The Van Nuys Court in the San Fernando Valley handles felony, misdemeanor and traffic cases. In this blog, I will discuss the misdemeanor procedures from criminal cases in Van Nuys court. Misdemeanor criminal cases are handled differently than felonies. For felony procedures in Van Nuys court, please see my previous blog here.
The Misdemeanor Arraignment
In Van Nuys court, misdemeanor arraignments not involving traffic and DUI matters are held in Department 101 on the fourth floor. If the misdemeanor case deals with either a vehicle code violation or the person is charged with driving under the influence, then the arraignment will be held in department 103 which is located on the 4th floor.
As I discuss in previous blogs, the arraignment is usually the first hearing a person has before a judge in a criminal case. At that hearing, most Defendants plead not guilty and start the process of defending themselves before the criminal court. In many misdemeanor cases, the Defendant did not appear if he has retained a criminal attorney. The criminal lawyer can appear in that person's behalf.
Unlike felonies, misdemeanor criminal cases do not have preliminary hearings. In Van Nuys court, cases are randomly assigned to a trial department to handle all the pretrial matters and also the trial if the case goes that far. These departments are located on the 7th floor of Van Nuys courthouse, with the exception of department 105 which is located on the eighth floor.
Most cases in Van Nuys court are resolved at pretrial and do not ever go as far as a jury trial. If, however, a case is heard at trial in Van Nuys court, the trial pretrial department will usually also be the court where the trial occurs.
The Prosecutors Office
Misdemeanor criminal cases in Van Nuys court are usually prosecuted by the Los Angeles City Attorney. They are the main prosecuting agency for the City of Los Angeles. Knowing how to deal with a particular agency is part of the knowledge that a criminal defense attorney will acquire over years of practice.
Different agencies have different procedures, retaining an attorney with experience handling criminal cases can greatly benefit the client. Because different agencies handle cases differently, a person who is thinking of retaining a criminal lawyer should always inquire how much experience that criminal lawyer has dealing not just with the court where the case is but also with the persecuting agency handling the criminal case.
The Ninety Day Rule
In an effort to cut costs and save money, many courts around Los Angeles county have begun to limit the amount of time a criminal case can be pending. That means a case must be either dismissed, a plea bargain needs to take place or the case needs to go to trial faster than previously.
In Van Nuys court, a misdemeanor criminal case must be resolved within 90 days after the arraignment. Judges will apply pressure on Defendants and their attorneys in order to meet this deadline. This does not leave a lot of time to resolve issues that may arise in a criminal case. That is why it is crucial to contact and retain an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible to ensure the best outcome on a misdemeanor criminal case in Van Nuys court.
Your Attorney Matters
Hiring a qualified and experienced criminal lawyer for your case can not only keep you of jail in a misdemeanor criminal case but also save you money in court fees and fines. Early intervention by an experienced criminal lawyer can make all the difference.
Vitaly Sigal is the principal and founder of SIGAL LAW GROUP. He has over twenty years' experience handling criminal cases. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, call today for a free consultation and case review (818) 325-0570 or contact Mr. Sigal by email directly.