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Criminal Case: Can We Get This Over With Now?
The COVID-19 Pandemic resulted in Criminal Prosecutors throughout the Los Angeles metro and surrounding areas to file cases later than normal. The situation was worse in Orange County California. For example, many first time DUI misdemeanor cases in Orange County were set for first court hearings 9 or 10 months after the DUI arrest. This was in part due to government employees working from home. Working from home during the pandemic resulted in a much less efficient pace then in-office coordinated efforts. (Our tax dollars at work.) Notwithstanding, it goes without saying that some of the fault lies simply with serious human concerns that we all have. Many prosecutors were reporting COVID-19 problems with staffing, and there were some deaths. Our love goes out to them, just as it does to all people who suffered during this time. Notwithstanding, now in late 2022, heading into 2023, an almost-post-pandemic era, the prosecutors have tightened up their operations a bit, but not back to normal. They are still filing cases late, just as they did before the pandemic, but in greater numbers.
Regarding criminal prosecution delays, here is a law guide attorney David Dastrup provided to the public via Avvo in 2016, that is still valid today, and will probably be valid forever since the government will virtually always abuse its position -- you simply cannot force the prosecutor to file your criminal case in court timely and definitely not as soon as possible. All things considered, the COVID-19 Pandemic increased prosecutor delays. Once the government gets another inch, they rarely give it back.
Pre-Court Defendant Negotiations with the Prosecutor?
Criminal defendants often ask, "Can I talk to the prosecutor before my court date?" However, there are several reasons why this should be placed in the trust and care of a defense attorney.
Criminal Case Anxiety is Common, But You Usually Cannot Rush the Case
The anxiety of having a pending criminal case ( often leads to brainstorming about what can be done now. It is good to think about what you can do before your court date. And it is good to also be patient for the first court hearing.
However, preparation for a defendant does include talking to the police to incriminate oneself or banging on the prosecutor's door demanding service. Preparation for the defense may start with an investigation, gathering documents, and consulting with an attorney.
However, speeding up the defense is usually not helpful and often does not work. Once a case is in court, there are times a defense attorney will see an opportunity to push the case forward to take advantage of the prosecutor's lack of a preparation or a witness, but this is not nearly as common as delays to seek a better option.
Notwithstanding, it is extremely unlikely that the defense could, or would even want to, rush the case into court. Again, speeding things up is usually not available. Chances are that a prosecutor has not even looked at the case until shortly before the day of the first hearing.
A Local Attorney Will Know the Possibilities Beforehand
Talk to a local attorney who knows the court, the prosecutor, and how these types of cases usually resolve. Previous case results do not determine how your case will resolve, but it makes for a fairly good measuring stick. Certain variables are good predictors of possible resolutions. For example, it is common for first time offenders to get some kind of deal that does not include jail. Sometimes if you comply with certain terms the case could be dismissed, like a deferred entry of judgment program, known as a "DEJ." Having a dismissal is probably more important than a reduction in fine because then you do not get a criminal conviction on your record.
Prosecutor Will Not Talk to You Beforehand
You really cannot talk to the prosecutor about your case in advance. They are busy. They do not represent your interests. They will have your file in court on the day of the first hearing. They will probably have decided in advance what plea-bargain they are going to offer you. In addition, you may get a court offer that is entirely different. However, sometimes an attorney can get a better deal than a pro per (person representing themselves) because they get to negotiate with the prosecution or talk to the judge in chambers. A pro per is not going to get a chance to negotiate with a prosecutor or a judge, it is usually just take the offer or leave it.
Hiring an Attorney Protects Your Rights, Avoid Incrimination
You should protect your rights and fight your case unless you get a resolution that you find agreeable. An attorney knows what those rights are and how to protect them. Probably best not to talk to a prosecutor. Do not incriminate yourself. Let an attorney advise you and do the talking for you. Be patient. That is the safest bet.
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