly damaged the courthouse and caused it to be closed for many months. At that time, many of the buildings surrounding the courthouse were used to continue the courthouse's business.

I remember practicing criminal defense at that time, as the court personnel was moved around to accommodate many criminal cases. Today, I continue to appear in the San Fernando Courthouse weekly and even daily and can tell you that the courthouse is still very busy and handles hundreds of cases per month. It is staffed by the District Attorney's Office, which prosecutes felonies, and the City Attorney's Office prosecutes misdemeanors.

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