There is a process to the criminal court. A person is not automatically found guilty of a crime and sentenced. There are many hurdles and protections given to each and every person through the United States Constitution so that their rights are protected.

When a person has been arrested, they are arrested based upon the officer’s observations and Judgment. This does not mean that a person has been charged. The officer will prepare a report that essentially states the reasons they believe a person should have been arrested. They must also state the reasonable cause they had to make the arrest in the first place. Once this has been completed, the officer will give their evidence and report to the Prosecutor’s office.

The Prosecutor’s office is aware of the elements that they must provide beyond a reasonable doubt in order to find someone guilty of the offense they have been charged with. For example, for a person to be found guilty of driving under the influence in Los Angeles, they must show that 1) the person was driving and 2) the person was intoxicated at the time they were driving. Both elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence is weak, or does not support such a conclusion, Prosecutors will not waste resources and will not formally charge the person.

If you have been arrested for a Los Angeles Hit and Run, you have not yet been convicted. When you are charged, it is basically like the government stating that they believe there is enough evidence that you have committed a Hit and Run, but until you either enter a plea of guilty, or a jury finds you guilty, they cannot convict you and issue a sentence.

The code section under which you will be charged, and the type of Hit and Run you will be charged with will depend on the facts of your case. There are a few different types of Hit and Runs, as you will see below.

  1. Car versus Pedestrian

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, whether it be a drinking while intoxicated or a Los Angeles Hit and Run, you will be required to enter a plea. You may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. What the overall consequences are will depend on the type of criminal offense you are being charged for.

  1. Infraction

An infraction is the lowest level of criminal offense. Infractions are comprised of offenses like parking tickets, traffic tickets, public nuisance or disturbing the peace. These charges are very simple and straightforward. Oftentimes they do not require a court appearance, you can pay a fine and have the case closed. The penalty is generally nothing more than a fine. An infraction does not go on your criminal record and you are not required to report it on applications that ask for your criminal history. If you are charged with a criminal offense, this is your best possible outcome.

If you have been arrested for suspicion of having committed a criminal offense, you have not yet been charged. The officer who arrested you will prepare a report and provide it to the Prosecutor’s office. Prosecutors will then review the information and determine if a case should be opened, and then you will be formally charged.

Waiting to hire a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer until you have been formally charged is not a good plan. There are many things you can do to help prevent the charges from being filed in the first place, but you have to act quickly. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Attorney has years of experience in preventing charges from being filed, and successfully defending cases in Court. As such, the attorney knows the right strategy to take to help give your case the best possible chance of being dismissed.

An attorney can contact the police department and speak to the officers about your case. It is harder for a person who does not have a working relationship with the officers or Prosecutors to contact them and to discuss the details of a specific case. It is also inadvisable because it may lead to statements that could later be used against you in Court. Having an attorney will not only allow the attorney to contact the police department more efficiently, it will also help prevent any incriminating statements from being made.

If you have been arrested for a criminal felony offense, chances are you have been kept in custody. At your very first appearance in Court, the Court will hold a bail hearing. At the bail hearing, a bail will be set, or you may be released on your own recognizance. The outcome of the hearing will be determined by the court’s consideration of a few factors, and the attorneys’ presentation of the facts and evidence.

As stated, the Court will review whether the person being detained is 1) a flight risk and 2) whether they are a danger to society. The prosecutor will present evidence and testimony to demonstrate that the person is a flight risk and they would be a danger to society, and the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney will present testimony and evidence to demonstrate that the person is not a flight risk and they are not a danger to society.

Let’s consider examples of how a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney can argue for release.

If you have been arrested or cited for a Hit and Run in Los Angeles, it  can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Which charge it is will depend on the facts of the case. Prosecutors review the officer’s statements, witness statements and the evidence to make a determination.

A Los Angeles hit and run is charged under California Vehicle Code § 20002, 20003, and 20004. If there is damage to property, it will be charged under California Vehicle Code §20002. If there is injury to person it will be charged under California Vehicle Code §20003, and if there is death it will be charged under California Vehicle code §20004.

Whether it will be charged as a felony or misdemeanor under each statute will depend on how bad the damage to property is and how bad the injury is.

Los Angeles County has started a new diversion program that encourages the dismissal of Los Angeles Hit and Run Charges. It has proven to be a very useful tool to many experienced Los Angeles Hit and Run lawyers who are looking to have the cases against their clients dismissed. It has also been beneficial in taking the power out of the hands of the victim to have the charges dropped, and placing it in the hands of the person who has been charged.

To qualify, the charges against you must be that of a misdemeanor. If it is a felony, the case will not qualify for dismissal. Once you have been arrested or cited for a Hit and Run, prosecutors will review your case, just as they generally do. They will look at the evidence, the statements from witnesses and the victim if any, and make a determination as to whether charges will be brought. At this time, under the new legislation, prosecutors will also review whether you case will qualify for a diversion program. If the prosecutors find that you do not qualify, that is not the only option. You can also file a motion with the Court to request that your case be considered under the diversion program.

If you qualify, the court will ask you to complete certain conditions, and enter a plea of guilty, or no contest (nolo contendre). You will then need to complete the conditions. This could be restitution, rehabilitation, fines, or even community service. Once completed to the Court’s satisfaction, the Court will dismiss the charges against you.

In an effort to help reform our criminal justice system, legislators have launched a pilot program in Los Angeles County that helps offenders get rehabilitated and reformed, rather than punished. Codified as 10001.94 of the California Penal Code, the law allows for certain people to have their cases dismissed if certain conditions are met .

Who Qualifies?

Not every offense will qualify under the Los Angeles diversion program. First off, the program only applies to misdemeanors, so even if the offense generally qualifies for dismissal under the program, if it is charged a felony, it will not qualify. The diversion program does not apply to the following offenses:

Oftentimes people who have been charged with a criminal offense mistakenly believe that they can handle the matter on their own. This can have significant consequences on not only that person’s case, but their future. There are many benefits to having a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on your side.

Appearance in Court

Your first appearance in Court for a criminal offense can be nerve wrecking. You do not know what the process will be like, what will happen, or what to do. In addition, you may have to take time off of work, get there an hour before the Court opens so that you can wait in line, and anticipate that you will be there all day until your name is called.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is nothing more than a charge against you. Oftentimes, an arrest alone does not manifest into a charge. You may appear in Court on the date assigned, and find that no charges had yet been filed. However, that is not always the case.

A charge alone does not lead to a conviction.  You can only be convicted in one of two ways; 1) you enter a plea of guilty, or 2) you are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in trial. There are ways to prepare your case so that you give yourself the best possible chance of getting your case dismissed, or in the very least reduced.

There are many different ways you can fight a Los Angeles DUI Offense.