The District Attorney's office in Los Angeles has over a thousand prosecutors and it's really run like a big corporation. Just like any corporation, there's rules. There's a structure or hierarchy. So, when I have criminal cases – and I've been doing this for twenty-five years in LA county – and I have an offer that I don't think is fair related to one of my criminal defendants, I'm going to use the District Attorney's office chain of command to try to get the best possible resolution for my client.
Chain of Command in Los Angeles District Attorney's Office
A lot of times, the deputies that sit in the courtrooms really don't have authority to make offers. So, if you're dealing with a deputy who has made an offer that you don't think is fair, the next move would be to go to that person's boss.
Obviously, because there's a chain of command, there's a number of different angles that can be used. For example, in a felony, there's always a supervising deputy district attorney who is in charge of all of the preliminary hearing courts and cases.
That supervising prosecutor would be the one to go to if you want to get a better offer on a case that has not done the preliminary hearing yet.
Also, most cases are matrix or feed-into a trial court. That trial prosecutor is usually the one who can make offers as well. And then every single courthouse in Los Angeles County has a number two prosecutor and has a number one prosecutor.
So, those are also options to go to. The key is knowing the local courthouse, knowing which one of those prosecutors that I mentioned is going to be most reasonable related to your particular case – your client's particular scenario.
Judge Controls Sentencing in Los Angeles Criminal Cases
Another option is to go to the judge in that criminal court. The judge also has the power to give a better sentence or a better offer in a criminal case. But the judge usually can't change the charges. The DA's office controls the charges; whereas the judge in a criminal case in Los Angeles, is going to control the sentence.
So, you have to bare that in mind when you're trying to resolve one of these cases. Believe it or not, I've had cases where I've worked out a deal with the prosecutor as to what my client is going to plead to and what the sentence is going to be.
The judge looks at the facts of the case and says, you know what, I'm not going along with this deal. I don't think this criminal defendant deserves such a good deal. So, you're either going to have to take it to another judge or change the deal.
Let me tell you something interesting and somewhat humorous. I've never seen a judge get a plea in a case and say, you know what, this is too harsh on the criminal defendant. I'm not going to go on with this deal. So, you have to bare this in mind.
You have to know how these court systems work. You have to understand the chain of power when it comes to the District Attorney's office in Los Angeles, and then you're in the position to answer the question of what can I do when the prosecutors will not change the offer in my case? You have to use strategy. You have to have an attorney who knows how to deal with your case. You have to be able to show mitigating factors.
Preparing Mitigation Package in Los Angeles Criminal Cases
A lot of times what I'm doing is getting together what's called a “mitigation package” where I'm showing the prosecutor all the mitigating things about my client, their situation, their circumstances, and then I'm in a position to really help my client and put them in the best possible position.
Sometimes I'm also going to investigate a case and I'm going to get more information about the case so that I can show the prosecutor, this case is not all that you think it is.
There's a lot more going on here, and I'm getting my client's version of events across, because the police will typically do a one-sided investigation where they're not given all the information related to mitigating circumstances related to a criminal defendant, and that's when I have to come in, show the other side and get the result that is necessary for the client.
So, if you have a criminal case where the prosecutor is not being fair, not giving you the right offer, you're going to need to get somebody like me in there who is going to fight for you and knows how to work the system to get you the result you must have.
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