August 18, 2014

brown concrete building

Steps In The Criminal Process

The pretrial is fancy way legal way to say negotiations  and everything before the jury trial.  Because trial is the final step in your case it is important to handle all the business before the costly process.  A trial can take up a courtroom, a judge, 50+ jurors, a bailiff, a staff, for an entire week. The pretrial process give both parties a chance to work out their differences before embarking on this costly venture. 

Before the prtrial process begins there is a hearing called an arraignment. An arraignment is a date where a defendant in a case can accept or deny the charges or crimes against them and a chance for the court to discuss conditions of release. Release Conditions are discussed below. These comes up in DUIs and Domestic Violence cases. 

Bail Happens at the Arraignment and before the Pretrial Process. 

In the Orange County Superior Court System, Conditions of release will be often  discussed at Arraignment and before the pretrial process  for Domestic Violence and DUIs.  In these situations bail will be discussed and the issues of whether a person is a danger to society or is a flight risk will be weighed out. In practice when a person is represented by counsel, a judge will seldom weigh in flight risk unless the defendant has ran multiple times.  A judge is more inclined to factor in whether a person is a danger to society if released. 

The judge may either order the criminal defendant  released OR (which is a fancy way of saying promise to appear)  but order a condition of release such as not to drink and drive or live peacefully with their victim of a domestic violence case or request a bail release.

If the judge orders bail release then the person must get in contact with a bondsperson to pay a premium for bail. The nail company will post their money to the court and the sheriff will ensure the defendant’s release from custody once they get the bond. 

If You Can’t Afford Bail

However, indigent defendants and people who have issues with money can request for a Humphrey hearing. This is a way to get the judge to consider a defendaant’s ability to get bail money to pay for their bond. The policy is because the system does not want  people to plea guilty to just get out of jail. It is during this period that a a judge can order a person released with bond or order some kind of pretrial release where a defendant will promise to certain conditions as long as they are not a danger to the community. Exmaples of condition of release are 

  • DUI Cases: Do not drink or drive with any measurable amount of alcohol
  • Domestic Violence Cases: Stay away from victim or only peaceful contact

Various Types of Pretrial Motions

The pretrial process is also a time where both sides can exchange discovery about the case and run pre-trial motions. Pre-trial motionsis fancy way to say little mini evidentiary hearings before the big trial. 

Discovery is a fancy way to say lets trade information and see what you have. It is during this process that both sides can see what type of evidence the other side will put on. During this period is also when the attorneys can run pretrial motions to dismiss the case before the criminal trials.  Some of these motions can be a 1538.5 motion to suppress or an Evans motion for the purpose of identification. These have the potential to end the case without a guilty plea if they are successful. 

It is during this process that exculpatory evidence (evidence good for the defense)  can be discovered by the defense. In addition with the discovery the defense can comb thru the report and find statements that can’t be brought into court because it is a hearsay evidence. It is during this process that the plea bargaining begins. 

Judges Act as Referree During Plea Bargains

Judges may step into this process if they find that the parties are not being reasonable and try to mediate the case. For example, a prosecutor may want 20 days of county jail on a 2dn lifetime DUI but 1 within 10 years and the defense attorney would disagree with this. If this happens, then defense counsel can request a chambers where they would go back and fourth. 

What Factors Judges Think About for Sentencing. 

Several factors are taken into consideration for the judges chambers conference before he makes an indicated sentence. An indicated sentence is a fancy way to say punishment for the crime.. The judge will play the role of a mediator. They will  take into account the behavior of the client after before and after the crime. The judge’s concerns is whether the our client will make make another mistake if he is given a chance.  They are looking for reasons like whether our clients have reformed. Other factors taken into consideration by judges are the victims. the victims should be reimbursed.