A Motion To Dismiss A Criminal Case – Penal Code §995 Motion in Los Angeles
After a preliminary hearing in a criminal case, if a defendant is held to answer – meaning the judge finds there are sufficient facts to bind them over into the trial court – meaning that the prosecutor was able to show all the necessary elements of each crime charged at the preliminary hearing – then the defense can file what is called a 995 Motion, basically making the argument that the judge or magistrate at the preliminary hearing level was wrong in their ruling and they should have dismissed on or all of the counts in the complaint.
This is where it gets a little confusion because typically at the preliminary hearing level, the charging document is called the complaint, whereas after the preliminary hearing – if you’re held to answer on certain charges – the new charging document is called the information. So, information and complaint are basically the same things in a criminal case. But this concept of a 995 Motion, you’re going to have to argue to the judge that the magistrate was wrong. They didn’t prove all the facts necessary to get me for robbery or burglary. You can argue that they didn’t’ even bring any evidence towards any of the elements or to a particular count.
Where people get a little confused is, prosecutors can put on evidence – maybe it’s a week or not reliable or maybe it’s debatable. Then you can bring evidence on that shows that you’re innocent. And then people are saying why doesn’t the judge get rid of it with the 995 Motion? Because that’s not really the test. If the prosecutors can bring evidence and you can bring evidence, and if the prosecutor’s evidence was believed they could win, the case is going to trial. They’re going to then let a jury decide whether or not you’re innocent or guilty of the charges.
These 995 Motions are not usually granted because the standard is so low at the preliminary hearing – all they have to show is a reasonable suspicion that you committed the crimes that you’re charged with. That’s not a very high standard. That’s not proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. You’re entitled to that at a jury trial, not at a preliminary hearing. So, the concept of a 995 Motion sometimes deceives people. They want to get their case dismissed, but you obviously have to have grounds and facts and circumstances to win the 995 if you’re going to expect to have the chance to do something like.
Is There Another Use For A 955 Or Motion To Dismiss A Criminal Case In Los Angeles Besides Trying To Get Rid Of The Case?
There is another use for 995 Motion besides trying to get the whole case dismissed, and that is to try to show the prosecutor and the judge weaknesses in the case so that you can try to negotiate a favorable disposition. After the preliminary hearing, the case usually gets sent to another court. Not always, but usually, there’s a new prosecutor. The new judge knows nothing about the case so, they’re not just going to start picking stuff and reading it. The criminal defense attorney is going to have to bring things to their attention otherwise they’re not going to do much and they’re not going to listen to a lot of your arguments.
So, one tactic I use is to file a 995 Motion trying to get the case dismissed, but if I don’t, at least the judge and the prosecutors will have to read the preliminary hearing transcript in order to prepare to deal with a 995 Motion and then they’re going to know what my arguments are. They’re going to know what the weaknesses are in the prosecution’s case, and now the table has been set for me to come in and say listen, you’re not going to dismiss it, fine, but my client needs a lesser charge. My client needs a better deal here. He or she is not going to charge to that charge. She’s not going to go to jail or prison. So, it really is a nice tool sometimes. You can’t just file a frivolous 995 Motion, otherwise, you’re just wasting everybody’s time and they’ll get mad at you. But, if there are grounds there – even if you might not be successful – it’s a good way to lay the groundwork to try to get the case resolved, get a lesser charge and fight some of the things that you don’t want – and really to show the defendant’s side of the story so it’s not just some one-sided account of what happened.
So, a 995 is a very effective tool. If you have a situation where you’re considering having your attorney file a 995 after the preliminary hearing, give me a call. We can sit down and discuss it. Obviously, whoever the attorney is, is going to have to read the preliminary hearing transcript or have done the preliminary hearing to have a good feel for the chances of success for a 995 Motion in one of the Los Angeles courts and whether it really would help set the table to resolve your criminal matter.
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