Informational Videos

Criminal Process

WHAT DOES THE “CRIMINAL PROCESS” MEAN?

The criminal process in Los Angeles has many different components to it and means different things to different people. If you are charged with a crime, then basically it is important for you to understand that there are a number of different paths a criminal case can take depending on what your strategy is in the case. Your strategy should be created by you and your attorney working together in order to resolve your case in the most effective manner possible. Using the criminal process to a client’s advantage is the way the best attorneys in L.A. make their living and serve their client’s at the highest level.

THE “INVESTIGATIVE PROCESS” IN A CRIMINAL CASE

In general, before a case is filed in Los Angeles, law enforcement must investigate the case and determine if there is evidence that a crime has been committed. There are many different law enforcement agencies and they are all in the competitive business of ferreting crime. They have many tools available to them in order to investigate a criminal case. They can go to a judge and have a search warrant issued, they can do a surveillance on a person or their property in order to gain evidence of a crime and they can actually see a crime occurring or obtain evidence from witnesses related to the commission of a crime. Once they have thoroughly investigated the subject crime, they must then present the evidence they have to the prosecutors. In Los Angeles County, the District Attorney’s Office prosecutes felonies and the City Attorney’s Office prosecutes misdemeanors.

“THE ARRAIGNMENT” IN A LOS ANGELES COURT

The arraignment in a criminal case is typically the first court appearance and the beginning of the criminal case in court. The person who is charged in the case will be able to see what they are charged with and will usually enter a plea to the charges. Depending on the strategy of the attorney, it is also possible to continue the arraignment if appropriate. Further, the judge will set the bail in the case at the arraignment and that will be the bail for the rest of the case unless there are changed circumstances to warrant a higher or lower bail. The bail is set based on the charges (this is called the “statutory bail”) and what the judges in Los Angeles have come up with for the bail for each crime that a person can be charged with. Once the bail is set, a new court date is typically set in order to give the defendant’s attorney an opportunity to review the discovery, confer with their client, investigate the case and make decisions on what, if any, motions to file and how to defend the case.

THE PRELIMINARY HEARING IN A LOS ANGELES CRIMINAL CASE

The preliminary hearing is a proceeding wherein the prosecutor must present the evidence they have that shows that a particular person committed the crimes that they are charged with. In order to bind a person over for trial, the prosecutor must show by a reasonable suspicion that the person being prosecuted committed each element of the crimes that they are being charged with. If there is an element missing from any given crime, then that charge must be dismissed by the judge. If, on the other hand, the prosecutor has presented enough evidence to show that a person committed a particular crime, then the charge will be bound over to the trial court for further proceedings. The preliminary hearing is a critical stage in the proceedings because the defense attorney is given the opportunity to challenge the prosecution’s evidence and cross-examine all of the witnesses that are called. An effective cross-examination can set the ground work to win the case at a future trial.

THE TRIAL PROCESS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

As most people know, if someone is charged with a crime in California, they are usually entitled to have a jury trial to decide whether they are innocent or guilty of the crimes they are charged with. In some case, both the defendant and prosecutor can waive the jury trial and permit a judge to decide whether a defendant is innocent or guilty. When the trial starts, each side is entitled to give an opening statement as to what they believe the evidence will show in the case. Because the prosecution has the burden of proof, they must put on evidence first to show that the person charged committed the subject crimes they are charged with. After each witness testifies, the defense is given the opportunity to ask questions of each witness in order to challenge the prosecutor’s case. Once the prosecution has presented all of their evidence, they will rest and the defense will be given the opportunity to present any relevant evidence they have to present. The defense does not have to present any evidence if they do not want to and the defendant does not have to testify. The defense can simply rest on the state of the evidence, because the defendant is presumed innocent unless the prosecutors can present sufficient evidence to prove otherwise. For more information about criminal process call us at (866) 986-2092 or fill out contact form.