Legal Guide

Criminal case process in Long Beach

Criminal case processes are lengthy and can take several months to reach a sentence.  Criminal laws of California are also applied in the beautiful city of Long Beach. The following are steps involved criminal case process in Long Beach.

  1. Arrest

If you are involved in any of the criminal cases then the police arrest you and take you to jail. Here police investigate the evidence and send the report to the District attorney or city attorney.  You can be released from jail if the prosecutor does not want to file a case against you. If he files a charge then he decides the type of charge felony or misdemeanor. He can file all the charges applied to you by the police or can file few charges.  Once the charges are decided then you can post bail. You can be released from jail with the promise that you will appear in the first court hearing. The date of the first hearing will be informed by the police or district attorney. If you are held in jail then the police are responsible to carry you to court for the first hearing.

  1. Arraignment

After the completion of all processes of arrest, now it is time for your first appearance in the court which is called the arraignment. Here in this hearing, you will be informed about the charges on you, your constitutional rights by the judge. The judge can also appoint a free lawyer for you if you are not having money.

In this hearing, you can respond to the charges against you by entering the plea. There can be the following three types of plea.

  • Guilty: it means you have accepted that you have committed a crime. After this, the judge will enter the conviction in the court record.
  • Not Guilty: This means that you have not committed a crime. This not guilty plea can be part of the strategy for the plea bargain or you want to go to trial.
  • No contest: This means you don’t disagree with the charges. This is just like a guilty plea.

After entering the plea following decisions are taken by the judge if you are in the custody.

  1. The judge can release you on your recognizance
  2. The judge can set bail and send you to jail till the bail is posted
  3. The judge can refuse to set the bail and you will be sent back to jail

In the misdemeanor case

If you are charged with a misdemeanor case and entered a not guilty plea then the following will happen.

  1. Both the prosecutor and your attorney will meet in a meeting called discover during which they will share information. You may get limited information but your lawyer can get complete to protect the identity of the witness by law.
  2. Either prosecutor and your attorney will file pretrial motions like motion to cancel complaint, motion to dismiss the case, or to prevent the use of witness during the trial
  3. You can change your plea to guilty or no contest
  4. The judge, the prosecutor, and your lawyer can talk to resolve the case without a trial.

In the felony case

After the arraignment, the judge will hold the preliminary hearing if the case is not settled. At this hearing, the judge will evaluate the evidence and can ask you to appear in the trial if he finds sufficient evidence. If the evidence is sufficient, the prosecutor will file a document called information. This will to your second arraignment during which you will enter a plea and proceed to trial. Following are steps taken before the trial process.

  1. The process of discovery starts again during which lawyers from both sides exchange information. You will be given limited information but your lawyer will get complete information to protect the identity of the witness by law.
  2. Either prosecutor and your attorney will file pretrial motions like motion to cancel complaint, motion to dismiss the case, or to prevent the use of witness during the trial
  3. You can change your plea to guilty or no contest
  4. The judge, the prosecutor, and your lawyer can talk to resolve the case without a trial.

Trials

If you are arrested with a criminal case then you have the right to have a jury of your peers decide your guilt or innocence. So, before the start of the trial, you will decide whether to go for the jury trial or court trial. Usually, the defenders go for jury trials. But there are some conditions when the defense lawyers recommend a court trial without a jury trial.

It should be noted that all defenders are presumed to be innocent until convicted either proved guilty in the trial or by the guilty plea before the trial. The prosecutor will convince the jury with evidence that the defender is guilty.  The defender can remain silent during this stage and his/her silence is not against his favor.

Jury Trial dates

  • Misdemeanor case

According to section  1382 of the panel code,  if you are charged with a misdemeanor then the trial should start immediately. It is recommended to start the trial within 30 days of arraignment or plea whatever is later if the defendant is in custody, but if the defendant is not in custody then within 45 days of arraignment or plea. You can waive the right of speedy trial but still, the law says that trial should be started within 10 days after setting date for the trial. It is recommended to discuss this waived time with your attorney.

  • Felony Case

According to law, if you are charged with a felony then the trial should start as early as possible. The prosecutor has to file the information within 15 days of the preliminary hearing.  It is recommended to start the trial within 15 days of arraignment.  You can waive the right of speedy trial but discuss this waived time with your attorney.

The Trial Process

Following are some of the steps of the trial.

  1. The lawyers from both sides will choose a jury before the start of the trial.
  2. The lawyers of both sides have the right to give an opening statement about the case.
  3. During the trial, the lawyers of both sides will present the evidence and witnesses.
  4. The lawyers give arguments after presenting evidence and witnesses
  5. In the end, the jury decides if the jury is guilty or not guilty. The guilty should be beyond reasonable doubts.

The verdict

The jury can release you if you are found to be not guilty. There is a difference between finding not guilty and innocent. Finding the not guilty means that the jury was not convinced that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The criminal record will show arrest. If the defendant is wrongly arrested and charged then the arrest will be removed from your criminal record. In this case, a hearing is held in front of the judge to determine the innocence of the defendant. After the verdict, you can be sentenced if found guilty.

The appeal process

You have the right of appeal if found guilty in the trial. The appealing process is not only difficult but also important deadlines apply. If you are unable to meet the deadlines then the appeal will be dismissed. Following are some of the deadlines.

  1. You have to file the appeal notice within 30 days of the judgment in case of a misdemeanor case.
  2. You have to file the appeal notice within 60 days of the judgment in case of a misdemeanor case.

The Appeal is not a new trial. The appellate court reviews the evidence presented in the trial and tries to the legal errors in the evidence presented in the trial. You have the right of appealing only for the following.

  • You think that there was not sufficient evidence in the trial to prove the verdict.
  • If you think that there were mistakes of law during or before the trial that destroyed your case.

If you stand with the first point of the above two then the appellate court will review the record and decide whether there was sufficient evidence to support the judge or not. But if you stand with the second point, then the appellate court will hold the hearing and listen to lawyers of both sides, and then decide whether there are mistakes or errors in the law or not.

If you are involved in a criminal case then decide about hiring your attorney as early as possible. Because before the start of the criminal process.  Choosing a lawyer can be a difficult task because there are many lawyers and public defenders available in the city of Long Beach. But real task is to choose the right lawyer for you who is not only competent but also the expert of contesting criminal cases.  In my opinion, get the services of the Long Beach Criminal Lawyer and hire him after discussing your case.


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