It's interesting because I do a lot of murder cases and I've been doing criminal defense and handled all sorts of cases over the course of the last twenty-five years. In general, there's really no different between murder cases other offenses. In other words, it's a situation where someone is charged with doing something. They either admit they did it and work out some sort of a deal or they said they didn't do it and they go to trial and they fight it. Then, it's a matter of the prosecutors proving the intent to kill for murder. They have to have malice. There's a number of different ways to prove that. Then they have to prove that they're actually the ones who committed whatever offense it is that they are accused of committing.
If it's a murder charge, they'll be accused of killing another person. Then the prosecution is going to have to be able to block any defenses, like self-defense, defense of others. So, it's really not any different. I guess where the issue comes in is, number one, there's a lot on the line. If somebody is committed of a murder, a lot of times they're looking at the rest of their life in prison, especially depending on how the murder was committed. Was a weapon used? What were the circumstances of the murder? Are there any gang-enhancements? There are a whole host of things that can make the case more serious. The bottom line is, one big thing that makes murder cases different than other offenses, is that there's a lot at stake.
Another thing that I can put my finger on since I've done a lot of cases in Los Angeles that makes these cases different from other cases, is that the prosecutors will assign a specific prosecutor, which is not like other cases.Usually the other cases just go through the system. Also, typically whatever prosecutor is assigned to a murder case in Los Angeles, probably just does murder cases, so they have a lot of experience. They have good connections with the police. They know how to investigate the cases and they know how to prosecute them. So, that definitely makes murder cases different than other cases in Los Angeles.
In handling a lot of murder cases in LA, one thing I've seen is that the investigation is usually better than the investigation for other related offenses. For example, they're going to have homicide detectives who are seasoned — many years on the job, know how to investigate these cases and they have all of the technology. That's another little sub-category. They have a lot of technology in these cases. They do surveillance, wire taps, execute search warrants. They have all sorts of different things that they do in these murder cases in order to get the result they want, which is a conviction. The sophistication of the prosecutors and the investigation is better in my experience in LA, than in any other crime.
Another thing that differentiates murder cases from other cases — again, in my opinion — I'm just giving it to you from an insider, criminal defense attorney — is that the judges are much more careful what they do in these cases. They're going to be more careful about setting the bail. The bail might get set higher than normal because when something wrong happens in these murder cases, judges are going to be held accountable if they didn't do what they were supposed to do related to the case. So, I think there's just more scrutiny on judges, so they're going to be much more careful how they set the bail and how they rule on the motions. That's another big thing, because a lot of times the prosecutors try to sneak in evidence in these murder cases, and I as a defense attorney, am going to file a motion to block that evidence form coming in. If a judge is ruling in favor of the prosecution because he or she is worried that somehow they're going to be perceived for being too soft on crime. It's going to get in the papers. There's a lot of political pressure on these judges when it comes to murder cases, to make rulings that are acceptable to the public; acceptable to the power that be, like law enforcement, the Police Association, etc.
You have to get an attorney that's done a lot of these cases. I've definitely done a lot. I know how to handle these cases. I know what to do. I know how to angle the cases up, how to investigate them and how to challenge the prosecutors. The truth is, in a murder case in Los Angeles, there's just a handful of attorneys that try these cases. From what I've seen, a lot of attorneys are afraid to try these cases. I've seen attorneys do Preliminary Hearings and trying to negotiate cases, and all of a sudden, I get the case, and I say to the defendant, what happened to your other attorney, and he said, he doesn't take these cases to trial. Why is he even on the case in the first place? Do you think you're going to be able to effectively investigate a case that you're not going to take to trial, that you don't have the ability, the skill and tenacity?
You've got to make sure you find the right attorney, because if you don't, you or your loved one is going to be in a world of hurt and sometimes it can be too late to help yourself.
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