Why Are Criminal Cases Not Being Filed Right Away In LA County?
One thing people can’t understand and I have to explain it to them all the time is, they’ll get arrested for a crime, they’ll post bail on the case and then the case will be set for them to appear approximately thirty days away in one of the Los Angeles courthouses, depending on which court has jurisdiction on it. Then the case will be sent by the police to the prosecutors and they’re going to be the ones deciding what’s filed and when it’s filed as far as a criminal case goes, but a lot of times we’ll call and let the prosecutors know that we represent you in a case and the prosecutors won’t have a record of the case, so we won’t be able to talk to them about it, because until the police give it to them and they input into their computer so they can see it when someone looks for it, they don’t’ know anything about it. It doesn’t exist for them.
That’s why people get a little upset and don’t get it. The bottom line is, the police are busy. Depending on what type of a case it is, sometimes it takes them some time to get to it. For example, if they know the person bailed out it’s going to take thirty days for the person to appear in court, they know they’ve got thirty days to get that case to the prosecutors. So, we can call a week before the court and it cannot be found, and again, clients get mad, they can’t figure it, what’s going on, and that’s just the police not getting the paperwork in time.
Another thing if you really want to get upset is, we go to court all the time, we wait for hours sometimes and they don’t file anything, and then the clients are frustrated. Why didn’t they file it? What’s going on? And again, it’s the police not getting it to the prosecutors. Sometimes the police bring it into the prosecutors the day of the court which causes a big problem because now the prosecutor has a stack of cases coming in on that day. So, they have to go through it and sometimes they look at it and say to the police, you didn’t do the right investigation here. You didn’t do what you were supposed to. I’m not filing this case, so then the case gets continued. There’s further investigation to be done. Sometimes a case will just get outright rejected. Then it will be up to the police whether or not they’re going to do the extra investigation necessary to have that case filed.
But, in the meantime, someone has posted a bail. I see it happen all the time and I don’t think it’s fair. Let’s say you post a $50,000.00 bail. You go to court with your attorney. They file nothing. They’re all secretive about it. They’re not telling you why they’re not filing anything. Sometimes it is for further investigation. Sometimes there are various reasons why they don’t file it right away. Then, you get a proof of appearance that you showed up – that’s what we get for the client – and we leave. Then, three months later they file it, come and arrest you and now you have to post another bail. That’s ridiculous, but that happens all the time in Los Angeles County. It’s not fair. It’s not justice. The best you can do in that scenario is to just have an attorney because then your attorney is available for you. The attorney can call and check to see if the case has been filed. A lot of times they’ll send you a letter in the mail so you have to be on the alert for that, letting you know the case has been filed and when to appear in court. Like I said, sometimes they just continue the case for a couple of weeks to give themselves more time. Then you come in those two weeks and they file the case.
So, when it comes to these scenarios as to when the prosecutors are going to file the case, how long it’s going to take, you really have to coordinate things through your criminal defense attorney. We call all the time on the cases. We keep track with notes that we’ve called and when we called and who we talked to. If they file it and don’t tell anybody about it and they come and arrest you, obviously the family calls or you call and let us know that the case has been filed and we get into court and deal with the case.
It shouldn’t be that way, but it’s that way because when it comes to criminal offenses, Los Angeles is a huge city – a huge metropolis, a giant DA’s office – it’s a big bureaucratic machine moving cases in and out of it and sometimes they make mistakes. But as a defense attorney, I have to figure out that they’re going to make the mistake and be ready to counter the mistake to be able to protect my client’s rights, freedom, reputation and criminal record.