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Jury Trials in Los Angeles as of the End of 2021

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Nov 10, 2021

Jury trials have started to resume all over Los Angeles County and it looks like there will be a full green light coming up within the next month or two.

It is still unclear how the winter months will be dealt with as far as the Coronavirus goes.  If there is no spike in cases, I guarantee you that jury trials will go back into full swing in Los Angeles County.

There's hundreds of people waiting to have their jury trial and the prosecutors, in my opinion, are about to be inundated with jury trials across county.

Status of Jury Trials in Los Angeles County

I think this will be to the benefit of many people who have criminal cases pending in LA because the prosecutors simply don't have the staff to be able to try every single jury trial that is coming down the pike.

I think the way they're going to look at it is, they're going to deal with the more serious cases and put those as high priority cases. The ones where there are no victims, for example, will probably take a back seat and a lot of those will probably end up getting resolved.

The big major drug cases, for example, there's no longer a major narcotics unit, so a lot of those I think are going to going to get resolved.

It's the cases where there's a victim, where somebody has been hurt or killed that will take priority for the prosecutors.  I don't think they'll move on those cases.

I think they'll try those cases.  The most dangerous defendants from their perspective who have impacted the lives of people are going to be the cases they are going to try.  They're not going to move on their offers.

Whereas, the cases that do not have a victim or the victim does not have a problem with them getting a fair resolution, those cases are probably ripe to be resolved. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review below.

What is a Jury Trial in California?

The California constitution gives a defendant in a criminal case the legal right to a jury trial, which is a group of twelve members of the public.

They are responsible to be the fact finders in a criminal case and determine if a defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crimes they were charged with.

Put simply, if you were charged with a California misdemeanor or felony crime, then you are entitled to have a jury trial, which could be waived for a bench trial where the judge is the sole party to determine guilt or innocence.

In order to protect the legal rights of the defendant, there are many important safeguards built into the jury trial process. For example, the members of the just have to represent the local community.

While the jury members won't ever precisely represent the demographics of the community regarding race, ethnicity, gender, etc., there can't be any deliberate attempts to make the jury not representative.

All Defendants Have the Legal Right to a Lawyer

At the arraignment, if a defendant enters a “not guilty” plea, then there are many pretrial trial proceedings that are primarily designed to resolve the case in order to avoid a trial.

If the case can't be resolved, then it will proceed to a jury trial, where all defendants have the legal right to a lawyer, but also have the right to represent themselves, which is highly discouraged.

Due to the fact the right to an attorney is guaranteed by the constitution, the court is required to appoint an attorney (public defender) to represent a criminal defendant at a jury trial if they unable to afford one.

The assigned public defender is required to provide competent legal representation.

Steps in a Criminal Jury Trial in California

A traditional jury trial starts the selection of jurors by the prosecution and defense lawyer. At the actual trial, it's starts with opening statements by both sides where is an overview of what the jurors will hear in order their side of the case.

At this point, evidence is not submitted, rather it's a verbal preview of what they should expect to come later.

In most trials, the opening statements are brief, but are allowed to be more detailed. The prosecutor goes first, followed by the criminal defense lawyer.

Next, the basic steps in a California criminal jury trial include the following:

Steps in a Criminal Jury Trial
  • Introduction of evidence,
  • Cross examination of witnesses,
  • Testimony of experts,
  • Closing arguments by both sides,
  • Deliberations by the jury,
  • Verdict from the jury,
  • Sentencing hearing.

If a defendant is ultimately convicted of the charges at the jury trial, then they are legally entitled to have a sentencing hearing.

At this hearing, both the prosecutor and defense lawyer are given an opportunity to present arguments to the judge of what they believe would be a fair sentence for the charges they were just convicted of.

The criminal defense lawyer will present mitigating factors to the judge on behalf of their client for a light sentence, while on the flip side, the prosecutor will present aggravating factors for a harsher sentence.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge is responsible for deciding specific sentence for the defendant.

Contact Hedding Law Firm for Help

So, the bottom line is, if you or a loved one has a jury trial in LA County, you've got to get a great criminal defense attorney, even if your case doesn't end up going to trial.

Just having an attorney who knows how to try a case, who knows the political landscape, is going to put you in a huge advantage over having an attorney who does not have the wherewithal to win a trial, who does not know how to deal with a criminal case in Los Angeles County or who simply is just too busy and overwhelmed.

Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I've been doing this almost 30 years.  I've worked for the District Attorney's office.

I've worked for a Superior Court Judge and I've been the guiding force or the Hedding Law Firm now since 1994.

We are located in Los Angeles County and offer a free case evaluation.

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.