Minor Charged With Homicide Found “Fit” for Juvenile Court

Posted on Friday, June 2nd, 2017 at 12:01 pm    

After an approximately two-week court hearing in Inglewood Juvenile Courthouse, a 17-year-old Spolin Law client facing homicide charges has been found “fit” to remain in juvenile court. While she could have faced life in prison in adult court, in juvenile court her maximum period of confinement is now eight years.

When a minor is charged with a crime, the prosecutor may petition the juvenile court to transfer the case to adult court. The vast majority of minors facing homicide charges end up transferred to adult court, where a finding of guilt routinely results in a lifetime behind bars. Minors kept in juvenile court are confined in Juvenile Hall, which must release them by the age of 25. While adult court is focused on retribution and punishment, juvenile court focuses on rehabilitation, and the educational and extracurricular activities offered in Juvenile Hall reflect this.

The minor was represented by Aaron Spolin throughout the proceeding. Further details of the case and applicable legal defenses cannot be disclosed due to the strict confidentiality rules associated with juvenile court. After the minor is arraigned in the juvenile court, the case will proceed to the pre-trial phase.


Claimed Civil Rights Violations by City of Oakland

Posted on Thursday, May 25th, 2017 at 2:57 pm    

By Rachel Silber, Spolin Law Criminal and Civil Rights Law Clerk

Earthjustice, purportedly the largest nonprofit environmental law organization in the nation, is representing a historically African American West Oakland community in a case that claims their civil rights have been violated by the City and Port of Oakland. For more than a decade, the City and Port of Oakland have allowed for numerous expansions in pollution-emitting activities. In response, the citizens of Oakland have described their experiences in decreasing health due to increased diesel emissions. The Pacific Institute, in conjunction with the Coalition for West Oakland Revitalization, found in a recent report that Oakland has diesel emissions 90 times higher than the California average.

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a pillar civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or nationality, the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project has filed a complaint in opposition of the city’s systemic neglect for its residents well-being. As 80% of the West Oakland city is populated with minorities, the Project alleges that that the community is suffering at the hands of racial discrimination from the City and Port. Margaret Gordon, a team member on the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project and community member for over 20 years, recalls how difficult and unjust it is to live with toxic pollution. The community’s struggle due to the City and Port’s approval for industrial expansion has increased unhealthy vapors that infiltrate both the lungs and homes of community residence. Yana Garcia, an attorney who focuses on environmental justice issues with Earthjustice, states that the City and Port have, “consistently ignored federal protections against discrimination,” and adds how the city’s administration does not plague other parts of Oakland, where the [racial] demographics are different.

The US National Library of Medicine lists in a 2001 medical journal how an “association between different levels of air pollution and various health outcomes including mortality, exacerbation of asthma, chronic bronchitis, respiratory tract infections, heart disease and stroke”  have been correlated. The seniors and children in the West Oakland community have experienced “gasping asthma attacks.” The residents have been reported twice as likely to be sent to the emergency room than the Alameda country average. A release from the Alameda Country Department of Public Health notes that the residents of West Oakland can expect to live nine years less than those on in other parts of Oakland. This does not sit well with the community.

The City and Port of Oakland receive federal funds. This means that Earthjustice can use Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, a section that declares that “any agency receiving federal money cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin.”  Because the City any and Port allegedly utilize these grants to fund projects that increase dangerous health hazards for the community, Earthjustice argues that the City and Port have a responsibility and obligation to ensure the safety and equal opportunity between Oakland districts. The complaint has been sent to the Department of Transportation as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If Earthjustice’s complaint is accepted, a full-scale investigation into the City and Port of Oakland’s engagements will be examined. The EPA determines if a complaint warrants an investigation within 20 days, with 180 to reach a conclusion. If the City and Port of Oakland are found to have committed the acts outlined in the complaint, the administration is given a chance to fix the issue. If the city’s administration chooses not to, the EPA has the ability to withhold federal funds. The withholding of federal funding does not equate to factories having to shut down. If they have the financial means, these factories have the chance to continue their operations, no matter the pollution emissions. Additionally, a possible conflict of interest between Earthjustice and their submitted complaint to the EPA may warrant more obstacles. With a political shift and a transitioning EPA, there may not be as much tenacity within the EPA to resolve the issue as there once was in previous years. Whether the political climate will affect this specific case is unknown. Nonetheless, Earthjustice highlights that communities with complaints under Title VI have been awaiting a response for more than a decade.

