The San Fernando courthouse has a District Attorney’s office that handles all the felony cases. Their office is on the third floor of the courthouse and they have multiple prosecutors who staff the various courts in the San Fernando courthouse. Their structure of made up of a prosecutor who sits in Department S which is 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 case and then pretty much have a choice as to whether they want to stay in Department S and try to resolve their case or enter a not guilty plea and then the case will be moved into Department H, which is the early disposition court and there’s another prosecutor from the District Attorney’s office who staffs Department H. That’s used as the EDP court where basically, 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 there, then you can move your case 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 in order to deal with that. 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 a number of District Attorneys’ as well. 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 that you can resolve your cases through those prosecutors because they actually 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. A lot of times I will go to him when I have a case that’s a difficult one to resolve. He’s very reasonable and he actually has been given the authority to resolve 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 strike case, murder case – a very serious case – you’re certainly entitled as a defense attorney to meet with her and discuss the case with her. She usually requires that the case be past the preliminary hearing before she will meet with you to discuss the case.
There’s also a head sex crime prosecutor who is in charge of all the sex crimes. So typically, if you have a serious 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 then 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’re also a bunch of 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 is definitely going to be at a disadvantage. By knowing how the structure works and knowing the various individuals in the structure, you’re certainly going to be in a good 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 maneuver a criminal case through the San Fernando court system successfully.
If you have a case and you’re 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.
For more information on Structure Of San Fernando’s DA Office, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 542-0940 today.