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Interpreters In Los Angeles County Courthouses

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Jun 19, 2018

There are many different languages spoken in LA county. So, when somebody is arrested and charged with a crime and sent into a criminal court, if they do not speak the language or do not understand what's going on inside the courthouse, then they will be appointed an interpreter who speaks their particular language. There's a number of interpreters that are just stationed inside every single courthouse. For example, Spanish speakers are in every single courtroom in all the courthouses in LA county.

So, if you're charged with a crime and you need an interpreter, you just need to tell your attorney that you need an interpreter and the attorney will alert the court and the court will make sure that an interpreter is available for you during all the court proceedings, and obviously, if you need to talk to your attorney or if you need to fill out any paperwork. The courts are very serious about every person knowing their rights and being aware of what's going on inside a courthouse. If the person speaks a language that is not a common language that comes through the court all the time, there are typically interpreters for that as well. They just have to be ordered every single time the person goes to court to make sure that their there, and that sometimes can be time-consuming while you wait for the courts to get an interpreter – especially if it's a language that is not always in the courts. Sometimes that person might be stretched a little bit thin going from court to court. So, again it's your attorney who can assist you in making sure that you understand everything that's going on in the court with your interpreter.

Can Not Understanding The Language Or Having An Interpreter Permit You To Withdraw A Plea?

It's very common that people will come back months and years later and claim that they did not understand what was going on in court and that's why they took the deal they did. A lot of times we see this in immigration situations where somebody is now being deporting from the country. Now their immigration attorney presses them to claim that they didn't understand certain things. If this occurs, then there would be a motion filed to withdraw the plea based on the person not understanding. Obviously, if the person doesn't speak the language very well or didn't speak the language very well at the time of the plea, they may have an angle here to attack the plea. Of course, if you attack the plea and say you didn't understand and it's withdrawn, a lot of times the prosecutors can still pursue you – still charge you. You're just given an interpreter and then you're permitted to defend yourself. So, as you can see, having an interpreter in court is very important because if you don't understand everything, sometimes you can get yourself into a mess or plead guilty to something that you're not guilty of. Also, you're not able to communicate with your attorney so that your attorney totally understands what's going on with you – what your possible defenses might be, and obviously, what your side of the story is. Without your side of the story, your attorney cannot fully represent you. That's really a legitimate argument in my opinion if someone is not using an interpreter, they don't speak very good English and their attorney is not able to get their side of the story. This would be a good argument that any of the proceedings relating to that situation should be null and void and the person is entitled to have an interpreter at all stages of the proceedings.

Do You Actually Have To Pay For The Interpreter In LA County?

Typically, all interpreters in criminal cases are provided free of charge because everybody is entitled to have their rights protected and everybody is obviously entitled to understand exactly what's going on with their criminal case. Where it sometimes gets a little bit tricky is if your attorney wants to visit in custody, then typically if it's a private attorney, they're going to have to pay an interpreter to go out, meet them there and it's going to have to be a court-certified interpreter. Beyond this, in any of the court proceedings, the court will make sure that you get an attorney. If you have the public defender, the public defender can get the attorney for free for you and be able to communicate with you in and outside of court.

Does It Have To Be A Court-Certified Interpreter That Is Used For Court Proceedings, Or Can It Just Be Anybody Who Speaks The Language In LA County?

When it comes to criminal cases, it's crucial that whoever is interpreting be certified by the court. Every time that person makes an appearance in the court, they have to say what their badge number is, and they have to keep up with certain standards to make sure whatever language they're interpreting for a criminal defendant in Los Angeles, they're doing it the right way and they understand it. I can't tell you how many times transcripts have been transcribed by an interpreter who doesn't know what they're doing, and they mess it all up and they don't interpret the right way and that can be crucial, because if things aren't interpreted the right way, then a person cannot totally understand what's going on. So, whoever the interpreter is in court has to be a court-certified interpreter and has to put their certification on the record, so when they're interpreting the courts are satisfied that they're interpreting the right way and that the person understands them. Also, a lot of times what happens is somebody will enter into a plea and a form will have to fill out where the person has to read that, so in that circumstance, the court interpreter is responsible for reading the document to the person in their native language, and then certifying and signing at the end that they interpreted that. Of course, the court is going to ask the person – hey, did you get this read to you by a court-certified interpreter? Did you understand it? Do you have any questions? So, having an interpreter in an LA court speaks your language, your dialect that you understand – it's crucial and it's part of the criminal process.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.