Knowing what a jury trial is and how it might relate to your case, and specifically, how they work in Los Angeles criminal courts I think is important because that's really how we reference and judge criminal cases.
In other words, a lot of people say, no Mr. Hedding, I don't want to go to trial. I know I shouldn't do a trial, but really that's kind of the framework from which you need to look at your cases, and that is, from a jury trial framework. In other words, if your case went to trial would you win it or would you lose it?
If you would lose it why would you lose it? How strong is the evidence against you if the case were to go to jury trial and what evidence will the prosecutor use? What witnesses, what videotapes, what photographs? How are they going to prove the case against you?
The reason I like to look at that in some cases is because I'm really trying to assess whether or not my client has a chance to win the case or not. If they don't have a chance to win the case and I can see why they don't have a chance to win the case, then obviously we're not going to take the case to a jury trial.
Plea Bargaining in a Criminal Case
We're going to be geared towards trying to resolve the case. Trying to plea bargain. Trying to do damage control. Trying to send a mitigation package to the prosecutors so we can talk about the case. So, that's why we talk about jury trials because I have a lot of clients that are shouting and screaming about their rights being violated and about the fact that the prosecutor has a bad case against them.
They can't understand how they were arrested. They can't understand how they are being prosecuted. But then when we start talking about a jury trial and talking about the evidence they're going to use to prove the case against you and we start to see that they actually could prove the case against you, then there's no use in wasting your breath and wasting your time pining away over winning the case.
Why are you being prosecuted? Because once you look at whether you could win in a jury trial or not, if you determine that you can't win, don't talk about that anymore. That's irrelevant. If you're going to lose the case if we go to a jury trial then we need to plea bargain the case and try to work something out for you.
Jury Trial in Los Angeles County
Now we have to look at what actually happens in a jury trial in Los Angeles County. There's 25 different courts and all the courts kind of handle jury trials with their own little twists. There are a lot of similarities.
There's a lot of ways that things are handled the same in each courthouse, but as a defense attorney – I've been doing this for over 26 years, when I go in to do a jury trial, I want to know some things. I want to know who my judge is because that judge is going to be the one making rulings on the criminal case.
That's obviously an important thing to know — how's that judge going to rule? Is that a conservative judge? Is that a liberal judge? Is it a fair judge> These are the type of things I want to know before I do a jury trial because I'm going to prepare accordingly based on how I think that judge is going to rule on objections, my pre-trial motions and a whole host of other factors?
Another thing I want to know in a jury trial in Los Angeles is what type of a jury pool do I have. Do I have a conservator jury pool or do I have a more reasonable jury pool? For example, the jury pool in Valencia in the San Fernando/Van Nuys area, that's more of a conservative jury pool. They're drawing jurors from Canyon Country.
They're drawing jurors from the Stephenson's Ranch area. They're drawing jurors that are more conservative and in my opinion, having done this a long time — done over 250 jury trials — they're going to be more likely to rule and find against my client than a jury for example, in downtown Los Angeles, which I think is more of a much reasonable jury pool — maybe in Compton court.
There's a host of courts that are kind of much more reasonable and then I would say there's a list of courts that kind of sit in the middle range. In other words, not real conservative and not real liberal. So, you want to know your jury pool before you take a case to trial because you're going to know who you're arguing to. You're going to know how to present your evidence.
Witnesses in a Criminal Jury Trial
Another thing you probably want to know when you're deciding whether to do a jury trial or not is, is your client going to testify as a witness and if they are going to testify a witness because we feel it's in their best interest to do that, we're going to make sure that the client is prepared to testify.
They know what to say, knows how to answer questions from the prosecutor — because one of the biggest reasons that criminal defense attorneys don't have their client testify is because if during their testimony either during direct examination or cross-examination, that client is perceived as lying or not telling the truth, in my view they're going to lose the case because their credibility is crucial when it comes to a jury's determination.
If the jury looks at the client and says that person is not telling the truth, they lied about that — even if it's a little thing — they're going to think they're guilty.
Whereas, if the client doesn't testify the jury never hears that. There's all kinds of law and jury instructions that say you're not to consider that a client didn't testify. You can't use that against them, that they didn't testify. They don't have to.
They have an absolute right not to testify. So, that's another big thing that I'm considering when I'm deciding whether or not to do a jury trial.
Strength of the Prosecution's Case
Probably the biggest thing that any great criminal defense attorney is going to consider when assessing whether or not they should do a jury trial is the strength of the prosecution's case. If the prosecutors have weak case, if there's issues with the case, if there's holes in it, if they made a rush to judgment and your client wants to take the case to trial, now we're talking.
Now we have a stage set to be able to win the case, to be able to take it to trial and show a jury that the prosecutors do not have the case here. Their case doesn't hold water. They haven't proved it. In fact, something else is going on here that they haven't even considered when they originally investigated this case.
When you have that type of a backdrop, that type of evidence, now you're in a position to fight the prosecutors and take the case to jury trial and depending on which court you're in, who the prosecutor is, who the judge is, these are all things that your criminal defense attorney is going to assess in determining exactly what your strategy is going to be moving forward with making the decision to do a jury trial and if you do decide to do a jury trial, deciding whether your client testifies and exactly how you're going to attack the prosecutor's case.
If you are being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony you are entitled to a jury trial as California law requires. The criminal lawyers at the Hedding Law Firm have engaged in numerous jury trials and have seen great results.
We fight aggressively and when we engage in jury trials we act as if we were entering a battle field and our main goal is to win!
When you enter a “not guilty” plea, you will have to go through some pretrial proceedings to try and resolve the case, and if the case does not get resolved, then the case proceeds to trial.
The jury system consists of 12 members that represent a fair cross section of the community and all 12 must come to a unanimous decision in determining your guilt. As your lawyer, we step in and step up and fight for your freedom and for your legal rights. In rare cases, it might be in your best interest to waive your right to a jury trial in favor of a bench trail, where the judge alone decides the verdict.
Trial Process in California Criminal Cases
A jury trial consists of: jury selection; opening statements by the attorneys; evidence (direct and cross examination of witnesses for prosecution and for defense); closing arguments by the attorneys; jury deliberations; the verdict; and finally the sentencing.
Our top priority as your criminal defense lawyer is to make strong opening and closing statements and through the evidence we gather and witnesses we question, build a strong case on your behalf that when the time for jury deliberations comes, there will be doubt as to your guilt.
We do everything we can to prove and to show that the prosecution has not proved its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Our attorneys have successfully defended clients in front of juries for crimes such as DUI, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, sex crimes, and a lot more.
If you are facing a pending criminal charge, contact our law firm immediately and set up a free face to face consultation. Whether your case goes to trial or not, we will put in the same amount of effort – that being all our effort to get you the best possible results.