Early Disposition Court Department H
The San Fernando courthouse has a District Attorney's Office that handles all the felony cases. Their office is on the courthouse's third floor, and they have multiple prosecutors who staff the various courts in the San Fernando courthouse. Their structure comprises a prosecutor who sits in Department S, the felony arraignment court.
That's where every case starts in the San Fernando courthouse. The attorneys are given the discovery, the paperwork related to the point, and then pretty much choose whether they want to stay in Department S and try to resolve their case or enter a not guilty plea.
Then the case will be moved into Department H, which is the early disposition court. There's another prosecutor from the District Attorney's office who staffs Department H. That's used as the EDP court where, if you're trying to resolve your case, you can take it in there and either negotiate with a Deputy District Attorney in that courtroom, or you can try to get the judge to give a better disposition than the prosecutor in that courtroom.
If you can't resolve your case in Department H with the Deputy District Attorney, you can move into Department G, where they do preliminary hearings. There's usually more than one prosecutor in there because it takes a lot of work to prepare for a preliminary hearing, so sometimes they need a couple of prosecutors to deal with that.
Trial Courts in San Fernando Courthouse
Once you do your preliminary hearing, your case will be sent to one of the trial courts in the San Fernando courthouse, and those trial courts are staffed with several District Attorneys.
Those Deputy District Attorneys are usually higher-level prosecutors – either Grade three or four – who have the authority to resolve cases and have been with the District Attorney's office for a long time. That's one way to resolve your issues through those prosecutors because they have the authority to do something.
Beyond the trial court, there's a second-in-command prosecutor in San Fernando court, and he resolves a lot of the cases. Often, I will go to him when I have a complex case to resolve. He's very reasonable, and he has been given the authority to settle a case. And then, of course, there's the head DA in San Fernando.
She's been there for quite some time. She's very reasonable, and if you have a striking case, murder case – a severe case – you're certainly entitled as a defense attorney to meet with her and discuss the matter with her. She usually requires that the case is past the preliminary hearing before she will meet with you to discuss the case.
Sex Crime Prosecutor
There's also a head sex crime prosecutor in charge of all the sex crimes. So typically, if you have a severe sex crime case, you're going to have to go through her and talk to her about that particular case. Then there're filing deputies who all they do all day is get cases, review them, and decide whether to file them or not file them or send the police out to do further investigation on them.
So, that's pretty much the structure on San Fernando for the District Attorney's office. There are also many court staff and different people who deal with cases there. But, without knowing the structure and how the District Attorney's office works, specifically in San Fernando, a defense attorney will be at a disadvantage.
By knowing how the structure works and knowing the various individuals in the system, you're certainly going to be in an excellent position to make some informed decisions on behalf of your criminal defendant to be able to resolve the case or to fight the case in front of a jury and let the jury decide whether the client is innocent or guilty.
But knowing the structure of the District Attorney's office in the San Fernando court is crucial in figuring out how to successfully maneuver a criminal case through the San Fernando court system.
If you have a case and are concerned about it, I'm certainly more than happy to sit down with you. You can tell me which courtroom your case is in what the charges are; I can give you a pretty good idea of which prosecutors in San Fernando are going to be handling the case, what their tendencies are, and obviously, some strategies moving forward with your criminal case so you can have a successful outcome.