To kind of have a feel for how the prosecutors will handle your case or your loved one's case starts the process of taking control of your case. When you get arrested and are thrown in jail you have to post a bail or you're cited into court, whatever the case may be.
It really throws you into a tailspin and it starts a process by which people really have a lot of anxiety and pressure on them, because again, they're losing control of their situation, of their life and of their future.
They're afraid that they're going to be thrown into custody and there's a whole host of other ramifications such as a criminal record, not being able to own, use or possess a weapon, not being able to vote and other societal issues that comes up when somebody runs your record and you try to get a job.
District Attorney's Office Prosecutes Criminal Cases
To start to understand how the system works will help you start to take control of your case and begin the process of getting you out of the criminal justice system. The District Attorney's office in the Pomona's courthouse is the one responsible for prosecuting cases.
The police investigate the cases. They write-up a police report and do whatever they think they need to do and then they turn over all their information to the prosecutors who are lawyers like me, who are going to go over everything, decide what charges to file and then decide what position they're going to take in dealing with the case. So understanding how they work and how they're set up is obviously beneficial.
There's about a thousand prosecutors in Los Angeles county. Pomona is one of the jurisdictions in the east-end of Los Angeles and the criminal cases are dealt with by the District Attorney's office who basically has the hierarchy of having a deputy in charge.
This is a prosecutor who's in charge of that particular location who obviously, has to answer to the head deputy of Los Angeles county, Jackie Lacey and obviously, she has other bosses that that prosecutor will have to deal with if there are any issues.
But that particular prosecutor is in charge of Pomona — calls all the shots, deals with all the big cases, decides whether or not strikes will be stricken in a case. If it's a murder case that's under that prosecutor's jurisdiction they're usually the one who is going to make the final decision on whether there's going to be an offer in the case. So, all of the serious cases are usually going to go through that prosecutor.
Assistant Head Deputy in Pomona Court
Moving down from there, there's usually a second in command — an assistant head deputy. The DA's office in Pomona — in any of the offices — is basically like a corporation where they have a power structure.
So the assistant head deputy is going to deal with cases as well. Will obviously deal with disciplining any of the prosecutors, but usually it's kind of more in touch out in the courts dealing with cases, the prosecutors, defense attorneys.
Then moving down from there you have the prosecutors who staff the trial courts and then the prosecutors are kind of running around doing preliminary hearings. In Pomona, which is a special court, they've got a prosecutor who just sits in Dept. F and is usually responsible for resolving just general cases.
So, that prosecutor actually has a lot of power because there are a lot of cases that go through Pomona's doors, so that prosecutor is going to touch most of them. Unless they're specially assigned to certain prosecutors, that prosecutor in Dept. F is going to be the one that is basically their calendar deputy that sits in there and makes all of the offers on the cases. So, that's usually who you're dealing with if you're a criminal defense attorney in trying to resolve your case.
Negotiation with Pomona Prosecutors
If you can't resolve it with that prosecutor, then you would either go to the assistant head deputy or you'd go to the head deputy. I had a second-strike case there recently and I just went right to the head deputy because most prosecutors — and I think Pomona is no exception — the head deputy is usually the one who has the power to strike a strike unless that head deputy gives that authority to the second in command.
So, usually if it's a strike case and you're trying to get one strike stricken, two strikes stricken in the Pomona court you're usually going to want to go to the head deputy. If it's a serious case — a murder case, an attempted murder case — you're usually going to want to go through the head deputy.
The head deputy doesn't want to have to deal with every single case, otherwise they'll be inundated with too many cases and won't be able to do anything. So, if they're smart, they're going to give some power to the second in command and then also give some power to the deputies.
But usually, you can bet if it's a serious case, the defense attorney is going to have to go through that head deputy to deal with it, otherwise you're negotiating with the prosecutors who are assigned to the case.
If you reach an impasse, then we pretty much have to decide whether or not we're going to take the case to the second in charge or to the head prosecutor in a Pomona court.
You're usually not going to go beyond the head prosecutor. Other prosecutors who are in downtown Los Angeles, kind of their power structure, are not usually going to trump the head prosecutor in any of the courts, including Pomona. So, it's usually something that you're not likely to see happen.
Judge's Don't Normally Get Involved
Usually you're not going to get a judge involved. The judge is usually not going to undercut the prosecutors, but there are some circumstances where the table is set for you to attempt to go to the judge and see if the judge will undercut the prosecutors.
Usually you're going to do that with the judge in Dept. F, but other judges have the authority because they control the sentence in all criminal cases. So, unless it's a case where there's mandatory minimum sentences — the prosecutor basically controls that — the judge is usually not going to dismiss a case unless you do a preliminary hearing and convince the judge that the prosecutor simply doesn't have a case.
So, if you've got a case in the Pomona court and you need an attorney who has experience in dealing with these prosecutors and the power structure there, then you're obviously going to want to come to somebody like me who has 26 years of experience in dealing with all sorts of different cases and knows how to maneuver a case through the Pomona courthouse.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.