In October of 2016, Prologis, a major developer, was given permission by the City and Port to build an Oakland Army Base warehouse. What they did not include in their plan was an air quality improvement strategy. The community apparently expects 55 truck docks, and 78 truck trailer stalls. The amount of construction vehicles that number of parking stalls amounts to is unknown. Presumptively, the West Oakland community can expect a drastic increase in the poor quality of air with the addition of this new project. Even if the EPA accepts West Oakland’s complaint, with viable evidence against the construction of the Army Base warehouse, the EPA has never formally reported a violation of civil rights in the plethora of cases they’ve investigated. It is with this information that Earthjustice has made the additional move of simultaneously filing cases with the federal courts in California.

While there are laws to protect the environment, there are limitations inherent in the organizations tasked with enforcing these laws. Although California is at the forefront of environment protectionist laws, and Earthjustice is doing everything in their organizational power to defend the City of Oakland’s community, advocates argue that time is of the essence. With an increase in hospital visits in conjunction with an increase in construction and pollution-emitting activities, there is no resolution in sight. It will be up to Earthjustice and their push in the federal courts to yield results. In utilizing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect a community comprised of 49% African Americans, 17% Latinos, and 13% Asians, one may see how Earthjustice has a suitable case that may even be powerful enough to reach the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the health of the community is expected to continue its decline. The daunting odds and difficult path ahead will not stop West Oakland’s citizens and activist organizations from pressing forward in the fight for an improved quality of life.


Freedom of Speech on the College Campus

Posted on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 at 11:34 am    

By Rachel Silber, Spolin Law Criminal and Civil Rights Law Clerk

Los Angeles Daily News covered a story about Kevin Shaw, President of Pierce College’s Young Americans for Liberty, who claims that last fall he was banned from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution on his college campus. Pierce College’s Woodland Hills Campus has designated free speech zones; Shaw reports the space is about the size of three parking spots. Shaw filed a lawsuit against Pierce College’s Woodland Hills campus on Tuesday, March 28th, with the claim that the college has infringed on his civil right to freedom of speech. The Los Angeles Community College District has a rule that asserts its colleges are forums of public speech only in the selected areas. Shaw has voiced his disdain for the rule, claiming that other students feel the rule is “arbitrary.” The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group dedicated to defending the rights of students on college campuses, is on Shaw’s side. The foundation’s litigation director announced that public campuses are not allowed to limit students’ freedom of speech to tiny spaces. Pierce College allegedly had no further comments on the lawsuit.

Tinker v. Des Moines is a landmark United States Supreme Court case presiding over the function of freedom of speech in public schools. After the Vietnam War, many public schools designated freedom of speech to small zones in an attempt to limit protests. When two Des Moines, Iowa students wore black armbands to school in protest of Vietnam war, they were suspended. The first ruling in a U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the school, concluding that the armbands would disrupt student learning. After losing in a U.S. Court of Appeals, the students went directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ruling 7-2 in the favor of the students, the Supreme Court stated that students had free rights, and do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate” (Justice Fortas, Tinker v. Des Moines). In other cases, such as Morse v. Frederick, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that school officials have the right to prohibit students’ freedom of speech when encouraging illegal activities. After Tinker, two categories for the rights to freedom of speech have arisen regarding public schools. The first is that students have their right to freedom of speech, but secondly, school officials have the right to limit the speech if it is promoting illegal activities. Whether the court rules that Shaw’s activity in passing out U.S. Constitutions promotes illegal activities is unknown. However, many college campuses have reportedly been redefining their rules on freedom of speech, and expanding speech zones.

