What Happens at my Los Angeles Criminal Hearing if I am not There?

The only time it is detrimental to not show up in court for a scheduled hearing is when you are not represented by an attorney. If you completely fail to show up, and do not have an attorney present in Court for you, you run the risk of being charged with a Failure to Appear. A Failure to Appear is a charge on its own and can lead to additional criminal consequences. If you do not have an attorney appearing on your behalf, it is mandatory that you appear in Court on the day you are scheduled to appear.

If you do have an attorney, it will not be detrimental to your case for you to not appear in Court. The Judge will not decide your case more favorably if you are present, and Prosecutor will not take sympathy on you because you made the effort to appear in Court. The attorneys will look at the facts of your case, as will the Judge and they will make an order based on those facts. Your presence does not factor into their decision as to your charges and your potential sentence.

In fact, the prosecutor and the Judge know that you have a job, and that you have obligations outside of court. They know that you have responsibly hired an attorney that will be present on your behalf in Court and that attorney will represent your best interests.

When your attorney appears at an Arraignment, it is a fairly quick and simple process. The attorney will speak to the prosecutor about your case. While the attorney is discussing the potential sentence and the plea bargain offer the prosecutor is willing to make, you are not allowed to be present. All negotiations are at the attorney table, where clients do not come unless they are called by the Judge. These negotiations are in regards to the plea bargain; the offer the prosecutor is willing to give if you agree to plead guilty without taking the case to trial.

If the offer is one the attorney feels is not reasonable, the attorney will recommend entering a plea of not guilty and setting for pre-trial, where the attorney has another opportunity to negotiate with the Prosecutor and get a better offer. If this is the case, oftentimes the attorney does not even appear before the Judge or go on the record. He or she may merely speak to the clerk and set the hearing out another thirty days. While your Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney speaks to the clerk, you are not allowed to be in that area. You have to wait where all other people are awaiting their turn to speak to the Judge. The Judge may not even see that you are present in Court.

If the offer given by Prosecutors is a good offer, then the attorney might believe that it is in the best interest of their client to accept it. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney will never enter a plea of guilty without speaking to their client first.

Furthermore, the court will never take a plea of guilty without having a client sign a Tahl Waiver that advises them of their rights and is signed and initialed by the party waiving their rights. If you are not present in Court, the attorney will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case as well as the pending offer. Then you will have time to think it over, and at the next hearing can enter your plea in person. If you are unable to be present in Court, then you may have the Tahl Waiver notarized and your attorney will turn it into the Court on your behalf.

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