The California Bar Association allows any attorney that is licensed with them to practice law in any field, in any city, as long as it is in California. This, as you can imagine, is an increasing number of lawyers. If you have been charged in the South Bay for a criminal offense, it is important for you to know whether you should be hiring a South Bay criminal attorney.
Whereas it helps to have an attorney that is in the South Bay, it does not necessarily mean that the attorney must have an office in South Bay and practice only in South Bay. The important thing to note is not that the attorney must be “born and raised” in the South Bay, but that they practice frequently in the area and are familiar with the Courts.
To fully understand the situation, let’s consider an example that illustrates the difference.
Larry is a brand new attorney. He has worked with the District Attorney’s office and he has worked as an intern with the Public Defender. He has experience in Criminal Law, but he has worked primarily in downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Criminal law is the same throughout the state, and so, there should be no difference whether Larry is practicing in Santa Monica, or the South Bar. Larry’s rates are reasonable because he is brand new, and is just getting his feet wet. While the practice of criminal law and the Penal code are no foreign concepts to him, actual practice as a private defense attorney on his own, is.
Larry accepts the case at a very low rate. He walks into court on the morning of the Arraignment and goes straight to a prosecutor that he sees and starts his argument and negotiation. The Prosecutor looks at Larry, annoyed and give him a plea bargain. Larry believes that the offer is too high based upon his own experience and denies the offer. He then asks the Court to set it for Pre Trial. At the Pre Trial the Prosecutor makes an offer that includes minimal jail time, and the Judge confirms it. Had Larry known the Prosecutors and the Judges, he would have known to accept the first offer, and that based upon the facts he might not have gotten what he wanted for his client .
If Larry had known and been familiar with the South Bay courts, he may have waited or negotiated with a different Prosecutor. He may have asked the Judge to be changed right off the bat, before continuing the case to Pre Trial. These are small, but very important things to know. What should be noted is that the law is not different in each courthouse, it is always the same. The way each court does things may be different. What matters is how each courtroom likes to operate and the offers they make. This will aid the Criminal Defense Lawyer in making the right decisions and the right argument for his client.