Public institutions, especially higher academic institutions, take great pride in their diversity. An academic environment in conjunction with a multitude of different political influences, there are bound to be some sort of chafing of ideals between communities. Free expression protects these communities when adding opposing views into the intellectual atmosphere a college campus provides. Nonetheless, The Washington Post’s, In Defense of Free Speech, reported that around 40% of millennials, the student body majority on college campuses, “favor government restrictions on offensive speech” (Petri, 2015).

There will be no punishment in the court ruling in favor of Pierce College or Shaw. The court’s conclusion on Shaw verses Pierce College could have the ability to outline other public institutions and its relationship to freedom of speech in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Until then, Shaw plans on not provoking the situation until the court makes a conclusion.


Weapon Possession and Child Endangerment: A News-Based Legal Analysis

Posted on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 at 11:16 am    

By Rachel Silber, Spolin Law Criminal and Civil Rights Law Clerk

On Sunday, March 19th, Manhattan Beach Patch reported a hit-and-run outside Los Angeles International Airport around 9am. The 41-year old man who was suspected of the hit-and-run allegedly had a loaded handgun inside his Chevy Avalanche, along with a 12-year-old child. Safety precautions led officers to remove the suspect from his vehicle, where he is described as becoming aggressive towards the officers and trying to jump back into his car. Officers then pushed the suspect to the ground, where he was taken into custody.  The 12-year-old child who was in the vehicle said that there was a loaded handgun in the car. Police later reported they had found a loaded Glock semi-automatic pistol in the suspect’s center console. The suspect was booked under charges of possession of a stole firearm, outstanding warrants, child endangerment, and resisting arrest.

California Penal Code section 25605 outlines rules relating to possessing a handgun. The Penal Code states a handgun may in certain circumstances be possessed by a legal resident over the age of 18, so long as the handgun stays within that person’s place of residence, business, or private property (California Penal Code § 25605). It is illegal to openly carry guns unless one has obtained the proper license to carry a concealed weapon.  Obtaining concealed weapon licenses in California is extremely difficult.  One of the many requirements is outlined in Penal Code section 31645, which necessitates a passing score on a firearms and safety test. However, one is not permitted to obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon if they are deemed lacking in moral character, or have no special purpose to carry a weapon. Whether the alleged hit-and-run suspect had a license to carry a concealed weapon is unclear. However, the fact that he was arrested outside terminal 2 of LAX indicates that he violated the restrictions that prohibit weapons in school zones, buildings housing governing officials, polling places, and public transit facilities. LAX being a public transit facility, carrying a weapon in its vicinity is illegal.

The courts do not take gun laws lightly, and California has a reputation for forcefully enforcing gun law violators.  Prosecutors routinely offer uncompromising plea deals to those charged with weapon-related offenses, and courts are loath to undercut these offers. The result for those with illegal firearms can amount to significant jail or prison time as well as substantial fines.

California Penal Code 273a defines child endangerment as, essentially, putting a child through physical or mental pain, allowing injury to a child under the adult’s supervision, or placing a child in a dangerous situation. This penal code is different from child abuse, as it allows for punishment even if a child doesn’t directly suffer injury. Child endangerment prosecutions can be initiated as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the case. A misdemeanor results in up to one year in county jail, whereas a felony results in up to six years in a state prison. It is common that if proof arises where a child is placed in a situation with risk of great harm, the suspect will be charged with a felony. The suspect has yet to have a court hearing, but due to the circumstances of the situation, it will not be surprising if he is charged with a felony. Endangering a 12-year-old child with a loaded Glock outside the terminal of one of America’s business airports has the potential to involve significant jail or prison time. Nonetheless, as with all criminal cases reported in the news, there may be more to the story than law enforcement has reported.  For example, there is a possibility that the suspect may have been lawfully carrying a firearm and simply forgot that it was inside his vehicle when he entered the vicinity of the airport.  However, we will have to save any discussion of possible defenses for another day or, perhaps, another blog post.


