Criminal convictions carry consequences that can impact your life for years. If you are found guilty of a crime, you may face jail time, immigration consequences, difficulty finding employment and housing, and you may be forced to pay heavy fines. Criminal cases do not always go to trial, and a strong defense lawyer will negotiate and work to secure the best outcome for their client throughout all phases of the case. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we represent people faces charges for sex crimes, drug offenses, domestic violence, white collar crimes, and other misdemeanor and felony crimes. Attorney Comings brings extensive knowledge of criminal procedure as he works to obtain an acquittal, reduction, or full dismissal of criminal charges for people throughout Riverside and nearby areas.California Criminal Procedure
Criminal procedure refers to legal rules that must be followed in a criminal case. In California, these rules begin with setting a time period within which the state must formally bring charges, and extend to post-trial motions. The guidelines set forth in California criminal procedure laws must be adhered to by both the state prosecutor and the defense.
Following an arrest, the state has a limited period of time to schedule an arraignment. The purpose of this formal hearing is to provide the defendant information regarding the criminal charges filed against them. The defense receives a criminal complaint with a police report. The judge may ask how the accused pleads to the charges. The defendant may enter a plea, such as “Guilty,” or “Not Guilty.” There are other pleas, such as no contest and not guilty by reason of insanity.
During an arraignment, the accused must be advised of their rights. These include the right to an attorney, the right against self-incrimination, the right to be released on reasonable bail, the right to confront witnesses and question them, and the right to a speedy trial. Regarding bail, a skilled defense attorney can argue for a reduction in bail if it is set too high. The defendant may also be released on his own recognizance, if they are in custody as of the arraignment date.
Typically, appearance is required in felony cases. However, a defendant may have their attorney appear in their place for most misdemeanor cases. Domestic violence cases and protective order violations usually require the defendant appear in person.Pretrial Conferences and Preliminary Hearings
During an arraignment, dates are set for either a pretrial conference or a preliminary hearing.
If the criminal charges are misdemeanors, a pretrial conference will be set for approximately 30 days after arraignment. Felony crimes require a preliminary hearing usually within 10 days after arraignment, unless the defendant waives time.
A preliminary hearing is when a judge determines if the state has enough evidence to force a defendant to stand trial. This evidence includes physical evidence as well as witness testimony. During a preliminary hearing the prosecution carries the burden of proof. This means they must show probable cause that a crime was committed and probable cause that the accused is the person who committed that crime. If a judge determines that there is probable cause, they will set the case for trial. If there is no probable cause, charges will be dismissed.
Pretrial hearings provide an opportunity to resolve the case without proceeding to a more formal hearing. Many criminal cases are resolved before they reach trial. Typically, when attorneys meet following arraignment, they engage in plea bargaining. The advantage of plea bargaining for the prosecution is that they obtain a conviction, and the defense may be able to plead to a reduced plea or lesser sentence than if convicted on original charges.Defense Pretrial Motions Challenge the Prosecution's Case
California criminal procedure allows defendants to file pretrial motions. A motion is a request for the judge to take action. The purpose of these motions is to challenge the prosecutor’s case, often by attacking their evidence.
Common pretrial motions include Penal Code 995 motions to dismiss, Penal Code 1538.5 motions to suppress evidence, and a Pitchess motion. A defense attorney raises these motions orally or in writing, depending on the motion. For example, if law enforcement gathered evidence in violation of the defendant’s rights, the defendant can argue for the inadmissibility of such evidence by filing a 995 motion to dismiss.Consult a Riverside Criminal Procedure Defense Lawyer to Learn More About Your Rights
No two criminal cases are identical, and Riverside Attorney Gregory H. Comings understands that strategies must be tailored to the unique nature of every situation. Selecting the right legal representation is critical to the outcome of your case. To learn more about your case, contact the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings. Reach our office by phone at (951) 686- 3457 or online.