If You're Charged with a Criminal Case in Los Angeles, Should You Hire a Large Law Firm or a Solo Lawyer?
Many people who get arrested and charged with crimes in LA county set out to find a criminal defense attorney, but they don't know how to look, where to start, who to hire, and what makes sense because they've never been charged with it a crime before.
I've been practicing criminal law for 30 years in all aspects of the criminal field. I've worked for the District Attorney's office, the prosecuting agency for felonies in LA county. In 1994, I opened my criminal defense firm, solely representing people like you.
When you talk about a big firm versus a solo practitioner in criminal defense, you have to look at it from a smart, strategic position. First off, most of the best criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles county are solo practitioners. There are not many law firms that practice criminal defense.
There are undoubtedly big law firms in the civil arena, but in the criminal arena, it's usually one man or one woman who will be running a particular operation. Where you need to be careful is where it comes to hiring an entity that claims it's a law firm.
I've seen recently that lawyers are hiring other lawyers to make criminal appearances and try to deal with criminal cases, so they'll put one lawyer's credentials on the site, or they'll put a bunch of information and claim they're a law firm. Still, there's nobody at the head of the firm.
Unfortunately, people who aren't even lawyers — case managers — are running these law firms. They didn't get their law degree.
They don't know how to practice criminal defense. All they're doing is handing out cases through advertising to lawyers who are usually not very seasoned, not very sophisticated and don't have any stake in the game.
In other words, they're just getting paid some small flat fee to handle the case, where the lion's share of the money is going to people who have nothing to do with making sure that your case is dealt with the right way. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review the most common strategies below.
Common Defenses in California Criminal Cases
To convict somebody charged with a crime in California, the prosecution has to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. All defendants have the legal right to present a defense, usually through their criminal defense attorney.
Experienced lawyers will generally seek to find weaknesses in the prosecutor's case to determine a strategy for best possible outcome.
There are usually several available strategies, but choosing the best one will always depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. Every criminal case is unique and will first require a thorough examination of all the details. Some of the most common defenses are listed below.
Any criminal accusation in a California court has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecutor, which is the highest standard of proof in the law.
In other words, the presented evidence must exclude all reasonable alternative theories of liability and give the jury an abiding conviction of the truth of the charges.
The common defense of reasonable doubt is usually argued by a lawyer, even when there are more specific defenses they could also use.
Even when a jury believes there is some evidence of guilt, a skilled defense lawyer could effectively articulate why the jury is legally bound to acquit the defendant if the prosecutor's high burden of proof has not been satisfied.
Evidence in criminal cases is frequently seized under a search warrant. Many searches occur without warrants based on the many exceptions to the warrant requirement within Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
When the justification for the search can be reasonably argued, a criminal defense lawyer can file a motion to suppress. Any evidence seized in violation of someone's constitutional rights can't be used against them.
If the suppressed evidence is crucial to the prosecutor's case, they may be forced to dismiss the charges if the judge excludes it.
Using reasonable and proportionate force to protect yourself or someone else is typically a complete defense to an assault-related criminal charge. The primary question is whether the force used was reasonable under the specific circumstances.
For example, if somebody pushes you, a simple misdemeanor battery, it's not reasonable to pull out a gun and shoot them in the head.
A self-defense claim is necessarily fact-specific and listed under California Criminal Jury Instructions 3470.
Experienced Defense Law Firm
So, I would say, stay away from anybody that's calling themselves a true law firm. Here, at the Hedding Law Firm, I am the principal attorney. My father works with me. I have another associate that works with me as well.
That would be considered a pretty big firm in a field where only a single lawyer is defending clients. So, it would help if you had somebody who has experience.
It would help if you had somebody that you have looked over their credentials, and you know that they're the ones in charge of your case. If you hire a firm, they assign some attorney who doesn't know what they're doing to your case, and I don't see how you're doing yourself a service there.
Someone's advertising on the internet. You want to talk to that person. You want to hire that person and make sure that person has responsibility for your case.
So, the bottom line is to hire a solo practitioner. They can call themselves a law firm. That's fine, but make sure that that solo practitioner with those credentials is the one who is ultimately responsible for your case.
If you're looking for the best, you've come to the right place. Pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I've been doing this for 30 years. I stand at the ready to help you.
We are located in Los Angeles County and serve people throughout Southern California. Contact our office for a free case evaluation.