Spolin Law Wins Civil Rights Matter for Client

Posted on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 at 4:58 pm    

Spolin Law is pleased to announce a successful civil rights outcome for a client whose property was taken by the Covina Police Department, located in Los Angeles County.

In late 2016, the Covina Police Department (CPD) impounded a vehicle belonging to a Spolin Law client.  The vehicle also contained over eight thousand and three hundred dollars ($8,300) of the client’s property.  While the CPD eventually returned the vehicle, they refused to return any of the property.  The CPD claimed that the property was needed for an ongoing investigation into an individual who had no relationship with the Spolin Law client.

Spolin Law filed a legal motion in Los Angeles County Superior Court requesting a judicial order for the Covina Police Department to return all property to the client.  The motion was opposed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The Superior Court then conducted a hearing that spanned two days and during which multiple witnesses testified.  A Deputy District Attorney from the DA’s Office argued that, while there was no current known link between the property and any criminal activity, such a link may eventually be discovered; thus, the property should remain in law enforcement custody indefinitely.   Attorney Aaron Spolin cited the legal and factual bases entitling his client to the property’s full and immediate return.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge granted Spolin Law’s motion and ordered the full and immediate return of the property in question.  As directed by the judge’s order, the Covina Police Department released the property to the client on the following day.

For comments or to learn more about Spolin Law, call (310) 424-5816.


News Focus: Can “Defense Of Others” Apply In Animal Abuse Cases?

Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2017 at 11:59 am    

By Rachel Silber, Spolin Law Criminal and Civil Rights Law Clerk

Riverside Police arrested a man who is accused of killing a pit bull dog.  However, as the Los Angeles Times reported, the Pit Bull was attacking—and eventually killed—the accused man’s poodle.  Read the below analysis for a discussion of “defense of others” and animal abuse laws.

The poodle was on his owner’s property when the pit bull attacked.  After the pit bull clamped his jaws around the poodle’s body, it took three neighbors to unhinge the aggressor dog’s jaws and release the poodle.  According to witnesses, it appeared that the poodle was dead at that time. Authorities then report that the poodle owner (e.g., the defendant), killed the pit bull either at the end of or directly after the dog fight. (Los Angeles Times). On the suspicion of felony animal cruelty, the poodle owner was arrested. He was released on Christmas when he posted $10,000 bail. Whether the pit bull bit the accused when he was trying to unhinge the pit bull’s jaw is unclear. However, the accusation that the poodle was already dead before the pit bull was killed is a key factor in why this case is alleged to be animal cruelty.

Penal Code section 597, California’s animal abuse law, has very strict guidelines that outline what qualifies as animal abuse, and provide specific details to determine the severity of the case. These particulars determine whether the case is to be treated as a misdemeanor or felony. The Penal Code (PC) states that any person who, “maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures, or wounds a living animal, or maliciously and intentionally kills an animal” is subject to state imprisonment and/or $20,000 in fines if found guilty as a misdemeanor. (PC § 597) However, if the severity of the animal cruelty case warrants a felony, the punishment is subject to two to three years in prison. Additionally, Penal Code section 12022 conditions that the use of a deadly weapon in the case may add an additional year to the sentence (PC § 12022). The accused was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty because he reportedly violated Penal Code section 597 by intentionally killing the pit bull with a dangerous weapon. If the accused killed the pit bull after his own dog was already dead, and the accused knew that own dog was no longer in danger, that would preclude the affirmative defense of “defense of others.”

If evidence arises showing that the accused acted in defense of his dog while he thought the dog was still alive, then the nature of the case would shift. Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions 3470 outlines the particulars of “self defense”/“defense of others” and how it could be applicable to this case. The Judicial Council instructs that if the defendant reasonably believed the defense of another was needed to protect against immediate danger, then the defendant may use proportional force to act against the attacker. If future evidence establishes that the accused attacked the pit bull out of “defense of others” for the poodle while the poodle was still alive or appeared to be alive, then there may be a viable justification.  If a jury accepts a “defense of others” argument, then the accused must be found not guilty of that crime.

