Santana and Carlos Law Firm, P.C.
500 Second St., Yuba City, CA 95991
Phone: 530-822-9500 Fax: 530-751-7910
Monday–Thursday 8 a.m.–6 p.m.
Friday 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Flexible schedule before/after hours also available
Understanding the Criminal Court Process. What are Criminal Actions? Criminal actions generally are brought by a state or federal prosecutor against the person or persons accused of a crime. Because a criminal case is really a claim that society has been wronged by the alleged commission of a crime, the government prosecutes the wrongdoer on behalf of society. Therefore, in a criminal action, the government is always the plaintiff.
The initial appearance in a case is usually the arraignment. An arraignment is conducted in open court, where the judge reads the criminal charges and states the substance of the charges to the accused. At the arraignment, the defendant may plead not guilty or guilty. If the defendant enters a plea of guilty, he or she is sentenced. If the defendant enters a plea of "not guilty", he or she has indicated to the court an interest in defending the charge(s). The plea can always be changed later to "guilty" if the defendant likes the terms of a plea bargain being offered by the prosecutor. In the best of circumstances, your attorney may get your case dismissed due to lack of evidence or a violation of your rights! Once you have pled “not guilty” the case proceeds to a “pre - trial” and “preliminary hearing” within several months.
The prosecutor and your attorney will discuss your case, the evidence against you, and what the prosecutor hopes to get by way of a plea bargain. If there are grounds to dismiss your case, these will be presented to the prosecutor at this time. If it is to your benefit to have your attorney share with the prosecutor your theory of defense in order to get a dismissal, that will occur. Every case is different and requires a different approach. Negotiations between your attorney's office and the prosecutor can take place over several sessions over weeks or months. If your attorney can get an exceptional deal, a plea bargain might follow the pretrial. If your attorney thinks you would be better served by taking the case to a jury of your peers, they will not settle. Handling of a criminal case in this negotiation stage requires that the attorney have a lot of experience, familiarity with the rules and practices of the local courts and prosecutors, and well reasoned strategies.
The key to success, whether in a plea bargain or trial, is thorough preparation. This means hiring an experienced attorney who will examine all the police reports, hiring an investigator to interview witnesses, inspect and take photographs of the crime scene, examine and take photographs of the physical evidence and measurements, and hiring expert witnesses who will examine and conduct DNA and other tests on the physical evidence to show a court or jury that they have the wrong person. If you are the right person but were not in the right frame of mind, a mental defense must be fully prepared. For this, attorneys use psychologists and psychiatrists. A well prepared attorney will lead to good results, including dismissal of charges, or reduction of the charges!
When a person is arrested for a felony, the procedure is more complicated because the charge is more serious. There are two levels that a defendant must go through prior to trial. At the first level, a defendant has an arraignment, usually several pre - trials, and a preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing the court ascertains whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime
was committed and the defendant may have committed it. If the court believes there is probable cause, the accused then proceeds to the second level and is bound over to the Superior Court for trial. Whether your case is a felony or a misdemeanor, your att
orney should take the same aggressive stance in representing you, both before and during trial.
The trial is where your case is presented to a jury for the jury’s determination of what the facts really are. Who sits on your jury is as important as how your case is presented and argued to that jury. Your attorney’s expertise should include choosing an unbiased jury and in keeping the jury thoroughly engaged throughout the trial. Your attorney should also be an expert in cross examining law
enforcement and other government witnesses. At the trial stage in the process, your life and/or liberty are at stake and it is critical to be represented by an attorney who has extensive experience with proven results!
500 Second St.
Yuba City, California 95991
Santana and Carlos Law Firm, P.C.
Your Liberty Is Our Top Priority
©2016 Santana and Carlos Law Firm