California self defense law was shaped by the 2005 court case People v. Lee, which held that “the defendant must actually and reasonably believe in the need to defend, the belief must be objectively reasonable, and the fear must be of imminent danger to life or great bodily injury” (Cal. Ct. App. 2005).  If one feels his or her life is in immediate danger, human or animal, they have the right for self-defense. Another legal defense that often pertains to animal cruelty cases are accidents. California Penal Code 26 positions accidents as a viable legal defense if the crime was not committed intentionally (PC § 26).

Law enforcement authorities are currently conducting an autopsy of the pit bull dog. Depending on whether the accused has a criminal record, he could face significant time in state prison if found guilty. The severity of this type of case can result in hefty fines, if not a considerable amount of jail time even if the case is reduced to a misdemeanor. This case demonstrates the seriousness with which law enforcement take animal abuse cases as well as the limitations of “self-defense” and “defense of others” arguments.


Spolin Law Civil Rights Report – Threatening Letters Sent to California Mosques

Posted on Thursday, December 1st, 2016 at 2:20 pm    

By Rachel Silber, Spolin Law Criminal & Civil Rights Law Clerk

A slew of California mosques received hateful letters from an anonymous group titled “Americans for a Better Way” on November 28th, as reported by KTLA News. The letters were sent to Southern and Northern California mosques, as well as Islamic Centers in San Jose, Claremont, Long Beach, and Northridge.  They were addressed “to the children of Satan,” calling Muslims “a vile and filthy people.” KTLA story link: LAPD, FBI Address Threatening Letters Sent to California Mosques.  LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing noted how hateful rhetoric is rooted in fear and escalated by the charged political climate. However, according to the article, Downing believes that these letters are not to be considered a hate crime; rather, they are classified as a “hate occurrence.” One of the letters went on to predict that the federal government would carry out violent, genocidal acts against Muslims.

The rising pressure on Muslims and Islamic culture has been propelled by recent political conditions. The rise of Islam as an minority faith in America can be argued to increase anxiety among certain members of dominant religions. These reservations on Islamic culture, intensified by foreign events and the rise of ISIS, are expressed through hateful mediums, such as these letters (cited above). Although Downing claims that these letters are not to be considered a hate crime, one can argue otherwise. According to a 2015 Huffington Post article, the liberty of religious freedom rests upon civil and political freedoms. And as of November 30th, 2016, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has reported over 100 incidents against Muslims since the presidential election.

Religious freedom is something that Western culture has prided itself on.  Religious rights were written into the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and this document is supposed to protect people of all religions, allowing them to freely practice their faith without discrimination. It is a federal crime to threaten or imitate people because of their religion.  Although LAPD claimed these letters are not hate crimes, it can be argued that when these letters referenced an Islamic genocide, a threat was made against a religious group. Regardless of whether “Americans for a Better Way” will be prosecuted, one theme is evident: a rise in religious intimidation is a cause for concern.


Spolin Law Negotiates Two Recent Dismissals

Posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 at 8:00 am    

[Update 1/31/17: The below article announces the November 2016 negotiation of two dismissals for Spolin Law clients.  Since the publication of this article, both cases have been formally dismissed.]

November 30, 2016. Spolin Law is pleased to announce two negotiated dismissals on significant cases within a two-day span.

On the first case, a Spolin Law client was facing felony charges in Riverside County for allegedly violating Penal Code section 136.1(c)(1) (“Felony Threats to a Witness”).  This charge would have been punishable by state prison for two, three, or four years.  Attorney Aaron Spolin, a former prosecutor, is representing the client and took a “trial focused” approach from day one.  He communicated to the assigned Deputy District Attorney an unwillingness to settle for anything less than an outright dismissal, given the client’s clean record and the likelihood of a defense verdict at trial.

Based on this trial-focused approach, the Deputy District Attorney agreed to dismiss the case as long as the client provides letters of reference from members of the community regarding the client’s character, which Spolin Law will help the client to do.  The next court date is coming up next month.  A case dismissal means that there will be no criminal record.

Two days prior to this negotiated dismissal, Spolin Law also negotiated the pending dismissal of a misdemeanor case in Los Angeles County.  The client was charged with violating Business and Professions Code section 25661 (“Using a Forged Identification Card”).  Mr. Spolin also personally represented this client and negotiated a dismissal, which will occur after the client completes twenty hours of community service at an organization of the client’s choosing.  The dismissal will result in no criminal record for this client as well.

These results are based on Spolin Law’s comprehensive approach to criminal defense.  Every legal step is taken to achieve a fair outcome for clients.  This includes preparing each case for trial so that negotiations with the prosecutor’s office can be carried out from a position of relative strength.

For comments or to learn more about Spolin Law, call (310) 424-5816.


Los Angeles Criminal Court Subpoenas

Posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 at 11:31 am    

What is a Subpoena?

A subpoena is a formal demand for a person to testify in a court. A prosecutor or defense attorney may issue a subpoena to a person for his or her testimony or to a person for him or her to bring documents or other evidence to court.

When is a Subpoena Issued By a Criminal Court?

Our California Constitution provides that a defendant in a criminal case has the right to confront accusers and may compel witnesses to appear at a court proceeding to testify on his or her behalf. At the same time, the state has the right to require witnesses to give testimony in criminal cases. Both sides use a subpoena to compel witness appearance.

There are two different types of subpoenas. A subpoena can be issued to make a witness appear at a hearing. Another type of subpoena, called a subpoena duces tecum, can require a witness to produce documents or other evidence at a hearing.

Subpoenas For Non-Party Records

Sometimes documents are needed from a non-party. Those records can be obtained directly by either attorney if the person or entity from whom the records are being sought signs an authorization to release them to that attorney. Otherwise, that attorney may need to have a subpoena duces tecum issued and signed by a judge or other court personnel, requiring that the non-party deliver the documents to the court for the court to review them before deciding whether the attorney, usually the defense, is entitled to receive the documents.

Who Serves a Subpoena?

A subpoena can be served personally by anyone other than a defendant in the case. Although peace officers are required to serve subpoenas for the parties in a criminal matter, as a matter of course, private defense attorneys often use private process servers to ensure that subpoenas are served in a timely manner. Service of the subpoena must give the witness sufficient time to prepare and to travel to the place specified for the appearance.

A subpoena may also be served by mail or by messenger, However, when these methods are used, the service is not effective until the witness acknowledges the receipt of the subpoena either by telephone, mail, email, or in person.

Distance Issues In Subpoena Service

If the witness is located 150 miles or more away, special handling of a subpoena is required. The person seeking to compel the witness’ appearance must show the judge why this witness testimony is required. This is usually done by affidavit or declaration. If the judge feels that the witness testimony is material to the case, the judge will order that the witness be compelled to attend. Likewise, only a judge can order that an out-of-state witness be compelled to attend a hearing within California.

Subpoenaing Law Enforcement Officers

Service of a subpoena upon a peace officer is made by serving two copies of the subpoena to the officer’s immediate supervisor or whatever agent is designated to receive subpoenas on the officer’s behalf. Some counties allow service to be effected electronically via email or other designated device.
The superior may refuse service if insufficient time exists to deliver the subpoena to the officer. If a subpoena is served on the superior less than 5 days before the hearing date, the superior may refuse service.

Witness Fees

The court can grant $12 per day for each day’s attendance, a reasonable amount for necessary expenses and, up to $18 per day, rather than $12, if the witness is employed and the employer does not pay the employee’s wages for the time the employee is at court.

Quashing a Subpoena

A court may quash a subpoena for the appearance of a witness if the facts warrant it; such is the case when the testimony that would be offered is not material to the case. When documents are ordered to be brought to the court, a judge may review the documents out of the purview of the parties to determine whether the subpoenaing party is entitled to receive the documents.

An attorney may also object at the hearing or trial in addition to, or as an alternative to bringing a motion to quash a subpoena.

What To Do When The Witness Fails to Appear

If a witness who has been properly subpoenaed fails to appear, counsel’s only remedy is to ask the court for a continuance. If a subpoenaed witness fails to appear, counsel may be able to obtain a warrant from the court ordering the sheriff to bring the witness to court. A failure to appear on a proper subpoena may also subject the witness to a contempt order from the court. If the witness is on call after being properly subpoenaed and fails to appear, the subpoena must state that failure to appear according to an on call agreement may be punishable as contempt, in order for the court to order the witness in contempt.

What Difference Does a Good Lawyer Have Regarding A Subpoena?

The quality of your attorney can have a significant impact on the subpoenaing and handling of witnesses at a hearing or trial. Subpoenas are highly technical and a good attorney will understand how to subpoena your witnesses and what to do if they fail to appear so that your criminal proceeding is handled quickly and efficiently.

To learn more about subpoenas or how to handle a subpoena in the Los Angeles area, call Spolin Law at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation.


Los Angeles Criminal Court Arraignments

Posted on Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 at 5:18 pm    

What Is An Arraignment?

An arraignment is the process where the defendant formally hears the criminal charges and has an opportunity to enter a plea (e.g., guilty, not guilty, no contest, etc.). In Los Angeles County it is one of the first stages of the criminal process. Arraignment is usually the first time a defendant is brought before a judge, informed of his or her rights, and given an opportunity to admit or deny the charges.

It is also the time when the prosecutor’s charging document is filed with the court. The charging document is technically called a “complaint,” “information,” or “indictment,” depending on the type of case. The document will lay out the crimes that the prosecutor says the defendant committed.

When Does The Arraignment Occur?

Arraignment usually occurs after the defendant has been arrested. When a defendant is kept in custody after being arrested, the arraignment must occur within 48 hours of the arrest. The 48-hour period does not include weekends or holidays, however, so a Friday arrest can result in a long period of jail time before arraignment, as can any arrest during or directly before a major holiday.

Do You Need To Be Present At Your Arraignment?

If you are charged with a felony you generally have to be physically present at arraignment. If you are charged with a misdemeanor you generally do not have to be present if you have an attorney who can appear on your behalf. Nonetheless, a judge can still order your appearance on a misdemeanor case. If you are not released after your arrest, you will be present at your arraignment because the officers will bring you to your arraignment while in custody.

What Happens At Arraignment?

During arraignment the judge, a clerk of the judge, or a prosecutor will read the charging document out loud. The judge will try to determine the defendant’s true name, in case he or she was arrested under an incorrect name. The judge will also advise the defendant of his or her rights, as determined by the US and California constitutions and California law. The defendant will then have the opportunity to enter his or her plea (including guilty, not guilty, no contest, or similar plea).

Finally, the judge will decide whether the defendant has to be in jail while the case progresses or whether the defendant can be free during the course of the case. Judges frequently set a “bail” amount, which means that the defendant will be kept in jail unless he or she deposits the bail money to the court. That money is returned to the defendant (or whoever paid it) at the conclusion of the case as long as the defendant showed up for all mandatory court dates.

What Happens After Arraignment?

At the end of the arraignment the judge will set a schedule for the case. Dates for pre-trial motions and hearings will be set. A motion is a legal request by one of the lawyers for a certain action, like a defense lawyer’s motion to suppress evidence or dismiss the case. The trial date can also be set at arraignment. If the judge sets a bail amount, the defendant will be given a chance to pay the bail after arraignment.

What Difference Does a Good Lawyer Make At Arraignment?

The quality of your attorney can have a significant impact on the arraignment. This is in great part because of the attorney’s role in the bail argument. During arraignment the judge will decide whether to keep the defendant in jail until the case is over or release the defendant for the duration of the case. A judge can also set a huge bail amount (e.g., $1,000,000 bail), which effectively means that the defendant will stay in jail for the entire case.

An experienced and articulate attorney will more likely be able to make strong arguments to the judge regarding release and bail. If your attorney is able to argue for a low bail amount, this can be the difference between months in jail before trial versus months living free and fighting the charges from the outside.

To learn more about arraignment or how to fight criminal charges in the Los Angeles area, call Spolin Law at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation.

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